Blog Archives

Defensive Backs creating a Culture

Dennis Allen is most notably connected to the New Orleans Saints Championship Team. What did he coach? Defensive Backs, and it seems like he is finally transferring that knowledge to the silver and black. That Saints team was noted for takeovers in the secondary, but the only thing the Raiders secondary has been noted for is giving up records, having a revolving door, and of course injuries.

Dj Hayden being hurt is not news, but it has still been the news of training camp. In his place, Chidekwa and T.J. Carrie have been capturing Raiders fans’ hearts. Combined with veterans Tarrell Brown and Carlos Rodgers, it seems like the Raiders defensive backs can be a building block of the future.

From top to bottom, this group has a lot to be excited about. Taiwan Jones has already carved a niche as a special teamer, and rookie Keith McGill looks to do the same. Safeties Ras-Dowling, Brandan Ross and Usama Young look to compete for playing time and a roster spot, as well.

We already know how good our starting safeties are with Tyvon Branch and Charles Woodson. The knowledge and intangibles of the four veterans in the group seem to be trickling down, and should stay with the team as it continues to grow a winning culture. Evident by the level of competition from Carrie and Chidekwa, it seems that the Raiders could have a legion of boom brewing. The Seawhawks most notably developed their infamous secondary mostly from mid level draft picks.

As long as the Raiders continue to inspire a culture of competition, I expect to see the late round draft picks continuing to develop into contributors able to utilize their potential. Either way, I am glad to finally see Dennis Allen’s specialty coming to the Raiders.

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No Suprise if Raiders select Evans

Mike Evans showcases abilities and athletecism at NFL Scouting Combine, via SI.com


Many in the media, have predicted a for-gone conclusion that the Raiders will target Khalil Mack or Sammy Watkins with the fifth draft pick. Otherwise, the two may consider some of the elite tackles, but will likely trade down the board.

However, in the scenario that Mack and Watkins are off of the board, could the Raiders hold their water and select Mike Evans. NBC football talk reported the Raiders may lean towards Evans over Watkins, and another source broke their was a team in the top ten with similar thinking.

Well I have been adament about the Raiders selected Watkins, it would not suprise me if they select Evans even if Watkins is available.

The truth is, Reggie McKenzie likes big recievers. Evans could be the big possession reciever for Greg Olsen’s west coast offense. Sure they already have Rod Streater and Andre Holmes in that role, but who wouldn’t want another big reciever as there is a trend of defensive backs getting bigger and more physical.

McKenzie already admitted in interest in the one and one a recievers of this class of Evans and Watkins. He said he would take their great abilities over the rest of the classes’ good abilities anydays.

While Watkins may be the more polished and pro ready reciever, Evans seems to have more upside, with a 6’5 frame and fast fourty time. He does not offer the same value as Watkins in space and returning, but Evans has plenty of god given talent.

It is tough to evaluate him, because he played with Johnny Manziel. Just as many times as he took over games with big plays, he also dissapperead. No one is sure if Evans made Manziel or vice versa, but both have value at the next level.

However, this could just as well be a smoke screen to increase leverage at trading out of their pick. Or it could be a method to hide the Raiders’ interest, whom the media thinks they have predicted.

Ideally, either Watkins or Evans would be needed additions to a Raiders’ offense which is desperate for an identity. Matt Schaub should be happy to get either of these guys, but it would not suprise me if the Raiders stay at five and select Evans over Watkins.

Even if it is a reach, McKenzie proved last season, he is willing to get the player he wants even if it is at a higher cost. Whatever the decision is, hopefully it pans out for McKenzie, because this will be his defining draft selection.

Five Available Free Agents Raiders Should Consider

The marquee names and signings have already been sucked out of the Free Agency Market. Yet, the Raiders were a team desperate for depth last season, combined with raised expectations from management and fans, the Raiders could do well to continue looking at the Free Agent Market. Most of the players available are young players looking for one more chance to disprove the bust label or veterans looking for one last pay day. There are plenty of guys with injury or off-field concerns, but could be low risk-high reward additions. Considering they still have some of the most money available to spend, here are five of the best free agents who could fufill a need.

