Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Waiting Game

While we’re all gathering like anxious children on Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa Claus to deliver us from Kerry Collins, we might as well think optimistically. Which means that the KFC era is over, right? So now what?

There are many in the Raider Nation who say that Andrew Walter should be given the reins. I say that he should be given the opportunity to take the reins, but that we also need some form of proven commodity as insurance. Walter hasn’t taken a snap in a regular season game, and has been prone to injuries over the past two years. It’s unlikely, and probably unwise, for the 2006 Oakland Raiders to put all of their eggs in the Walter basket.

The Norv Turner era put us in a bind. Things got so bad that patience, never a Raiders virtue (which is a virtue unto itself, in my opinion), is out of the question. We desperately need to win games, especially against division rivals. I doubt that Al Davis and Art Shell are going to build this team around a QB whose NFL experience is limited to a few exhibition snaps.

So here are the options as I see them:

1. Get a proven (and expensive) veteran, hand him the reins and build your team around him, thinking in terms of three or more years.

2. Bet that Walter can rise to the occasion, but get an older and relatively inexpensive veteran as a backup plan.

3. Get a younger and relatively inexpensive veteran to duke it out with Walter, and may the best man win and the other hold the clipboard.

4. Work some draft magic and get Young, Leinart or Cutler.

Personally, I like options #2 and #3. As far as option #1 is concerned, the pickings are slim this year. Culpepper and Brees are coming off of big injuries. As far as #4 is concerned, like I said: I doubt that Al Davis and Art Shell are going to build this team around an NFL-untested QB, because Norv Turner exterminated whatever patience that Raiders might have had for such a plan.

Jon Kitna still comes to mind as a possibility for option #2 (please, not Gus Frerotte!). Josh McCown might be a great choice for option #3 (others have suggested Patrick Ramsey). I still like McCown. He posted a nearly .500 record with the Arizona Cardinals. Without him, their record was something like .100. He’s big, and he’s proven to be durable.

Someone like McCown wouldn’t break the bank. He could possibly turn into long-term starting QB. At the very least, he would be competent insurance should Walter not quite rise to the occasion for 2006. Ideally, he would hold the clipboard as Walter turns into the next Ben Roethlisberger.

Every time I bring up "the next Raiders QB" subject, I get a lot of hate mail about how stupid my suggestions are. That's fine. But don't just drop bombs and run . Step up with your own suggestions and post them in the comments for all to see (I'm referring to the minority here, as most of you are already very good about having a take and backing it up). Ground rule: proposing QBs who are not free agents nor being shopped by their teams is a delusion, not a suggestion.

If we put our heads together, I'm sure we can figure out plan. Coach Shell is counting on us, right?

P.S. I haven’t forgotten about Tui. I just don’t think he’s going to factor into the plan. I don’t think his style is going to fit the 2006 offense. He probably deserves a shot elsewhere. He’s a class act.


Blogger Raider Take said...

Wow, it's awfully quiet out there today. I'm out on a limb and no one wants to saw it off? Perhaps I was a little rude. If someone just wants to throw bombs, please go ahead. It'll break the silence.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

I don't know about anyone else, but this is just one of those topics that I've pretty much exhausted myself on.

I still think that once KFC tests the FA market, finds out no one wants him as a starter after seeing his last two years in Oakland, he's going to come back here at a discount rate. It's not what I WANT to see, but Raider Football usually dictates a strong armed veteran taking the snaps. Looking at the FA market, there's not many people out there that fit that bill (not that they have the room under the cap to sign them if they wanted). Besides, you've got a lot of vocal veterans on the team who would NOT want to be led by an unproven Walter or Tui.

Now that Shell's back as coach and HOFer Jackie Slater's been hired to coach the line, I think Al's putting a priority on fixing the OL and protecting the QB. I think he still thinks he can win with Collins.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nabbing Drew Brees is just the swift kick in the groin Al Davis owes Marty and the Dischargers as payback.

Marty is publicly feuding with SD GM AJ Smith, who favors his own draft pick, Phillip Rivers, as the starter.

Smith is using Brees' injury (torn labrum, same as Gannon, plus perhaps some rotator cuff damage) as the reason for back stabbing Marty, who loooves Brees.

I say let's hold a bake sale and get Al the cap room he needs to twist the knife. Brees has consistently lit up the Raiders, so you know Al has noticed...

2:51 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Thanks, guys, I was getting scared, worried that perhaps everyone had locked themselves in their closets, telling their families not to disturb them until this KFC business was official.

Doobie, I hear you, I'm exhausted too. Heck, I'm writing about Kitna and McCown again. That's a sure sign of desperation. Then again, these are desperate times. As your take ably points out.

