What’s up RaiderNation? Welcome to this week’s edition of My Two Cents, with your favorite ancient Raider fan, Old Timer. This week’s column is sort of a follow up to last week’s. More specifically, it is a response to some questions that were posted by one of our readers in a comment that was made. As you all know, we here at silverandblackdaily.com welcome and encourage your comments and or emails so keep them coming!! A comment from Steve earlier this week asked 6 very good and very valid questions. I will list those questions one at a time, and then give an answer to the question. Please keep in mind that the answers are only my opinions, and opinions are like, well, you know the old saying!! So with that in mind, lets get started here.
Q. Do you think we have sufficient talent at wide receiver to be able to compete in every game? Do you think we could benefit from a veteran wide out such as Plaxico Burress? We have seemed to be able to get to the red zone but not score touch downs.
A. Though very young, I think the Raiders are extremely talented at the WR position. That being said, with Jacoby Ford out for the year, our only proven talent is Moore and DHB. Although Criner and Streater have shown flashes in OTA’s and pre-season, they have yet to prove they have the talent where it counts, in the NFL regular season games. I do think the addition of Hagan was important as he provides a veteran presence that can consistently make plays. While many have asked the question, why not bring in T.O., Chad Johnson or Plaxico Buress, I really don’t think any of these three are a fit. Of the three, Plaxico would be my choice, but I really think you have to ask yourself this; why isn’t he on a team already? There are plenty of WR hungry teams out there. Just look at the Jets, Dolphins or Seahawks (who did bring in T.O. only to cut him later). These are all teams that have less talent at WR than we do, but they are not signing him. I am afraid that the answer is he just doesn’t have enough left in the tank. And while he offers a big target in the red zone (6’5″ 226 lbs.), an area where we need to be scoring more touchdowns and less field goals, we do have 2 big sure handed TE’s in Brandon Myers (6’3″ 256 lbs), and David Ausberry (6’4′ 258 lbs). Bottom line on this question, the talent is there, whether or not that purveys to points on the board remains to be seen.
Q. What expectations do you have for our DB’s? Do you think we have the weakest secondary in the league? (I do) Do you think when Spencer comes back that our defense will turn it around? Should we have kept DVD and Chekwa?
A. Let’s face it, our DB’s haven’t exactly struck fear in the hearts of opposing QB’s since Nnamdi left. And understandably so. With Nnamdi gone, our best CB was Stanford Routt, who is now playing for the Chiefs. Michael Huff has never lived up to being taken number 7 over-all, and the only true star in our backfield was Tyvon Branch. But look at the rest of the league. More and more teams are turning to the “DB by committee” approach in which very few of the DB’s are star players, rather a collection of fast, hard hitting players that fly to the ball and make plays. This has become increasingly popular with the advent of the Tampa 2, cover 2, and some of the newer coverage schemes. As it stands right now with both Bartel and Spencer out, we definitely have one of the weakest bacfields in the league. But I think Bartel has the ability to be one of the best corners in the league once he is healthy and has his football legs again. While he was healthy at the beginning of the year, it had been a long time since he had tried to cover a receiver in a real game situation. He is going to need a few games once he gets back before he will be anywhere near his potential. This is a guy Larry Fitzgerald called one of the best corners he had ever faced, and I think Bartel can be that good. Spencer on the other hand, is nothing more than a stop-gap, until someone better steps in. Maybe that somebody is Chekwa (yes, he is still with the Raiders on the practice squad), or maybe someone else. With Huff back at Safety eventually, are safeties will be looking pretty good with Giordano and hard hitting Mike Mitchell backing them up. But the thing tha is really going to make this unit better is at the opposite end of the formation. Dennis Allen and Jason Tarver have said it time and time again. Pass coverage and pass rush go hand in hand. Doing well at one makes it that much easier to do well at the other. We have not done well at pressuring the QB, and when that changes, our pass coverage will not be near the liability it currently is. I purposely left discussing DVD out of the answer until the end. There is no doubt that DVD had great speed and some good skills. But he concentrated so much on mirroring the receiver, he was never able to make a play on the ball. All the receiver had to do was wait until the last second to put his hands out for the ball and DVD had no chance to make a play even though he was in position to do so. The big problem with DVD was being a repeat offender, which is the one thing that Dennis Allen won’t stand for. If you can learn from your mistakes and make them less often, then that is what they are looking for, but if you continue to make the same mistake again and again, then how are you going to change that player. That is what happened with DVD. Maybe he will snap out of it in Pittsburgh, maybe he will be a core special teamer all of his career. But for the Raiders, he is currently serving as a message sent to the players.
Q. Is Carson Palmer the future of the Raiders? He’s 32 years old and probably could play another 3-4 years but is he our best option at quarter back?
