Monthly Archives: December 2013

It is time for a New Direction

After  a 23-13 loss at the hands of the divisional rival Chargers, Dennis Allen’s time in Oakland might be up. Him losing the job is not necessarily a reflection of Allen, but a relection of the orginazation.

When Dennis Allen took the job as head coach, he understood what he signed up for. It was going to be a complete overhaul. This was a team who lost its direction, and lost its legendary leader. The franchise needed to create a new culture of winning. No one said it would be easy, and it hasn’t been. The team faced a horrible salary cap situation, work ethic concerns, and more athletecism than football ability.

Dennis Allen is 8-23 as the leader of this team. The team still lacks a franchise quarterback. There  is no consistent #1 reciever or lockdown corner. The defense and offense are both variables week to week. The Raiders still have problems with penalties as they committed 13 against the Chargers. What has really changed?

Well anyone who has watched this Raider team has seen a difference in how they compete. The Raiders play hard, they have bought into Allen’s regime and vision. Unfortunately, that has not lead towins.

Charles Woodson put it into perspective when he said coach Allen just doesn’t have the things he needs. Even another Raider said Allen puts them into a position to win, but it is up to them to do something with it. Therefore, in Allen’s defense maybe he just hasn’t had the talent to compete at this level. The Raiders were predicted to be a bottom feeder team, as they had a record high dead money salary. Allen was forced to weather that storm, along with other pieces of adversity. Fortunately for the Raiders, that dead salary comes off the books this season, and will give the Raiders $70 million in cap space. Does Allen Deserve another shot to lead the Raiders once they have more talent?

Many reporters and people close to the Raiders have defended Allen and have said he deserves to stay. Even owner Marc Davis has preached patience. However, The Raiders do not owe Allen anything other than the money he is due. 

I understand Dennis Allen has done much of the dirty work by leading a talent defecient team. Maybe it would be fair to see what he can do with a better squad, but no one said the NFL was fair. Hue Jackson got fired after one 8-8 season. The two are different circumstances, but that is an indication of how cut throat this league is.

I understand there are people in the Raiders organization craving stability. Some will say an Allen firing will signal the same old Raiders, and compare Marc Davis to Al Davis. My question is, What stability is there in the organization right now? Every starters job is in question. Even the teams most consistent players could benefit from more competition for their jobs.

The fact is, the Raiders still don’t have an identity after 2 seasons. Sure there seems to be a sense that the Raiders are moving in the right direction, and Allen seems to have a better vision of building a team than previous coaches. However, if Davis really bought into Allen’s vision he would have indicated that by renewing all of the  assistants contracts. If the Raiders do decide to replace  their assistant coaches then Allen shouldn’t be saved either. They either buy into Allen completely, or sell him completely.  If they wait another season then the backlash will be worse. The Raiders will have committed to Allen’s draft picks, Allen’s free agents, and Allen’s assistances, which will lead them to rebuilding again.

Hence, I don’t think the Raiders can move forward with Allen at head coach. Having an 8-23 coach doesn’t exactly attract the big name free agents the Raiders need.Neither do you want the Raiders new draft class having to deal with a coaching overhaul next season. Keeping Allen signifies stability, which is great. But The Raiders need tangible results, which are wins, and they might have took look else where to find that. The Raiders are better off starting the process now, while the slate is blank, rather than waiting for next season.

If the team struggles out of the gate then fans and media will call for Allen’s job. A midseason fire/interim coach situation is not something the Raiders can afford to deal with. Firing Allen and going back to the drawing board will not be that bad because the Raiders still haven’t built anything. Maybe committing to Allen is the start to building something and stability, however, the Raiders should build something with a new leader.

Dennis Allen seems to be widely respected around the league, and I am sure he will find a coordinator position. He should eventually  land another head gig, because his struggles were not all his fault. I do not think his firing is an indication of his ability to lead or coach, as Allen did the best with what he had.  It is an indication of the direction the Raiders are going. Regardless of what he has dealt with, Allen simply hasn’t had the results he wants or deserves. Firing Dennis Allen will be the example of accountability that Reggie Mckenzie has preached since he became GM of the Raiders. The Raiders want to win, and they need a coach who has done that. 