Stick'Em, I like the bake sale idea. Jim Otto's Coffee Cake would be a hot seller, and your buddy Philip Buchanon could return to serve his Humble Pie.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

RT, here's my concern with Kitna, McCown and other FA QBs. No one is really much of an upgrade over KFC, arm-wise (and we all know how much that means to Al). As always, Al wants to win now. If we bring in an outside QB, it's going to take some time for them to learn the system. (Yes, I know it's a new system, but since Al has his fingerprints everywhere, do we expect it to be much different than the old one?) On top of that, given Andrew Walter's injuries and lack of snaps, I'm not sure HE'S familiar with the system either. And while Tui's gotta be somewhat familiar with the system, he's not Al's type of QB.

All that being said, once he weighs his options I think Al's going to hand the reigns back over to KFC and hope that the OL can keep him upright long enough to complete a decent pass.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont see why everyones so down on TUI.
He should get a shot.
He shouldn't be judged from one bad game.

KFC stunk for 15 games and he still gets consideration. :(

6:11 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

I prefer options 1,2,3,and 4 over the status quo. The status quo of KFC under center is unacceptable. It is the equivalent of waving the white flag. I am convinced that you could stick any QB's mentioned as replacements and the team would improve.

Option 1: Risky and high priced proven veteran.

I have no problem with trading for Culpepper even if that means giving up a draft choice (ie. 2nd rounder). All the recent reports are that he will be ready for 2006 and that he has been obsessively rehabbing to prove everyone wrong about his performance in 2005. I like a QB with a chip on his shoulder. Worst case scenario is that he isn't ready by September and Walter gets some experience under fire. I can live with that because a healthy Culpepper with our offensive skill players would be worth the risk. Same goes for Brees. He is on schedule to be able to throw by mini-camp. The sticker price might be high but I'm sure Lombardi & Davis can find a way to work their cap magic. Brees has all of the intangibles, is a leader and winner.

Option 2: Proven (somewhat inexpensive) veterans;

Kitna, Brooks, and Griese;

Kitna has an impressive 2003 season as the starter. (62.6% comp, 3,591 yds, 26-15 td/int ratio, 87.4 QB rating). Brooks has all the phyical tools and could use a change of scenery. Griese is a fiesty, tough leader who is able to manage the game.

Option 3: Young & fairly inexpensive 3-6 year veteran.

McCown, Volek, and Ramsey;

McCown is an intriguing prospect who could be on the upswing of his career. Volek is a steady performer and accurate passer. Ramsey could battle it out with Walter for the starting spot.

Option 4: Draft a QB;

If Al is bold enough to go against his natural insticts and take a QB in the draft, I can live with the consequences. With Leinart, Young, or Cutler under center I'm sure we can win a minimum of 4-5 games which is no worse than KFC the last 2 years. Although I view this option as the least desirable and likely, it would still make me feel a whole lot better than the status quo.

If I had to boil each option down by preference and QB, this is my order.

Option 1: Go for all the marbles and try to work a trade for Culpepper. The potential upside of Culpepper in silver and black is worth putting on your chips in.

Option 3: Sign McCown; The few times I saw him last year (ie. vs. SF in Mexico City) I liked his energy, spark, and moxie.

Option 2: Sign Kitna; Kitna would give a legitimate chance to win every Sunday.

Option 4: Draft Cutler; Cutler might fall into our lap without having to move up in the draft order. If Al commits to Cutler I would be suprised but supportive.

Some of these options are obviosly more appealing than others. Some are more expensive than others. Some are more unlikely than others. However, ALL of these options would still be better than having Kerry "The Tin Man" Collins under center. Change at the QB position is absolutely vital to breath life into the team and into the Raider Nation.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do NOT get Ramsey..I've seen him in Washington for too many years and he does not see the entire field.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Great analysis, Calico Jack!

Anon, I don't know much about Ramsey, so I'll take your word for it.

Good point, Peter Fleming. It's an interesting thought, yet it's hard for me to imagine Favre coming to Oakland. I could be totally wrong, it's just his persona. I can't see him in California. I think he'll want to be closer to "home," both geographically and socially, at this stage of his career. Not that I really know.

At the very least, can we import some of Favre's body language? My problem with Collins isn't just the cold hard facts of wins & losses (although that's the biggest factor), it's his presence (or lack thereof). The Dolphins game last year was the worst. If it was possible for a QBs body language to suck the air out of a stadium, that was it. Trudging slowly up to the line in the face of another defeat, like a kid being forced to do homework. Throwing the ball errantly and halfheartedly (as I saw it). Just looking disengaged in the midst of another embarrassing loss. Maybe I'm reading the guy wrong? Maybe there's a real fire burning in there. But if so, why should it be so hard to detect? Frankly, I'm tired of it.

7:23 AM  
Blogger TheFreakingPope said...

This whole mess reminds me of that girlfriend you need to get rid of, but can't. Yes, you broke up. She moved her stuff out. You told all your friends. And yet, the next morning, you refuse to open your eyes because she's likely lying next to you!