A. Carson Palmer is a lot better QB than many give him credit for being, but Carson Palmer is only the immediate future of the Raiders. There are many who are down on him because of what we gave up to get him. That isn’t his fault, and it shouldn’t be held against him. All he has done since he has been here is work hard, and provide veteran leadership both on and off the field. I have no complaints with Palmer whatsoever, and feel he will continue to get better as the year progresses. Did we pay too much for him? Probably yes, but if he takes us to the Superbowl in the next couple of years, would you still say yes? Maybe so, maybe not. But when it all comes down to it, what’s done is done, and whether or not it was too much cannot change the fact that the price has been paid (or is being paid) and nothing can change that. You just can’t dwell on the things you cannot change, but rather must concentrate on the things you can change. But this question is only partially answered. As I said, Palmer is only the immediate future of the Raiders, and it is very important that we consider his eventual replacement. Will that be Terrelle Pryor? It is too soon to know for sure, but the Raiders must be diligent in finding out if he is the future, because if he is not, then they need to concentrate on finding his eventual replacment, and get him groomed for the job. For the time being however, Carson Palmer gives us the best chance of winning, and making it back to the play-offs.
Q. Do you think if this running game doesn’t get going over the next 2 weeks that Allen will have the balls to tell Knapp that ZBS is not working and that we have to go back to power?
A. First of all, you have to understand Dennis Allen’s view of ZBS. According to Allen, the ZBS is the hardest blocking scheme to defend against, and he wanted his offense to be based on ZBS because of this. It was this choice (amongst others) that led him to choose Knapp. So it was not a case of Knapp convincing Allen that ZBS was the way to go, it was a case of Allen wanting ZBS and choosing Knapp to coordinate that offense. Before I go any further here, let me go on record here as saying that I believe we should not have changed blocking schemes. The Raiders’ running game was not broke, and I am one of those old school guys who believe strongly in the old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. That being said, Dennis Allen has to be allowed to build the team he wants to build in order to be able to see what kind of head coach he will be. And he is going to make mistakes as a first time head coach, but what we must judge him by is the same thing he judges his players by. Does he learn from his mistakes, or continue to make the same ones. Please understand I am not saying that we should just give up this season and write it off as a “learning experience”, or a “rebuilding year” for that matter. But at the same time, we have to keep in mind that they are building a team for the future, not just trying to patch things up and get to the playoffs. That is not to say that they are not trying to get to the playoffs, rather that they are not going to put a band-aid on the problems that will just keep requiring more band-aids. Patience is the word you will continually hear from Dennis Allen, and patience is what we need to have. I completely understand that the RaiderNation has had to be patient for a long time, but we are just going to have to be more patient while the team goes through its “growth pains” so to speak. As I mentioned last week, although we didn’t have as many yards rushing against Denver, we simply didn’t run as often, and didn’t break any long ones. But the carries were becoming less and less 1 to 3 yard runs, and more 3 to 5 yard runs. If we can consistently gain 3 to 5 yards per carry, then we are going to move the chains and keep us out of the 3rd and long. So, do I think Allen will tell Knapp we need to can the ZBS? The answer is absolutely not. Allen has been on record that they are not going to throw everything they have done out the door and start over. I do think they may mix in a little power blocking so that we aren’t quite as one dimensional when it comes to the running game. Allen has said this week that they have made some tweaks, and I think you will find that this week we will have some definite improvement in the running game.
Q. Do you think Richard Seymour still has what it takes? Or is he just to old and we have to much invested in him to bench him?
A. Richard Seymour has definitely lost a step, but when healthy and rested, is still one of the premier defensive lineman in football. The problem is keeping him rested and healthy. To further complicate things, the Raider defense has struggled to get off the field on 3rd down, meaning the defense is on the field longer and not given a chance to keep fresh legs. We definitely have a lot invested in Seymour, but he offers more than just a defender who is very good at both stopping the run, and rushing the passer. He offers veteran presence and leadership, as well as playoff and Superbowl experience. This is not something that can just be measured by on the field stats. Also, you must take into consideration what he adds to the development of the younger players. I think Seymour still has more under his belt, but I also think that his role as an every down defender is going to be scaled back as the younger players continue to develop.
Q. I may have jumped the gun last year when I bought a Rolando McClain jersey. It still has the tags on it cause i have yet to find anything good in him that would warrant me to wear it, except for that hit on Witten in preseason. Do you think he will improve or is he a waste of time.?
A. Man, “jumped” and “gun” are not words RaiderNation likes to hear associated with Rolando McClain!! LOL Sorry, I just couldn’t resist that one. But all joking aside, McClain has definitely not lived up to be a number 8 overall pick, or all of the hype about him coming out of college. But there has been improvement, and it appears that Dennis Allen sees enough potential in him that he doesn’t seem to be willing to turn the page on him yet. I think there is still hope that McClain will become a solid MLB in the league. So I would say, hold on to the jersey, it may not be too much longer before he makes you proud to wear it.
Well, that’s it for this week my Raider brothers and sisters. Make sure to check back next week for another edition of My Two Cents. Keep the faith!! Peace out RaiderNation!!
Questions? Comments? Email me at OldTimer@silverandblackdaily.com