1. Anthony Spencer DE/OLB Cowboys

Two seasons ago, Spencer racked double digit sacks playing across from Demarcus Wate. His career in Dallas rewarded him with consecutive franchise tags, but that ended once he suffered a season ending knee injury. Something must not be right healthwise, for Spencer to still be available. However, Spencer maintains value as a pass rusher. Evident by the Raiders attempt to lure Jared Allen, they are not afraid to stack pass rushers. Spencer fits the 30 year-old, something to prove veteran player build Reggie McKenzie has acquired all free agency. He possess value as a right end behind Justin Tuck, a LEO behind Woodley, or even a Sam LB behind Sio Moore. Spencer’s versatility could be had for a bargain price now, as he continues to heal up. Jason Tarver could do well having SPencer at his disposal for any of the mentioned relief roles. Could also push those guys for playing time, either way the Raiders can not have enough Depth up-front.

2. Kevin Williams DT Vikings

Kevin Williams has spent his entire career stuffing the run, racking up pro-bowls, and being a constant professional for the Minnesota Vikings. Williams has not turned his cheek on the Vikings, but seeing their acquisitions paints the picture on the wall. The Raiders did well, re-upping with run stuffer Pat Simms, but he has nowhere near the decorated career Williams holds. As mentioned before, the Raiders need bodies up-front, and Kevin Williams is still a big and capable one technique. Having him rotate with simms should give the Raiders no excuse for not dominating against the run. Williams may still have enough to bounce into the 3 technique and really scare some interior linemen.

3. Pat Agerer ILB Colts

The former second round pick of the colts has struggled to stay on the field. Signing him would mean the Raiders are banking on his health, but even if he gets hurt again, the Raiders could simply cut him. Adding Agerer would keep Nick Roach honest by having competition. Depending on where you fall on the spectrum, you either love or hate Roach, but having Agerer as an alternate would improve the Raiders Defense. If Agerer pans out the two could be used in combination as inside backers in 3-4 fronts, or Roach could move back to his natural position, Weakside Backer.

4. Terrance Cody NT Ravens

Cody has not been the dominate nose tackle he was suppossed to be since being drafted from Alabama. He is still a huge presence (literally) and only 27 years old. Maybe he can finally become motivated to be the player her was suppossed to be. Adding him as a true Nose Tackle will insure blocks will be eaten up(not literally), which is good considering our linebackers are not the best at taking up blocks. Cody will probably never be a great pass rusher, considering he has never registered a sack, but his size could mean freeing up other blockers for runs at the QB in Tarvers scheme.

5. Thomas DeCoud Safety Falcons

There are a lot of starts still available in the Safety Market. However, their is also a lot of age as well. DeCloud sticks out because he is only 29 years old and has a pro-bowl to his name. Last season was a downer in Atlanta, but he should be able to compete with Usama Young for Charles Woodson’s relief and Special Teams play. Why make a move for another safety? Woodson is not getting any younger, and Usama Young suffered a long injury last season. Young could do well with a little competition from DeCloud.

Disclaimer: I left out guys like Erin Henderson and Fred Davis because even though they have talent, McKenzie’s track record shows he is not a fan of off-field baggage. Added Santonio Holmes, Kellen Winslow were left off for their big heads not fitting the culture of the Raiders. Jermichael Finley has to be cleared before I consider him if I am the Raiders. Darryn Colledge was the next name to not make this list. Colledge is familar with McKenzie from Green Bay, but the Raiders have already added so much OLine, I am not sure if more help is on the way.

Other notables: Adrian Wilson, Yeremiah Bell, Terrell Thomas, Miles Austin, Sidney Rice,Quintin mikell Davin Joseph, Harvey Dahl, Uche Nwaheri, Daryn Colledge.

All in all, I think the Raiders will probably wait until the draft before adding more free agents. I am sure they want to see how the draft pans out before adding more depth acquisitions

Don’t Sleep on Antonio Smith or Tarrell Brown

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Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie capped off the First week of Free Agency by signing two under the radar Free Agents Tarrell Brown and Antonio Smith. Although neither have the name recognition of Justin Tuck or LaMarr Woodley both could have just a big of an impact on the Raiders Defense.

Brown Comes from just across the Bay as a former 49er. Last season he did not have his best effort as he did not record an interception in 10 starts. However the two seasons before he started every game and recorded a combined 6 interceptions. Playing with the 49ers, Brown has the playoff experience which Raiders young secondary members such as DJ Hayden can learn from. 