Now that Dennis Allen has moved the Raiders out of the bottom and into respectability, it is time for a new leader to move them into success. The new coach will have a clean slate to mold the team in their vision, as the team has a full slate of draft picks and tons of cap space. Better days are ahead of The Raiders, and Allen deserves a lot of credit for helping this team move out of obscurity.  It may not be fair to Allen, but The Organization needs a new face to lead to excellence.

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Dennis Allen hanging hat on undrafted rookie

A Few weeks ago, Dennis Allen’s job was pretty secure. He had this team winning and competing. Even after a few skids, Mark Davis admitted he was patient with the rebuild process, however, he also said he wanted progress. Dennis Allen himself has said that he is focused on wins and not the future. Unfortunately he hasn’t got many wins with an 8-22 record, and his future is indoubt. Fans have been asking for his job. SI’s Jim Trotter wrote that Dennis Allen getting fired is laughable. He cites all of the adversity he and McKenzie have dealt. He says that the team frankly doesn’t have the talent or the depth to compete over the long haul. Trotter said all of the bargain bin free agents signed last season are pushing their bodies farther than they ever have, as guys who were role players are now starters.

I’ll admit, Dennis Allen has done a lot with a little. He’s had veterans like Charles Woodson buy into his scheme and program. Hes made the best of all the injuries, lack of depth, and lack of talent. I think there are times where he should have made adjustments, such as the Washington, Dallas, and KC game, but you could say that with any coach. In Reality, I don’t think Dennis Allen, Reggie Mckenzie, or Mark Davis know whether Allen will be coaching this team another season.

Allen’s Future Comes Down To…

The Undrafted Rookie Quarterback Matt McGloin. Dennis Allen has hung his hat playing the undrafted QB. Even after a terrible game in Kansas City were McGloin showed he can turn the ball over just as well as Terrelle Pryor, Allen has kept McGloin the starter.

Terrelle Pryor put it into prospective last week, when he said he didn’t feel like he lost his job to McGloin. The truth is, it was never Pryor’s job to begin with. When Dennis Allen first came to Oakland, Pryor was the third string QB, but moved up the depth chart by the end of the season. This offseason, the Raiders brought in Matt Flynn, and said it was his job to lose. Pryor came in, played explosive, and took Flynn’s job. Flynn’s struggles, a bad offensiveline, and a lack of playmakers on offense made Allen play Pryor. Allen even named him the starter, and alluded to his possiblity as the future.

Pryor’s struggles, combined with injury, and a mishandling of them both, gave Allen a reason not to play Pryor. Since Pryor has said all the right things and helped Matt McGloin, but still isn’t playing. McGloin is 1-5 as a starter, and has thrown almost as many ints as TDS. He has more yards than Pryor, and the recievers play better with McGloin but thats largely due to some garbage time (IE KC Game). Offensive coordinator Greg Olsen has said the Raiders are trying to play Pryor to borrow some of his explosiveness. How is he suppossed to be explosive in 3 plays or one series? He isn’t michael Jordan. That seems to me like a play to appease ownership and fans.

But I get why Allen doesn’t want to go back to Pryor. If he plays well, then his judgement will be questioned going forward. If he plays bad then they will question why he made the shift and it will only hurt Pryor’s stock going forward. Hence, Dennis Allen has made his bed with Matt McGloin, and now its time for him to lye in it. Maybe not playing Pryor will increase the Raiders tanking in hopes of netting a new franchise quarterback. Maybe that was the plan all along, by playing McGloin the Raiders hoped to salvage another playoff-less season. Only problem with that is Allen may not be here next season to coach said rookie QB. 

