December 23, 2013

RAIDERS 2013 AUTOPSY.

RIGHT off the bat, Let me say that I want Coach back next year. I don't want ANY confusion on where I stand with that. I could sit here and say that this 4-12 is better than last year's 4-12, but to me that's too much like ignoring being 4-12 two years in a row. We got some of our bigger problems fixed, but there are still some looming doosies. That said, let's get to this autopsy for the RAIDERS 2013 season. We'll start with the problems.

QB Roulette:

There is no secret that I was pulling for Terrelle Pryor as the Starting QB. But 5 TD's to 10 picks (before he was benched) requires that you send a message to your roster about how results are to be valued over potential. Enter Matt McGloin. Early on he looked like he was shutting the door on Terrelle Pryor as the starter, but recently Pryor has begun to see snaps during real games again. In fact he has 10 attempts (3 completions), and 6 rushes in 2 of the last 3 games (he didn't have any yesterday). This team has had THREE named starters since July. That has to stop.

Passing Game:

The fact that we can run the ball and that we've been in all but 2 games this year (we rallied in that second Chiefs game), says that the problem isn't with the offensive philosophy. But the idea that Matt Flynn, Terrelle Pryor, and Matt McGloin have all had some issue or another says that either the QB coach John DeFilippo isn't helping to translate the offense to his passers strengths; or (more likely) that there is some basic breakdown in the passing concept inherent in the way all the passing plays are drawn up from the get go. 

My thinking is that it's the second one. 1) There flat out isn't enough TE involvement (this includes FB Marcel Reece BTW), as they are sacrificed as blockers too often; and 2) There are WAAAAAAY too many plays where the WR's line up in bunches close to the O-line, instead of spread out. Yes, I know this is supposed to dissuade DB blitzes by making the DB's have to hash out who has who; but the mucky part is it takes longer for the WR's separate and allowed the front 4 to apply enough pressure. On plays where the opposing defense brings 6, it looks like lions taking down a buffalo on Animal Kingdom.

Defensive Talent:

The loss of Tyvon Branch was Desastre El Massivo. Granted we still had some issues back there, and still would have had some of those issues had Branch suited up every game; but without him back there, there were more breakdowns in communication, and then other plays that didn't get made because there was flat out no one on the roster who could physically do what Branch does. I'd like to see Charles Woodson transitioned to a DB coach/coach on the field next year. A guy who plays in the Nickel and in the redzone. Otherwise it's time to go get a star at FS. (Possibly Jairus Byrd? And CB Brent Grimes would also look GREAT in Silver and Black, as well.)

We also need a full-on legit 4-3 passrusher. I said in the offseason that in games where we played without a decent passrush, we'd get blown out. Not just lose, but get blown out. I wasn't wrong about that. Lamarr Houston is a solid 4-3 DE but he is not a pass rush specialist. We need a guy. That way the back end and front end of the defense improve all at once.

Those are the three biggest issues to fix. Two of them internally and without spending a dime. Judging from Flynn's play in GB, Pryor's play when he plays and doesn't force it, and McGloin also having success, I think the RAIDERS just need to fix a couple minor issues with our passing concepts and then just commit to a QB. Warts and all. Defensive talent will be expensive, but it'll be worth it. Personally this is also where I'd like to see the Draft focused.

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