Brown may not be a pro-bowler but he has a lot of value as a starter or coveraging the slot. He is an above average tackler and his one of Pro Football Focus’ highly graded corner. He should be able to play the man or zone coverages required of Tarver’s scheme. Best part about this deal is the deal is only one year and worth $3.5 million, meaning their is no long term commitment for either side. 

As for Smith, the former Texan and self-proclaimed ninja brings the defensive line some more versatility. With the Texans he was primarily used as a defensive end lined up in the 5 technique. With the Raiders he will probably be utilized in those sets on some of the versatile schemes utilized by the Raiders. The Pass Rusher will also line-up as a pass rusher in the 3-technique.

Sure Smith is approaching 33 years of age, but he played well for the Texans recording 5 of his 41 career sacks. He is also stout against the run and could be critical in helping Stacey McGee develop along the Raiders Defensive Line rotation. Smith will be a critical element of keeping the defensive line fresh and also being able to mix up fronts and stunts for oppossing offensive lines.

Overall, neither of these guys have much household recognition. Fortunately they continue McKenzie’s trend of adding high leadership and work-ethic players to aid the development of our struggling organization. It is not going to happen overnight so having veterans capable of playing well young players develop is critical. Brown and Smith can both play at a high level and will be critical elements of the defensive rotation regardless of who else is brought in via free agency or draft. The best part about both of these signings is they are relatively cheap and offer low risk to the franchise.

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Who is Left in Free Agency

Alex Mack is the Best Free Agent Still Available and should be on Raiders list still

Guess What? There is still a long way until the NFL and draft and even longer until the season starts. The Raiders have not been the figurehead to Free Agency as many would have hoped, but they still have more than 50 million in cap space, and plenty of needs along the roster.

Offensive Line Hoggies do not recieve a lot of recognition, so I am going to group them together.
Alex Mack- Mack was one of the best centers in the game last season, and at 28 years old is the best free agent left on the market. The Raiders could benefit from selecting him and sliding the wiz kid to guard. However, cleveland can match any deal made to him and he will probably want a huge deal making it unlikely he becomes a Raider.

Brian De La Puente-
The former saints center could be a nice starter to help sure up the offensive line. Has performed decent, but probably deserves starting money. If number is right, this Saint connection could become a Raider easily, as a guard or Center.

Donald Penn-
The former undrafted free agent has been a beast for Tampa over the years and has not missed any games. At 31, I am not sure if he is going to get any better, however he is probably the only capable Left tackle available. He has visited with the Raiders and indications are it has been a successful. Raiders can not afford to let him leave as they need a replacement for Veldheer.

Michael Oher-
Oher, yes the one from the movie, is still relatively young at 27. Even if the Raiders ink Penn, Oher would be a nice addition as a guard or solid depth. He has regressed some the past couple of seasons, but a change of scenery could benefit him.

Darryn Colledge-
the Boise State product has been a guard as Green Back Packer and Arizona Cardinal. He is far from a pro-bowler, but he is a servicable starter. At worst, he would be a solid option for depth. He has arms long enough to play tackle combined with enough speed and power to pay guard. He should not command anywhere near the 4 million he would have made with Cardinals, so the Raiders should come into play, especially with Reggie McKenzie’s connection to the former Packer.

Other Names-Zach Strief, Tyson Clabo, Eric Winston, John Jerry, Kevin Boothe, Davin Joseph, Uche Nawaneri, Richie Incognito

Secondary-
The Raiders need to address the Defensive Back field as they have yet to resign incumbants Mike Jenkins or Charles Woodson. Specifically they need to add atleast one or two cornerbacks to pair with D.J Hayden, as well as added insurance in the even Hayden goes down with injury. *As I wrote this, Tarrell Brown was signed for the Raiders. Great move, underrated cover corner familiar with the bay area. He will do well as a starter, but I would perfer him as a nickle Back and insurance policy to DJ Hayden. Raiders could still add another corner for starter purposes and a FS. Brown was a great start, but here are a few other guys.

Guys I like:
Mike Jenkins-
Raiders brought Jenkins in on a one year prove it deal. He played up and down but is worthy of another affordable deal. He is versatile and would give raiders some continuity they have been lacking. There are a lot of teams interested in the former pro bowler and versatile CB, so I am not sure Raiders will bring him back especially if they have not done so already. However he is the capable and versatile starter to compliment Hayden. He Brown and Hayden would make the corner position sured up for the raiders in the immediate future.