The Raiders have 2 more games left. Those two games are against bitter rivals and potential playoff terams. These are Allen’s last two chances to prove he can coach at this level. I’m sure he does have the leadership qualities people talk about. I’m sure he is a bright defensive mind. However, those two things dont always equal success. Winning equals success and Allen hasn’t done enough of that. Everyone knows the circumstances he has faced, but he knew what he was signing up for. These last two games are his chance to show he can get this team playing inspired and competitve ball two more times. If he can do that, and get atleast one more win, well that will be some progress for the season. Either way, Allen’s success is gonna come down to how well Matt McGloin plays. Ifthe undrafted rookie is able to pull a win off, if the beat up defense can rally, and if the team can play inspired and disciplene ball; then Allen will retain his job. That is a lot of ifs, and allen only has two more opportunities guaranteed to answer those questions.

 

First Round: Qb isn’t the answer

I think Mock Drafts at this point are stupid. The Draft Order is not set, prospects haven’t declared, free agents haven’t been resigned, and players haven’t been cut. Additionally, a lot of things happen from here to April that separate draft picks. People around the NFL dissect every part of these players, which makes many of them rise and fall.

A Few of the Mock Drafts coming out have had the Raiders selecting a QB in the top 5. I don’t think that is the answer for a team lacking talent throughout the roster. Regardless of who plays QB for the Raiders, they are going to need weapons around them. That starts with an offensive-line that needs depth and more aggression. The Raiders receivers and tight ends have been mediocre and inconsistent at best. The running-backs have been better, but Rashaad Jennings and Darren McFadden might not be on this team. I don’t like the idea of having a young quarterback, RB, and WR. People think the Raiders should draft a QB in the first round usually believe it is time for the Raiders to stop seeking stop-gap QB’s, and  should draft their franchise QB.

It is not that easy to draft a franchise QB. It is rare that a QB immediately comes in and changes the culture. If Dennis Allen is brought back, He and Reggie Mckenzie can not afford for a franchise QB to have growing pains. Their jobs will rely on the success of a 1st round QB’s leadership and success. Neither can Mark Davis afford another losing season if he wants to keep the Raiders in Oakland.

Free Agency:

I think the Raiders should go out and sign or trade for another QB. If Jay Cutler is available, some people think he is the answer, however, the Raiders just traded a gun-slinging QB named Carson Palmer. Not to mention, Jay Cutler is going to be owed lots of money.If Eli Manning becomes available than he probably falls into this same category. Both are upgrades, but are they the answer? Maybe in Al Davis days…

Then there are the backups like Ryan Mallett or Kirk Cousins. I am weary on those solutions because of the Matt Flynn effect. Backup QB’s are Backups for a reason! Mental reps are great, but they don’t equal results and neither of these guys have extensive experience.

There are also the Salvage projects. Maybe the Raiders think they can salvage some  production out of Michael Vick. Maybe they believe Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman, or Matt Schaub can benefit from a change of scenery. These guys have competed at a highlevel, and the Raiders don’t have anyone on the roster like that.

Brandan Weeden, Jake Lockert, Jimmy Clausen, Christian Ponder, and Dwayne Gabbert,  have all flashed ability. They are also draft busts, which is why their former teams may decide to go in another direction. Sometimes a new situation can spark new direction for a quarterback. Rich Gannon is an example of that, but there are many others who have failed. The Raiders have gone this route before, but these guys were drafted high for a reason. Maybe one more season can remind people of that.

Then there are the journeymen: Jason Campbell, Luke McCown, Chad Henne, Ryan Firzpaterick, or Chad Henne. These guys days as potential starters are behind them. While they are not franchise guys, they do have starting experience, and could lead a team with good players around them.At any rate, Any of these guys give the Raiders competition at the position to push Pryor, McGloin, or any other quarterback. Maybe with the right coaches and play-makers in place,  they can lead a playoff team. It has been done before, ask Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson.

The Draft:

I am no where qualified to talk on the draft. I haven’t done hours of extensive film research, dissecting these quarterbacks, but here are my thoughts on the QB class based on my reading and observations.