We all know that KFC needs to go. Now, I don't want to put a damper on things here, but, just as a drill, what if he stays? How do we, as the Raider Nation, support this guy?

Personally, I have no idea. That's why I'm asking. Every time he was hit hard I prayed he'd stay down. (Maybe I should go to confession for that.) Anyway, I thought I'd throw it out there. It's a tough exercise, but one to consider.

Regarding the possibility that we get a new guy under center, I want to say Tui, but I just don't think it will happen. I agree with RT. I think Tui should be given the oppurtunity to go somewhere else and be great. Don't get me wrong, I love the guy. Hell, my brother's dog is named after him. I just don't think he's the right guy for the job.

Walter definitely deserves a shot. Just think back to that moment in the pre-season when he rolled out, slipped a tackle and threw across his body for a touchdown in the red zone. -Pause for effect- I knew that the feeling of overwhelming joy might fade in the coming weeks, so I saved that game on my Tivo for months.

Now, what happens if he can't handle the pressure. What if he's injured? The one thing we don't want is a mid-season free agent taking the helm. I'm going to have to endorse RT's Josh McCown. He has potential for success when the others on the list only worry me. Maddox is an excellent example of what I think would hurt us. If, in the 2005 season, you could actually slow down the Steelers running game, you may be the guy for us. That's the last thing we need!

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good comments on QBs. My preference is to give Walter a shot, but also bring in a player to compete. My number one choice is Ramsey, two is McNown but that order could change based on contract demands. If Josh was a lot cheaper, I would go that way. If Brees could be had for the right deal, I would look, but I think he will be way expensive. Avoid Kitna and Daunte as they are on the wrong side of their career.

I pray they do not draft Young or Cutler. We need Williams, Hawk, or Huff in the draft. I would even prefer Vernon Davis over a QB.

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The QB question has been asked and "answered" by Al Davis, like Derrick Gibson, James Jett and Jeff George. Al h as fallen head over heals for The "XTRA Crispy" KFC. It is just another reason to take an antacid in this post season nightmare. I have looked from every angle, and like RT said, like a child wondering what will be under the tree, I feel a lump of coal wrapped in a #5 jersey. Well let's all move on.............Knowing Collins will be with us next season is a "sure thing". As much as I hate to ever say this ..........perhaps only with a season ending injury, Collins will be gone. Until then, lets just look at the defense and see if we can bring the Nasty back to the Raider "D"! This might be the time that Rob Ryan can sneek in a few good free agent and draft picks that will turn the team on the Defensive side of the ball......Hey it was fun to cheer our Defense last season and I would love to have something to be looking forward to and it looks like it's Ryan's Defense that will bring cheers in the Black Hole this season. As always thanks for the positive RT.........You know I need to hear it!

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:20 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Well, I'm not a big fan of crying in press conferences, but I'd rather have a guy who cares enough to cry rather than sitting there slack-jawed like a deer in the headlights, like you know who.

As far as Denny Green and the Cardinals are concerned, their decisions have no credibility. McCown is the only QB who's won games for them over the past three years. So what do they do? They keep benching him. That's why they're the Cardinals, and why their supernaturally awful tradition of losing shows no sign of abating.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have to say that I like option 2 the best. I want to get a proven vet QB and start winning now, showing improvement and showing that we can contend in 2-3 years (anyone who says we can't, we definitely have the talent to do it). Option 4 does intrigue me, but I also agree with that. Mr. Norvell Turner's tenure provided us with back to back losing seasons, and a one-win record against the AFC West (in 12 tries, mind you). Going with someone unproven and "throwing away" another season with a bust is just too much of a risk and I think I speak for most of the Nation when I say a fourth consecutive losing season would just completely break us all. That all said, I want to hand over, whether it be next year or in follwing years, the reigns to Walter. I think he has talent and I personally would feel that if he didn't eventually start the pick we made for him would seem almost wasted. JMO

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't believe the hype. Culpepper won't be ready to play by starting day. Nobody tears their anterior cruciate, medial collateral, and posterior cruciate ligaments and returns in less than a full season.

It's going to take some Forrest Gump leg braces, a case of Gorilla Glue, and two handfulls of alligator clips just to allow Daunte to walk in a straight line, much less take a snap with NFL linemen bearing down on him. We'd be better off with Brad Johnson, IMO.

Wouldn't it be fun to see Vince Young run around in silver'n'black? At least we know the guy's a playmaker. On the other hand, KFC can't get out of the way of a three-toed tree sloth on Demerol bum "rushing" 'em.

Young obviously would be a cr@pshoot of gigantemously monumental proportions; flip a coin and heads, Vince will turn out to be Vince Evans...or tails, Young will turn out to be Steve Young.

Personally, I'd rather have Hawk, Williams, Huff, or Ngata than role the dice on Young.