Walter Thurmond-
Thurmond is still relatively young and coming off a superbowl year. He was primarily a back-up which could lead to him getting over payed. He would still be an upgrade over the other Raiders Cornerbacks.

Antonio Cromartie-
Entering his 30’s Cromartie is no longer the player he once was. However, he is still scheme versatile, athletic, and a competitor. Cromartie doesn’t reflect the high charachter guys Raiders have targeted, but I’m sure Raiders could offer him more then anyone else, and I know he would not turn down one last pay day, as well as a chance to be back in Cali weather.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie-
He is by far the best corner available due to age and the fact he is coming off a great season with the Broncos. He did already turn down a 9 million dollar avg. deal from the Broncos so he may overvalue himself. Raiders may not fork out the money he wants, but he would be the best #1 corner Raiders could get, while forming a good duo with Hayden. Not to mention he can play former team Broncos twice a year. No offers from Raiders yet could change once raiders sure up needs.

Terrell Thomas-
By most accounts, Thomas was mediocre in 2014 after consecutive ACL injuries. He was a productive player before and could be an affordable nickle back for Raiders. He could reunite with Justin Tuck and prove he still has plenty left in the tank. He already made a visit so the mutual interest is there.

Other names- Rashaad Mathis, Asante Samuel, Champ Bailey, Carlos Rodgers, Dunta Robinson, Anotine Cason, Drayton Florence, Josh Wilson, Aaron Ross

*All of these guys have proven capable at a time. However, many of them are on the decline due to diminishing skill from increased age or injury. Could be training camp guys without a shot at making the roster and proving themselves worthy.

Safety Position
There are plenty of stzrts in this Safety pool. However many are their for injury concerns or dip in production:

Charles Wooson-
You already know why, and how much he means to our franchise. Proved he has plenty to offer a team in nead of leadership and playmakers. Numbers have to be write to bring in a guy closer to 40.

Chris Clemons-
Regardless if Raiders get Charles Woodson they’ll need a second safety to make sure he does not take so many snaps. Clemons is the best available as we speak. He has only missed three games in four seasons.

Nate Allen-
He has underachieved with the Eagles, but at 26 years old he is an affordable back-up option. We could hope he learns something from Playing under Charles Woodson a year.

Other Names- Usama Young, Roman Harper, Quintin Mikell, Kendrick Lewis, Thomas Decloud, Brandan Merriweather, Michael Huff

Defensive Line

Raiders announced signing of LaMarr Woodley and Justin Tuck yesterday. The two would still benefit from having a pass rushing pressence on the inside.

Henry Melton-
Melton was a pro-bowler and is a versatile passrusher despite being undersized. He is coming off injury and an off field arrest which could have made Raiders shy away thus far. Melton could really be useful replacing Houston as an undersized bass rusher on the inside. Give him a fat one year prove it deal.. Please!

Kevin Williams-
I have been very adament about the 6 time pro-bowler. He is approaching age 33 but he can be effective as a two down run stopper. He is better then Vance Walker or Patt Simms. With something left to prove, he could be the bargain Reggie McKenzie looks for considering their has not been a lot of interest.

Vance Walker-
Even if the Raiders can court one of the three guys above, Walker would still be an effective back up. He knows the Raiders defense and is capable of stopping the run.

Antonio Smith-
The former Texan is already visiting. Coming off a 5 sack season he can play the end position in a five technique or DT as a 3 technique. They could do a lot worse then the Veteran Smith, but he is not my first option.

Other Names- Terrance Cody, Patt Simms, Patrick Carriker, Robert Ayers

Inside Linebacker
Regardless of what you think about Nick Roach, The Raiders could use an upgrade on the inside, and Roach could be better utilized in his natural position as an outside linebacker.

Brandan Spikes-
Spikes is only 26 years old. He had a falling out with the Patriots, so why not come to the Raiders. He is a two down thumper, but the Raiders need that, especially if they utilize more 4 linebacker sets. I’m sure if the Raiders called, he would be happy to take their payday, even if it is only a one year prove it deal due to his injury last season.