So far, the consensus #1 QB in the draft is Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville. It is hard to find a scenario where the Jaguars and Texans pass on him. Hence, I don’t think the Raiders answer is at the top of the draft. It seems like most of the QB’s in this draft have their strengths and weaknesses, but Bridgewater is the only can’t miss.

After Bridgewater, it seems like Derek Carr is the next guy, but his last name is Carr, and he played at Fresno State. That may be a plus for some fans, however, to me, those are minuses.

Then some people have the electric TAMU Johnny Manziel and others think UCF’s Blake Bortes are shooting up draft boards.  However, I am not sure either of these guys are ready to change a franchise on day 1. These guys could go anywhere in the first or second round. I think they have strengths and potential, but are they Andrew Luck? I’d be presently surprised if they are. Maybe in the 2nd round, but the Raiders have two many needs to take a chance on one of these guys in rd. 1.

The Raiders are better off drafting a value guy in the Late Rounds. Maybe Clemson’s Tahj Boyd on day two, or Miami’s Stephen Morris on day 3. How about a developmental pick like Georgia’s Aaron Murray or LSU’s Zach MettenBerger. Both guys are hurt, but they have had high draft ratings before and maybe a year of seasoning could help them. They would be a great value on day 2 0r 3 of the draft.  San Jose’s David Fales or Alabama’s A.J. McCarron could have as much upside as Bortes, Carr, or Manziel but would be a much better draft value. All of these guys have starting experience and some consistency at a high level, which could translate to the next level.

The Raiders have too many needs to think drafting a QB #1 will change all of their problems. There is enough value in the later rds for the Raiders to take a chance that one of those guys can push a guy on the roster or a guy they bring in. Either way, the Raiders hope the guy they draft will pan out better than Tyler Wilson.

Pryor and McGloin deserve another Off-season

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The Quarterback position is the toughest position in the NFL. When a team succeeds than the QB gets the credit, and when a team loses they usually take the blame. A QB can be loved one week and hated the next. There are only about 90 QB jobs in the NFL, so it is a position based on the results.

Translated to the Raiders, the quarterback position embodies The Raiders season. At times, Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin have showed ability to compete and make plays at this level. Other times, they have looked over-matched and over-ratted. Raider Analyst Rich Gannon and Raider Beat Writer Vic Tafur have both said next year’s starting QB is not on this roster. Last week, I was going to write that the Raiders QB shouldn’t be drafted in the higher rounds. Since, my status has wavered, but I still don’t think the Raiders answer is the high rounds of the draft.

The Raiders came into the season knowing they were salary-strapped, which limited the talent on the squad. The Raiders brought Matt Flynn in hopes that he could manage the game, and not hurt the team’s chances of winnings, despite the limited amount of players around him. When that failed, They started Terrelle Pryor in hopes that he could succeed despite his make-shift offensively. They hoped Terrelle Pryor could be the explosive play-maker, even-though McFadden and other guys were hurt. Then they brought in McGloin, hoping he c0uld be the intangible leader and get the ball out quick despite McFadden, Moore, and other guys being hurt.

The idea is, The Raiders have set their quarterback’s up for failure, all season. They have hoped that McGloin and Pryor would be able to make magic with a limitation of ingredients in their playmaker pantry. Both of these guys are young quarterbacks with limitations, but the Raiders have hoped they would be able to have success in spite of their terrible circumstances. McGloin and Pryor have been expected to do a lot with a little.

I want to see what these guys can do with a full set of playmakers around them. I want to see what they can do in a position where they can actually succeed. I want to evaluate if they can be successful in propelling a playoff team rather than a bottom feeder.

Pryor made leaps and bounds last off-season, admiting he still is just learning the position. I want to see if he can make the same growth after another off-season. I think the play of McGloin may signal that the organization is sour on Pryor. He has been in the organization long enough, and maybe he doesn’t deserve another season of evaluation. However, Pryor admitted he didn’t play the position until two years ago. He is still learing how to be a quarterback, and I think he can still develop with another year. Pryor has the leadership and confidence that you want in a Quarterback. He has some of the best god-given ability in the NFL. I think Pryor wants and can give more to the organization that took a chance on him. Even if he fails to progress, his contract ends next season and both can move on.

