Rebuild? No, and I'll Tell You Why

Film review: Raiders QB Derek Carr's disastrous second half - Turf Show  Times

So I asked a question at the beginning of last week's piece....something along the lines of - " will we ever win again without Ruggs? " Well, we're now 0-6 when MVP Henry Ruggs III doesn't play, so it's looking like a strong - no - at this point.

But not the last, " strong no " because I know that some of you were waiting for my response to this game VS the Bungles, and here it is....

Shut up about rebuilding.

No, it's - not - time to rebuild....

Not when we've literally had four hall of fame caliber quarterbacks show interest in leading this group of players over the past year and a half. Four. Count'em. Brady, Rodgers, Wilson and Watson. They've all had varying levels of interest in being the guy in Las Vegas, and still may have interest in the job that Derek Carr can't handle. You don't have these types of quarterbacks looking your way if you're a team that's months away from needing " a rebuild ". And these guys looked our way before we even had enough noteworthy pieces on defense for them to feel good about.

No, what this team needs most is what I've been saying they need for nearly a full calendar year now - new leadership at QB.

See....this game is - first and foremost - about belief. And it's the Jimmys and Joes that breed belief. Not the x's and o's. That's one of the first things you learn being around the game. Players lead the way and nothing in this game is stronger than belief. So why would this team believe in Derek Carr after all of his years of fading in November and December? Are players blind? Another resounding - no. Our players aren't blind, and neither are opposing players. Joey Bosa's not blind. Tom Brady's not blind. Both guys warned fans about Derek Carr. Many were just too busy being fans to accept the accept what I've been saying was going to happen.

Someone recently noted that Derek just notched his 70th career fumble ( which leads the NFL since 2014, BTW), and I appreciate that because so many other issues have popped up, that I'd sort of grown numb to Derek and his little hands fumbling the football. The point of bringing this up is - why should any coach feel good about Derek trying to extend plays? Why would any coach want to put him in a position where a whisper from a defender can cause his little hands to lose the football? Translation: why would a coach - believe - Derek can handle that sort of thing? That's the first problem when looking to create a winning philosophy with Derek as the leader. And it's a problem that's always going to be lurking with Derek at QB. We know it and his teammates know it.

This man has not only had butt fumbles, but has also fumbled the ball forward for interceptions. That's right. And I don't even know how to chart that. Half fumble, half interception?

And if you thought Derek's first punt was the play in which Daniel Sorensen picked him off - think again. Take another gander at the gif at the beginning of this piece, where a gust of wind makes Derek panic and toss up a punt/INT to Cory Littleton....that was 2018.


These plays kill morale. They kill credibility. And players forgive....but they do not forget. And the fact that this organization continues to roll Derek out there as the starter and leader - it kills their credibility, too. It's time to regain credibility.

So what to do? The answer is simple - cut out the cancer.

Now, is Derek the sole problem with this team? Of course not. But that's not saying much because no team in the NFL has - one problem. Everyone's dealing with multiple issues and problems that a NFL season brings about. But it seems as though many of you have finally come to understand that the #1 issue is Derek ( the #1 priority) because of his position's value and the negative impact that a middling quarterback can have on a football team. Derek is the constant here. Things change year to year....but Derek remains, and so does his lackluster play in the 2nd half of seasons. Derek was fading in the 2nd half of the season when Henry Ruggs III was a freshman at Bama, so nobody wants to hear anything about Ruggs and his absence. This isn't about him....Ruggs wasn't a big piece of our red zone offense, anyway, and that's where the game becomes too fast for Derek and where he panics most.

But aside from cutting out the Derek Carr cancer - who else needs to go?

Well, the first thing you must understand is this - Mark is running a business and he's under pressure to be relevant because the NFL moving to Las Vegas is supposed to be a resounding win....not just a win. The NFL wins everywhere. It's not enough to just win. This is supposed to be a hell of a show in new NFL territory - the entertainment capital of the world - and it's supposed to lead the league to new heights. And if Mark can't make this happen, his partners will eventually pressure him to sell and move on. And maybe that would be best for us, but that's not going to happen for a while. Not before Mark takes his swing for the fences.

The point is this - have we forgotten what a rebuild looks like? It's ugly. Too ugly for a move to Las Vegas and what the league expects in that city. And do we actually think they're going to be able to make an impactful hire at head coach if they start rebuilding and tearing it all down? What good coach is going to want to run this offense if Darren Waller is traded? Think about these things.

No, we need to keep enough talent around, so to entice a credible head coaching option to come and take this thing over. And the same goes for the QB position. One of the reasons we've had four different hall of fame caliber quarterbacks show interest in leading this team - is Darren Waller. Multiple head coaches have said that Waller is one of the 10 best players in the NFL, and that weighs a ton. That he'll be 30 years old next season means less than when others reach that 30 year old mark because Waller doesn't have a ton of mileage. He doesn't have a ton of games under his belt....he hasn't had 6 or 7 years of wild production and hard hits. He's just getting started and he's a freak athlete. He should be elite for a few more years.