Akeem Ayers-
He has started a lot of games for the Rival chiefs. If nothing else he is an affordable depth option to push Nick Roach.

ErIn Henderson-
Henderson has had his fair share of off the field incidents with 2 DUI arrests, allegedly. However, He can play and with little interest could be some real value for Raiders on all three downs.

Other Names: Dan Conner, Jonathan Vilma, Nick Barnett, Larry Foote, Pat Angerer, Desmond Bishop

Here is the full list of Available Targets :

Notice: I excluded QBs, RBs, and WRs because they have not been very high in demand. McKenzie is either waiting to address other needs and let their stock fall, or he would rather address those needs via the Draft in May.

The Raiders Need Sammy Watkins


With a team desolated of playmakers and desperate for an identity, the Raiders have an oppurtunity to select Clemson Wide Out Sammy Watkins whom could change all of that presuming he is available with the #5 draft pick.

I have been an advocate for the Raiders selecting Watkins, however, earlier I broke down the deep recieving corps in this draft class. Any number of those guys could provide value to the Raiders, which would warrant a pass on Watkins and opting for a reciever in later rounds.

Since Watkins’ pro-day a few days ago, my stance has changed. The Raiders need Watkins to provide his explosive playmaking ability which could be the identity for the team. In his pro-day Watkins proved he was the best reciever in the class once again. Some even said it was one of the best pro-day workouts ever.

NFL Network Draft Guru Mike Mayock said Watkins is one of the best recievers he has analyzed in over 10 years. That is a great compliment. He very well may end up as one of the best players in this entire draft class.

As Raider fans, we still blame the organization for passing on Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson when there was an oppurtunity to draft either in their respective drafts.

Watkins showcased his capabilities in the Orange Bowl, where he put up 16 catches, with two TDs and over 200 yards against Ohio State. At Clemson he showcased his ability to line-up inside or outside. His speed was often showcased in the open field and his agility and accelartion displayed with a diverse route tree. Not only that, but has even showed a willing ness to block combined with a swagger the Raiders are looking for.

At the Combine, Watkins told NFL teams in interviews that he loves to dominate defenses. Denarius Moore could really learn from that midset. Leading up to the combine, Watkins hyped fans up by saying he would run a record setting time. His 4.43 official team underwhelmed but his game tape indicates plenty of speed for seperation at the next level. Watkin’s swagger and confidence are something the Raiders have been void of for years.

He elected to sit on his 40 time at the pro-day. Instead, Watkins made an impression with his route running, soft hands, and accelartion just like he did on tape and at the combine.

From a purely football perspective, Watkins can impact games after the catch or going deep. He can run screens, end arounds, and has plenty of value as a returner. Offensive Coordinator Greg Olsen could utilize Watkins and build the team’s offense around Watkins. For the first time in a long time, The Raiders could have an offensive identity with Watkins ability to change games(The Way Mcfadden was suppossed). He can line up in the slot and free up space for Moore or Rivera. He is fast enough to stretch the field for Streater and Holmes. Watkin’s hands are reliable enough for whoever trots out at QB for the Raiders. Neither is he afraid to open up wholes for a Raider running back.

The biggest knock on Watkins is he does not do anything spectacular. listed under 6’2 he does not very impressive size, nor is his 40 time spectacular, but his ability to impact games is surely spectacular. He is not the Big Fitzgerald, Megatron, or Julio jones. However, he is not the liability that Darius Heyward-Bey was either.

Watkins had the consistence in college that DHB did not out of Maryland, and Watkins played with another NFL quality reciver (Imagine if he didn’t?). DHB was suppossed to be the number one reciever for years to come, but has shown he is only a #3 reciever on his best day. Therefore, fans and management should not be weary of selecting a reciever high in the draft even if their is enough depth in the draft. The Raiders have yet to recover from Tim Brown days of having a true number one reciver. Selecting Watkins will allow Moore and Streater to thrive in the complimentary roles they are suited for.

The Raiders can not afford to let history repeat itself. Selecting Watkins makes too much sense for the Raiders. Watkins is one of the best prospects in the entire draft, he fills a team need, has a high ceiling, has swagger, and can impact games. This draft is too important for the Raiders to miss on, and Watkins has been labeled the can not miss player in the draft.