As for McGloin, if this guy is the intangible hard-worker and leader, then I want to see what he can do after an off-season of NFL preparation. The Raiders have already invested five NFL starts into McGloin, so he needs another offseason to prove he can play at this level. McGloin is undersized, he was the underdog walk on, and he probably will be an underdog next season. If McGloin possesses the leadership and work ethic the organization says he does, then I want to see if he can translate that into success. Maybe five starts is enough, but even if he fails he can be cut like any other non-drafted rookie.

I think both of these guys have flashed enough ability, surrounded by a lack of talent, that they deserve another season before the judge is out. I don’t think the Raiders need to draft a Quarterback in the top rounds. They have already spent giving these guys a season of experience. It is time to give them an off-season for progression, and hopefully they can actually be set up for success.

I will agree that there is a great possibility neither of these guys are the answer. I do think there needs to be more QB competition next season. I just don’t think it should come from the first or 2nd round of the draft. I prefer for the team to sign a veteran free agent, or draft a developmental project not named Tyler Wilson. Either way, Pryor and McGloin can be cut after training camp, but I think they deserve another opportunity to improve in camp.

Not For Long Raiders….

To most the NFL stands for National Football League, but to many others it stands for Not For Long. My oh My, what a difference a few weeks makes in the NFL.

A few weeks ago the Raiders were a young team aspiring for the Playoffs.

There hopes were centered around an explosive, Athletic Quarterback named Terrelle Pryor, a pro-bowl RB named Darren Mcfadden, and a breakout WR named Denarious Moore.

Fast forward a few weeks and the Raiders Playoff hopes are microscopic enough to rival Jamarcus Russell’s comeback hopes.

Not only has QB Terrelle Pryor gotten hurt, but he was superseded and outplayed by an undrafted rookie named Matt McGloin.

McFadden has been hurt all season, and veteran Rashaad Jennings has many people wondering if McFadden’s days in Silver and Black are numbered.  Moore has been the same inconsistent and banged up player fans have become accustomed to, but Andre Holmes has stolen much of his spotlight.

As a Raider Fan, it is hard to not see such talented players not succeeding for the Raiders. As fans, every week we tell ourselves this is the week that McFadden, Reece, or Pryor will get it.

While there have been glimpses, this is a league based on results.  They haven’t gotten it done, and the team is suffering.

In Contrast, as an organization, the team is happy with the success of McGloin, Jennings, and Holmes.

This is an example of the ‘next man up’ culture of competition that Reggie Mckenzie has wanted to established.

In context, we can apply the old cliche. If you have two than you really don’t have one, and for the Raiders that is the case at WR, RB, and QB.  Therefore, the team may be competitive, it may be on the rise, but talent is still lacking. Maybe the team isn’t the last place team ESPN analyst’s initially

thought they were, but they aren’t the Playoff team fans hoped for either.

In a recent interview, Coach Dennis Allen talked about this team being different

than last year’s. Allen said he doesn’t expect this team to quit on the season

or lose commitment.  Part of that is probably because much of the team has one year remaining on their contracts, and everyone is playing for contract somewhere.

The truth is, Allen can not afford to have this team quit on him. Allen may have all the potential in the world, but this is a league of results. Just ask McFadden.  Owner Marc Davis wants progress andfailing to win a few of the remaining games will result in Allen leading the unemployment line.

If McKenzie wants a culture of accountability it starts at the Head Coach, runs through the Quarterback, Runningback, and Wide Receivers. I just worry, the Raiders might get derailed if they have to replace all four. Regardless, no ones job on this team is safe, and these last four games will determine the faces of the franchise team going forward.

Either way, The Raiders have 70 million in cap room next season. Brighter days are finally on the horizons of this team, but these last four games will determine who is apart of it.  If this Raiders team is really different than the last 10 other losing teams, they are certainly running out of time to show it.

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