Couple of quick notes before we dive into this week's Raider diatribe:
- Don't know if I'll get a chance to post 1 game to watch this week, or anything else for that matter, As Family is coming into town for Thanksgiving Wednesday and I head to WV to hunt Friday. So both of you are on your own, unless I get motivated.
- It looks like the Merriman photo is actually a Photoshop job by the Chargers. But that shouldn't take away any of the delight we all share in laughing at the way MJD knocked Merriman's lights out. (I also know I spelled Shawne's 1st name wrong, I just thought he dropped the "e" when he got off the juice).
I've documented what I feel is the Major shortcoming with the Raiders at this point, the lack of a dominant defense and/or play makers on the offensive side of the ball. This by no means is ground breaking information that I'm putting out there. Anyone who has watched the craptackular display put on by the Raiders the last two seasons is well aware that the Raiders opponent has little to fear when game planning.
It is my opinion that the problem as it stands is the result of years of neglect by the Raiders in finding and obtaining playmakers through the draft. During the Gruden/Allen years the Raiders obtained talent through free agency and supplemented that talent with warm bodies in the draft. Unfortunately those Raiders got old and or moved on to greener pastures. The free agency landscape changed as teams got better at managing their cap situations and the Raiders failed to adapt and get their playmakers through the draft and supplement those players through free agency.
Looking back at the past 10 years of the Raiders draft, you have to go to 1998 and the selection of Charles Woodson to find a player that opposing coordinators had to game plan for. From that point on the Raiders drafted for need rather than best player available.
Need an upgrade at kicker - Jano 1st round '00
Need an upgrade at CB2 - PBuch 1st round '02
Need a CB due to Woodson contract - Namdi 1st round '03
Furthering the offense's downfall has been the Raiders reluctance to select offensive players at skill positions on the 1st day. Not counting the last draft the Raiders selected only 6 players(Porter, Tuiasosopo, Jolley, Johnson, Fargas, and Walter) who touch the ball on a regular basis in 30 picks.
Adding insult to injury has been the failure of highly regarded/drafted offensive lineman to step up into the voids left by the aging vets of the Gruden regime. Galler, Grove, Walker, not one has fully delivered on their promise. Some of this has to do with constant changing of schemes, and some to do with just not having "it".
As for the defense, a whopping 8 of those 30 picks were spent on the defensive backfields, while only 2 1/2 were spent on pass rushers (I give Williams a 1/2 since he was brought in as a pass rushing LB project). Dominant Defenses have dominant pass rushers.
Now, we shouldn't confuse this with a total dismissal of the Raiders draft ability. The Raiders have found quite a few gems in the late rounds over the last 10 years. Including:
These guys have all outplayed their draft status, however they are not playmakers and/or the Raiders have failed to retain them. (Lechler is a close to a playmaker as a kicker gets and Curry looked like 1 until injuries limited his speed.)
So where do the Raiders go to address this issue. Fingers have been pointed at Al for years for his love of speed and size over talent and football IQ. While this is a valid point, I look at the Raider's (I.E. Al's) philosophy that the Raiders don't rebuild, they reload. It is this lack of admission that the old ways aren't working anymore that has contributed more to the Raiders recent malaise than actual poor drafting. The Raiders have to admit that they can no longer look to FA to find their playmakers; they have to look to the draft for those players and to FA to fill out the roster.
It is time for Al to make a drastic change. I'm not calling for Al to step down, the man is the Raiders, but I think the man needs to admit that he can no longer have the final word on draft picks and free agents. He needs to bring in a true GM to perform the day to day football operations. Giving up this kind of control will be a hard pill for Al to swallow. But there is one man who I can think of that has the kind of relationship with Al and the football IQ that Al can trust to do the job right for him.
That man is the Big Tuna
Parcells and Davis have a long-standing relationship and enjoy mutual admiration. For years they were seen sitting together and comparing notes at the combine. Both have similar philosophies of terrorizing the QB, a strong run game and an opportunistic passing attack.
The rumor mills are rampant with speculation that Parcells is looking to get away from ESPN and get back into the NFL as a GM. The usual suspects of east coast teams are trotted out as potential landing places for the Jersey boy. But in today's world, why limit yourself to the east coast.
The traditional GM lives in the team’s facilities, working the phones and watching tape. However, thanks to the Internet, email and data sharing, who is to say that Parcells couldn't stay on his beloved east coast and handle things from a home office. Sure he would have to travel to Oakland for business at key times of the year (Camps, draft, meet with FA's), but his current job requires him to travel to Bristol on a regular basis, and any GM has to travel the country for certain events. There is no reason that geography should limit a GM's options anymore.
Do you think that Parcells can’t evaluate talent? He lead the morbid Pats back from the abyss to a Super Bowl run that ended at the hands of Brett Favre and the Packers, and left the foundation for the subsequent run by Bellichick. He turned a downtrodden Jets team into a division contender. His groundwork currently has the Cowboys as one of the top 2 teams in the NFC. Parcells has the eye for talent. The majority of which he acquires through the draft, exactly where the Raiders are weakest.
Parcells can also avoid one of his biggest annoyances by coming aboard with the Raiders, The media. Anyone who has ever watched a Parcells' press conference knows that his has little tolerance for the media. As a Raider Parcells could avoid the media like the plague that it is. The Raiders rarely, if ever make members of their front office available to the media. Parcells would no longer be forced to subject himself to the media’s constant badgering at press conferences. Shop for the groceries Bill, Al or Lane can deal with the media.
The biggest obstacle as I see it is the all mighty dollar. Bill is going to command one of the top GM salaries in the league should he decide to come back to a front office position. Here is where Al has to swallow his pride a bit and pay out. However, Al has one thing working in his favor. He rarely issues contract to front office personnel. Allen & Lombardi worked for Al without a contract. He paid them as consultants on a year-to-year basis, and they were free to go at the end of the year should the relationship not work. Parcells has had a wandering eye since his days in NE. This kind of relationship would allow Parcells the leeway to leave at his discretion. If he and Al can't work together, than leave, no buyout, no no-compete clause, just shake hands and move on. Win Win.
Can it work? I believe it can. Will it work? Its up to Al to make the 1st move, you know that the suitors are going to be lining up for Parcells' services, and most likely have already started working the phones. Al needs to move now to make this work.
Then we can all be treated to a Great Jim Ross moment, as at the Super bowl pre-game show, Bill stands up, gives TJ, Emmitt and Keyshawn consecutive chair shots and removes his shirt and tie revealing a Oakland Raiders T-shirt as the camera fades to black as Berman screams "BY GOD PARCELLS IS A RAIDER, PARCELLS IS A RAIDER THE NFL WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN"
I just got chills, but it could be this damn fever, I hate colds.