Defensive Players like Clowney and Mack come around once in a while too. But with Watkins you are talking about a guy who can legitimately score anytime he touches the ball, anywhere on the field. That is a value you don’t pass on as their will be other defensive prospects in FA and in later rounds.

He is the impact player Reggie Mckenzie and Dennis Allen are looking for, and the identity Mark Davis is looking for. It is becoming more evident the Raiders are not going to find that guy in Free agency. All the team needs to do is make the selection at #5 and let this guy dominate on sundays.

If he can make Tahj Boyd shine in college, surely he can do the same for any of the Raiders QBs. The Raiders do not need to draft a quarterback at the top of the draft, as they will have to wait for him to develop. Watkins is pro-ready and is the Nasty, Fast, and explosive player whom could be the face of the franchise for years to come. As an organization desperate to give their city and fanbase some hope of winning, Sammy Watkins has to be the pick when the may 2nd draft roles around.

Bargain Bin Free Agents

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FA DE Justin Tuck

Anyone who thinks the Raiders are going to break the bank for any big time free agents is living in a fantasy world. GM Reggie McKenzie has a background in a Packers organization that doesn’t over pay for free agents. McKenzie himself has stressed building through the draft, which will be his primary means of building this team.

I don’t expect the Raiders to go out and spend all of their money in one place. They finally got out of salary cap hell, and I don’t think McKenzie wants to put his franchise in jeopardy of a similar fate. I think The GM will repeat his trend of signing low-risk, high-reward veteran free agents. Here are some less popular names the Raiders could net on a bargain rate.

Defensive line 

One of the Raiders biggest glaring need is on the defensive line. In a pass happy league, pass rushers are at a premium and this free agent class has quite a few.

Henry Melton, DT, Bears

After receiving the franchise tag last off season, Henry Melton suffered an injury in week 3. As a consequence, the Bears finished 30th against the run. Melton could easily come in and be the pass rushing 3 technique the Raiders have been wanting. The fact that he is coming off a major injury could mean a discount.

Justin Tuck, De, Giants

Justin Tuck has reportedly said he will not give the New York Giants a hometown discount. Tuck’s days in big blue could be over for the same reason Umenyera’s were last off season. Tuck has had his fair share of injury concerns over the past 3 seasons. However, in 2013 he finished the year with 11 sacks in a rebound season. Tuck possesses the type of versatility Jason Tarver would love to have. He may have to sign a 1 year ‘prove it’ contract, and the Raiders have the cap and playing time to attract Tuck. At 31 years old, the Raiders may even be able to give this savvy veteran his last big pay day if they can come to terms on a decent long term deal. Either way adding Tuck’s championship experience is priceless.

Kevin Williams, DT, Vikings

At 33 years old Kevin Williams may no longer be the dominating run stopper and pass rusher he once was. Raiders fans may want his Viking teammate Jared Allen, but Williams may be the more realistic option. The Raiders may lose Pat Simms and/or Vance Walker, both of whom boosted the Raiders run defense, so Williams would be a better replacement. He is quick enough to be a 1 technique in a 4-3 or a nose in a 3-4. The Raiders should offer Williams his last multi year deal, which should be less than the 5 million dollar salary he played at last season.

Anthony Spencer, De, Cowboys

Like Melton, Spencer received the Franchise tag only to have a season ending injury early in the season. Spencer’s best season came in 2012 when he had his only season with double digit sacks. Big D, and many other teams may be hesitant to give him big money with a big injury and limited production. I think the Raiders would do well to add Spencer’s pass rush ability to  their defense on a one year deal. Tarver’s scheme could help Spencer showcase his talents as a stand up linebacker or hand down defensive linemen.

Other names: Antonio Smith, Tyson Jackson, Robert Ayers, Alex Carrington, Corey Peters, Justin Babineaux, Clinton McDonald, Randy Starks, Paul Solali
Secondary

The Raiders secondary could only take steps forward after a horrible 2012. Last years additions of Charles Woodson, Mike Jenkins, and Tracey Porter added much needed veteran savy to the secondary, however those guys are free agents again and the team could use an upgrade. Any of those 3 guys could return at a bargain rate but the Raiders should have their eyes on other names.

