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ESPN admits misjudgment, re-grades Raiders 2017 offseason as worst in NFL

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Every offseason hope springs eternal for every fan base. It seems more and more that ESPN has been careful not to burst that bubble when they go about doing their grades for each team’s offseason and draft. They gave the Raiders offseason a B- grade.

I gave the Raiders a B- for their free agency and a B for their draft. That too may have been a bit generous. Mainly because I let them off too easily for not signing anyone on the defensive side of the ball in free agency. My grades, being that they focused specifically on free agency and the draft, didn’t factor in coaching. More on that in a minute.

I don’t do re-grades myself, but ESPN loves them. And, so, Mike Sando hopped in the hindsight machine to re-grade the Raiders offseason. His new grade for the Raiders is a sharp downturn from the B- he gave them last year.

This time he gave the Raiders a D, which was the lowest grade he gave any team, tied with the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns.

The Raiders’ offseason included firing offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and using a first-round pick on cornerback Gareon Conley, who was facing a rape allegation (a grand jury declined to bring charges just as training camps were opening). Shin troubles limited Conley to two games, making his rookie season a wash. Second-round safety Obi Melifonwu also had trouble staying on the field, and by Thanksgiving, the Raiders had a new defensive coordinator. They finished last in Total QBR allowed.

Sando led out with talk of Bill Musgrave being fired. The funny thing is when he did his original grade, he spoke almost exclusively about the risky move of letting Musgrave go in favor of Todd Downing and yet still gave them a high grade.

That coaching change, along with the lack of a coaching change on the defensive side of the ball, turned out to be the biggest missteps this team made in the offseason.

Even mentioning the rape allegations that brought no charges on Conley along with the injury issues he and Melifonwu suffered seems completely out of place and irrelevant here considering they had no injury history and therefore the Raiders can’t be faulted for their sudden injuries now.

He should have focused on the coaching moves and added that the team got essentially nothing from the rest of their draft class even outside of the top two picks.

I guess when a team goes from 12-4 to 6-10 it opens everything up for criticism.

Speaking of hindsight, a quote they got for their original grades piece from an unnamed NFL coordinator seems pretty comical now. He said of Downing getting the promotion “He was the one doing a lot of the work and he had the relationship with the quarterback.”

He and Carr may have been buddies, but doing most of the work? Yeah, no.