If we are going to have two inexperienced QBs on the roster (presuming Walter and Tui), then you gotta have a seasoned QB to round things out.

Tears of McClown? Jon religious fanatic Kitna? Volek and Ramesy are under contract for the time being, and I'm not sure if either is worth trading for.

What is the other option? Rick Mirer? The Return of The Living Dead (KFC)?

2:36 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

One more thing, I hope that we don't wind up reaching for a QB like Jay Cutler in the draft just because we need one now. If Young or Leinart somehow fall to us, fine, but anyone else I'm not sold on with the #7 overall pick. I'd rather them go with a #1 option at another position.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Thefreakingpope: If we are stuck with KFC in 2006, I won't be a happy camper but I will support the team nevertheless. I'm with Raider Greg; if we have KFC let's load up our D in the draft and free agency.

In regards to Culpepper, any trade or signing would obviously include a complete physical exam to address any concerns.

Also, here's an interesting point made in a recent article from Adam Schefter (NFL analyst @ NFL.com)

"The big concern to other teams is Culpepper's knee. However, those close to Culpepper believe he is going to be completely recovered from his knee injury and that the quarterback is rehabbing almost freakishly. Culpepper appears obsessed to return to the form he had in 2004, not 2005, and is doing what he can during his workouts to ensure this. He already is doing footwork drills on land"

I would be willing to roll the dice on Culpepper whether he returns to complete health in July, Aug., Sept. or Oct.
For a guy who just turned 29, he has arguably 4-6 good years left in him. If he is able to capture the form of 2003 and 2004, the guy could get us over the top

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

examining what we got, what your take is... there is something missing..... the dreadful and yet possible scenario where the raiders DO drop collins ( like he did footballs when hit in the pocket) only to tender him a more cap friendly contract, bringing him back to the dismay of raider fans everywhere. I personally would rather eat razor blades than have collins under center for another snap but it is a possibility. As much as Cutler or Young intrigue and tantalize... i feel that IF the raiders were ready to hand the reigns over to an unproven young QB it would be Walter... the one already under contract and already counting against the cap. Tui is one of the great raider tragedies... right along with watching Grady jackson walk out of town, leroi glover walk outta town, Rod Coleman walk out of town and Gruden coaching against us in our last superbowl. ( ALL great tragedies.) tui never got a fair shot in Oakland as he was the hand picked future for Gruden and no one else ever believed in him... at least no one who could get him on the field. Tui wont be the starter even though he just might have a ton of magic to work for us. The Most likely situation is for Al to pick up an affordable QB in free agency... cheap... and that means that the BESt possibility of Brees will not be an option due to cost. Brees is a solid Qb and Gannon proved you can recover from the same injury and still toss the ball. But he will want to be paid for it and i think Al has spent the bulk of his QB budget on Collins the last few years. Another reason Brees would be a good pick up is the fact that he will want to get even with the team that cut him loose and we are the only team in the division that needs him. All things considered i think McCown ( however ya spell it) is the best option as a cheap b to compete with and or just push Walter for the QB job.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to see Tui start, and Walter get serious learning time. Why ? Because they are Raiders. These guys were drafted by the Raiders, these are our guys, let's give them a real chance. Sure they are young, and they will make mistakes, but at least there is an upside. I'm tired of getting some outsider from another team who seems to only want to come here for money. When Al Davis found Jim Plunkett 20+ yrs ago, it was like winning the lottery, a once in a lifetime event. Sometimes I think Al keeps trying to find the next Plunkett, when a really good Qb could be right under his nose. Play the guys you drafted, and forget about the outsiders. We may already have a gem on the roster right now.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

With the CBA being extended and the 2006 cap figure at $102M,
by my calculations, the Raiders are currently $7.5M over the cap.

If we release Collins (please show him the door Al) and restructure a few veterans contracts (ie. Sims, Sapp, Hamilton, Gallery) we could put ourselves in a nice position to sign;

a) a veteran QB

b) a back-up RB

c) a DT or DE or SS

d) target a LB (Hawk) or DE (Williams), in the 1st round

e) target a OG (Gilles or Joseph) in the 2nd round

f) another LB for depth (James Anderson, VTech; D'Quell Jackson, Maryland) in the 3nd round.

With an infusion of young, talented draft choices, a few key free agents, and the all important replacement for KFC, I will look forward to a better, more competitive product on the field.

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tui was drafted to play in Gruden's offense behind Gannon. He got creamed stepping into Turner's offense in place of Collins.

I could see Tui getting his best chance to shine if we take Young in the draft and craft an offense for a mobile playmaker at QB.

In college, Tui once threw for 300 yards and ran for 200 yards in one game. He plays with heart doesn't give up on plays or games.

I'd like to see Tui get a chance to play in an offense designed to take advantage of his abilities.

9:51 AM  

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