2012 Season Review:
The Raiders continued their spiral that has been going on for over a decade now. Ever since the Super Bowl against the Tampa Bay Bucs in 2002 the Raiders have been in free fall. The good news for the Raiders is they are finally going a year without changing head coaches. They hired Dennis Allen last season and his first season did not go as planned in Oakland. The team was a joke from the first game on, when an injury to their long snapper caused them to make even a punt look like a calamity. The season did not get any better as they struggled on all phases of the game. I guess special teams gets a pass because Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler are All-Pro caliber players. Carson Palmer put up good statistics in the forms of yards and touchdowns, but that is because the Raiders were trailing so much this season they had to throw the ball so much. Despite the yards, Palmer was a turnover machine throwing interceptions at the worst times, fumbling and all other kinds of poor play. He didn’t get much help because, here is a shock to Raiders fans, HB Darren McFadden was injured… Again. The defense was a joke as well. not only did they have one of the worst secondaries in the league, but they cut their best LB, Rolando McClain mid-season due to off the field issues and character flaws. The defensive front is the best thing going for them with the aging Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly holding whats left of the defense together. Truth be told, the Raiders have a lot of work to do in the offseason, but as we said before, the one consolation they have going for them is at least they don’t have a coaching search going on for a change.
2013 Off Season Priorities
The Raiders are facing an offseason without changes in the front office or coaching staff. Dennis Allen is off to a rocky start, but the Raiders will give him a leash to get out from under bad contracts and mistakes of the past. The Raiders will have to show improvement in 2013 to show that the changes are working, but there will be a lot of work to do to replace the mistakes.
The Raiders are in QB limbo. They are stuck between the past and the future. They have no present. The trade for Carson Palmer when Jason Campbell got hurt in 2011 has set them back at the QB position. They brought in Matt Leinart to back up Palmer and he proved to be useless. in the 2011 supplemental draft the Raiders used a third round pick to select Terrell Pryor. He had his first full training camp and looked promising the one time Challengeflag got a look at him in the preseason. The problem the Raiders have is Pryor is a future guy and Palmer is past his prime. The decision this offseason will be what direction do the Raiders want to go. If they do go to Pryor, they need to have an offensive coordinator who has the vision to allow Pryor to use his mobility to help his limitations in the passing game.
Darren McFadden is coming to the end of his deal and is actually in a position where cutting him is not as dangerous of a salary cap hit. The problem for the Raiders is there is no back worthy of taking in the top 5 let alone the first round at all. The Raiders also do not own a second round pick, so they may have to wait till round 3 to draft a replacement for McFadden. They may have to stick with McFadden for one more year and hope he shakes the injury bug. If they do draft a running back in the middle rounds of the draft, an interesting guy is Marcus Lattimore – HB – South Carolina. Lattimore is a definite NFL talent, but he has a checkered injury past in college, and that could scare NFL teams away. People that have caution about Lattimore should be aware that another guy with injury concerns coming out of college was All Day Adrian Peterson, so the injuries in college may not have an effect on the NFL career. In free agency Reggie Bush – Mia would be a good fit, he is a USC guy, but he was tarnished by NCAA regulations that crippled the University. Some California residents may hold that against him and revolt if he is brought to Oakland.
The Raiders used a top pick in 2010 on Darius Heyward-Bey. This was one of Al Davis’ last picks. It was a terrible pick then, and it is a terrible pick now. Heyward-Bey has never proven to be a go to receiver, so the Raiders need an upgrade at this position. Denarius Moore had an off season in 2012 when compared to his 2011 numbers. The Raiders need to hit free agency hard and guys to look at are Greg Jennings – GB, Mike Wallace – Pit and Plaxico Burress – FA. They need to find a go-to receiver for whoever they decide to play quarterback next year.