Walter Thurmond III, CB, Seahawks

Thurmond was the 4th best CB for the NFL champion Seahawks, but he could be a starter elsewhere. At only 26, he could be a lo key addition and physical corner prized by the Raiders defense. Personally I do not prize him as an ideal starter next to DJ Hayden but Thurmond could be a low cost substitution should the Raiders miss on the marquee free agents at the position…Aquib Talib, Brent Grimes, Vontae Davis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Charles Tillman, CB, Bears

Tillman is coming off one of his worst seasons because of injury and lack of production. However, he was one of the best corners not too long ago. His price will be right and physicality could boost the secondary. Tillman is in his 30s but he could be a good mentor for Hayden.

Malcolm Jenkins, FS, Saints

Jenkins time for New Orleans is all but up, because the team will scramble to free up cap for a big Jimmy Graham contract. Regardless if Woodson is back with the team, the Raiders need to address the FS position. Jenkins brings the kind of Versatility Tarver values in DBS. He is also 29 years old, has a Super Bowl ring with Dennis Allen and could be a discounted addition for the secondary in nickel and passing situations.

Antoine Bethea, SS, Colts

Another player with Super Bowl experience never hurts a team trying to make a playoff push. He may not be a great addition in coverage, but his is smart and boasted another 100+ tackle season. Some may prefer Donta Whitner, but I think Bethea is better in coverage. Either would be a much more affordable target than Julius Byrd.

Other names: Sam shields, Tarell Brown, Bernard Pollard, Nate Allen, Ryan Clark, Donte Whitner, ,

20140207-155222.jpg FA safety Malcolm Jenkins

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.

 

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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Keep the lockerroom antics in the Lockerroom Context

I’m glad that Terrelle Pryor helped put The “Dolphin Bullying scandal” into perspective. In an interview with Pro Football talk, Pryor said that he sees the bullying incident as the responsibility of team leaders specifically the Quarterback.

We all understand that bullying can happen anymore, regardless of shape or profession anyone can be victimized by bullying. I think its foolish to turn a blind eye to lots of the hazing that goes on in an NFL locker room. In general, football is a hyper masculine culture, where ‘boys will boys.’

As a former football player I understand what kind of banter goes on in the comfort of teammates. I think 80% of the things said are put into the context of jokes, because that is how men socialize. It can only be worse in a culture like the NFL because men are taught to be nasty and aggressive. This kind of behavior has been accepted throughout college and high school. Despite NFL players large checks and professional atmosphere they are still accustomed to a hyper masculine culture.

All that being said, it shouldn’t be alarming to hear about some of the antics that have allegedly taken place in the Dolphins Locker room

Many of the Dolphin Players and come out to say that Incognito is not a bad teammate nor is he a racist. I don’t think that is to turn against Martin more than it is a way to suggest that many of the teammates didn’t realize how bad the situation. Since, little boys many of them have been desensitived to racial slurs, hazing, and insults. While Martin may or not have been singled out, I don’t buy that Martin couldn’t have found one confidant amongst the 70 plus players in the lockerroom. Maybe Martin bottled up many of the emotions he was dealing with, but he plays one of the most physical games. He should have used the physical outlet of the game and taken it head up with Incognito in drills. Once things really got bad, he should have approached Incognito man to man, where there would have been a physical confrontation or a mutual understanding. Alternatively he could have approached a team leader. He could have approached one the defensive players who could punched Incognito in the face.

I guess my point is simply, hazing in the NFL happens.Rather its carrying the bags or stupid haircuts, hazing happens in a hyper masculine culture. The only way to reverse it by having the team leaders handle it internally. 12,000 vegas trips and every week strip club visits might have taken it to far. However as for the racial slurs and verbal harassment. One of the 70 people in the locker room should have risen to the occasion if things were as bad as they sound. But they didn’t probably because they didn’t see anything they haven’t seen since they were kids. Therefore all this info coming out about racial slurs, should stay in the lockerroom, because only the participants in that lockerroom understand the context and acceptability of those words. I’m not condoning anyone threatening, calling someone a racial slur, or having sex with one of their family members. We can’t act like these things are unheard of, and we can’t pretend like the context couldn’t have been a joke, because lockerroom cultures are different than anything mainstream. Obscenities in the real world are just everyday pieces of the NFL lockerroom.The more that develops from the Martin case will only be more of opening the can of worms that is the NFL Lockerroom.