All to say - Darren Waller stays. Fans in Las Vegas are already wild about Waller and he's the best thing we have going outside of Maxx. He's a perfect guy to have around and he's just beginning to become a leader. Instead of looking to trade Waller, what I expect to happen is - Waller will get a new contract that suits his talent, so that the new head coach doesn't have to worry about losing a guy that's considered to be a unicorn in this new era of football. Mark has to stop trading his very best players....that, too, is not good for business. Nor does it create trust with his players and fans.

Also, shouldn't see anyone naming Foster Moreau as a reason that we should trade Darren Waller. Why? You know what's better than having one really good tight end? Having two. It just presents a hell of a problem for defensive coordinators....actually, the biggest problem because it makes defensive coordinators highly predictable. They have to put heavy personnel on the field to combat 2 TE sets, which obviously leaves the defense vulnerable downfield. It's a puzzle that still hasn't been solved when presented correctly - and the right trigger man is under center.

On to Josh Jacobs - does he stay? This one is hard. Because of what's happened with Ruggs, we've pretty much forgotten that Jacobs has had his own car crash and suspected DUI in Las Vegas. His production has obviously dropped off, but I feel an upgrade at QB and an addition or two to the O-line would help Jacobs out. Also, I don't know that head coaching candidates would look at Jacobs and say - " get rid of that guy! " Running backs aren't typically the reason you lose - or win. I feel like his availability will be the biggest hurdle....head coaching candidates will certainly have questions about Jacobs' durability. Many fans want him gone. I say we have bigger problems to worry about, so I'm indifferent here.

Incognito - should just retire.

Kolton Miller - stays. Fairly obvious. Similar to Waller, not in quality, but in necessity. Every head coaching candidate and potential upgrade at QB is going to want Miller around.

Cle Ferrell - should go. And they've tried to deal him. However, his dead cap hit is too expensive. We're likely stuck here and it's fine. Ferrell didn't stop them from improving the defense this year and likely won't next year either. If anything, there's a better chance that he'd figure out how to be productive and carve out a role. Not saying he's going to turn into this guy, but I always think back to Michael Strahan and how he was in the league a full 4 years before he became one of the better D-lineman. Some guys figure it out later.

Johnathan Abram - you know what I think about him. Or you should. He's a linebacker. I told you that in 3 or 4 separate pieces all titled - " Johnathan Abram is a linebacker ". And he's not a new school linebacker either. He just looks like one because he's undersized. Abram is an undersized, old school linebacker. You put him back deep in coverage or give him any mid-deep responsibility and you're asking for trouble....just like we saw when Bradley put Abram back deep against KC a couple weeks ago. He's not the answer at safety. He's not the answer at linebacker. And his dead money cap hit is miniscule because he was taken in the back of the 1st round. Johnathan Abram - cannot - return to this team. Trade or cut. Period. What we need is another actual safety that can play deep and help us out there when we need to play 2 man or cover 2, or even when we want the freedom to move Moehrig down to cover tight ends or slot WRs. Should've just drafted Winfield Jr. over Arnette, but I digress.

Gus Bradley - now, here's a tricky one. Because if and when we hire a new head coach, that guy could want his own guy in at DC. Or maybe not? Maybe that head coach would be willing to give Gus a year because of what he's accomplished this season? Gus has done a hell of a job, is proven around league circles, and is respected. One thing that doesn't really change - with or without Gus is this - we now have a pass rush. But he also brought in a respected staff to handle the secondary, and it looks as if Casey Hayward may have another year or two in him. I don't know that any head coaching candidate would want to just disrupt what Hayward was able to do this season, especially with the growth that Mullen showed before his injury....cornerbacks that excel like Hayward has aren't just a dime a dozen and it sounds like he's been a solid leader. You get rid of Gus Bradley and you may as well let Hayward leave in free agency, too.

Yannick - stays. He's probably tradable, even with his contract, but we've spent far too long trying to fix the pass rush to let him go and start over. He helped captain an improved unit and has earned the right to stick with Maxx. Because this league is all about sub-packages and speed rush ends these days, Yannick is a fit no matter who gets brought in at DC. Everyone has a nickel/speed rush package.

Kwiatkoski - another tricky one. I feel he has enough value - at next year's price - to get a trade done. A 4th or 5th round pick will suit us fine. But if they decide to move on from Gus Bradley, the next DC may have an affinity for what Kwik brings to the table....either way, it's not a make or break deal here.

Littleton - is going nowhere. Would leave too much dead money on the books. He would have to restructure - again - to be a viable trade candidate. And even that's not all that likely.

I'll leave some of the other names to you guys. The point is - for reasons stated above - it's not time to rebuild. And you shouldn't expect one. It's simply time for impactful change here, an impactful change there. You don't go 7-9 and 8-8 in successive seasons, build playoff urgency, then have another 2nd half of the season collapse behind your QB who fades annually - just to then tear it all down because he faded again. Our current personnel has shown enough promise - with a successful draft in 2022, a successful bid in free agency, and an upgrade at QB - we're right back in the playoff picture next season, but with a real chance at sustaining the preferred level of performance into November and December.

And we do this - without Derek Carr and Johnathan Abram - and their silly debates about salmon.