The Raiders offensive line is a mess. Their best lineman, Khalif Barnes is a free agent so they need to find a way to keep him. Stefen Wisniewski is a decent center and he has room to grow so he should be kept. Every other position on the line is up for grabs. The problem for the Raiders is they do not have much in the draft, hopefully Luke Joeckel – OT – Texas A&M, falls to them in the draft but that is a pipe dream. They need to hit free agency hard for interior lineman Kevin Boothe – NYG, Rex Hadnot – SD are two guys that would fit in Oakland to fill out their line up.
The Raiders strength is the defensive line. Tommy Kelly is a stud at defensive tackle and Richard Seymour is still a good player at defensive end. Seymour is old and coming off injury, so he may retire either this offseason or in the near future. The Raiders need to get a replacement for Seymour, if not at least to play across from him. A big free agent to look at is Cliff Avril – Det, but he may not leave Detroit and have better offers from other teams. The guy to watch is George Selvie – Jac as a guy who can learn from Seymour and may be the right amount of money for the Raiders to get him to play. In the draft the Raiders could take Damontre Moore – DE – Texas A&M, in the first round, or Bjoern Werner – DE – Florida State with their number 3 pick. If Star Lotuellel – DT – Utah falls to 3 the Raiders would snatch him up to put beside Tommy Kelly and have a formidable defensive front. If they pass on a defensive lineman in the first round later guys at end consist of Corey Lemonier – DE – Auburn, or Mallichai Goodman – DE – Clemson.
The linebackers in Oakland are horrendous. With the state of the linebackers in Oakland, Phillip Wheeler is a free agent, but they should resign him basically because the others on the team are not better than him. Given the fact that Rolando McClain was let go late in the season, the Raiders could cash in at LB in the first round of the Draft. Jarvis Jones – OLB – Georgia is a guy that makes sense for the Raiders because he can play various positions. He can play ILB, OLB and rush end. To fill in the MLB spot free agents like Jasper Brinkley – Min, or Chase Blackburn – NYG would be a good fit to round out the starting linebackers.
The defensive backs in Oakland are a big question mark. Michael Huff is the only guy on the roster that is worthy of a starting spot and he can play both cornerback or safety. After Huff all three other spots are open. Because the cap space is getting low, Matt Giordano is a guy to keep at safety and use the other two spots for a young guy maybe a 4th or 5th round pick in the draft and sign a free agent. If the space is still available a guy like Shawn Williams – SS – Georgia makes sense for Oakland in the fourth round, and Raiders faithful will hope he grows into the position at the NFL level. There are plenty of guys at corner available in free agency and the Raiders should look at guys like Dominique Franks – Atl, Nate Clements – Cin and all Cowboys fans will shriek, but Mike Jenkins – Dal if he ever shakes injuries and returns to his rookie form, he could be an option if all else fails.
The Raiders need defensive help in the Draft. Prior to the National Championship game Challengeflag had a tough time choosing between Jarvis Jones – OLB – Georgia and Manti Te’o – MLB – Notre Dame. After the 7 missed tackles against Alabama it made it much easier to take Jones. Jones can fill multiple positions and allow the Raiders to go elsewhere in free agency and in the later rounds. They need help at CB and Safety, but at number 3, the Raiders are too high up to spend a pick on either of those positions. Without a Second Round pick, the third round pick should be a defensive back or a running back depending on what happens to Darren McFadden and free agency. Marcus Lattimore would be an interesting pick for the future if he can convince that the injuries are behind him.
The Raiders need a lot of help on both sides of the ball. The biggest move in the offseason will be securing the linebackers and the offensive line. They need to develop an offensive line that can handle elite pass rushers like Von Miller and Elvis Dumerville. They have a strong defensive line but age is a factor so they need to prepare for the future. The biggest offseason decision will come at quarterback. Terrell Pryor is at the stage where they need to find out what he actually is. Carson Palmer is a known commodity and they gave up so much to get him that they may try to squeeze one more year out of him in hopes that he pays off.
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