Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Realist's Draft Scenario

By Raiderrealist:

Now that the coin flip is over and we know our draft position, it’s time to go over likely scenarios for the upcoming draft.

Imagine, if you will, that you are Lane Kiffin/Al Davis/The-Man-Behind-the-Silver & Black Curtain who decides whom the Raiders will pick on draft day. Decide what the team needs and prioritize them. Add Darren McFadden to the offensive punch or shore up the porous defense with Chris Long/Glenn Dorsey/Sedrick Ellis? Keep the 4th pick or try to trade down for more picks? Keep in mind that some of our needs can be met through free agency.

As for the likely draft day scenario, this is what I see happening:

  1. MIA: Chris Long/Glenn Dorsey
  2. STL: Chris Long/Glenn Dorsey/Jake Long
  3. ATL: Matt Ryan/Darren McFadden

Unfortunately I just don't see Chris Long falling to us at Number Four come draft day. This leaves the Raiders with a choice of the best of what's left of Sedrick Ellis/Glenn Dorsey/Darren McFadden/Jake Long. Or, we could try and trade down. You make the call.

As for me, I'm looking at this preliminary list:

RD1. DT Sedrick Ellis

RD2. LT Sam Baker

RD4. C Jamey Richard

RD6. SS Caleb Campbell

RD7. Best of what's left.

Why Ellis over LT Jake Long? Tom Cable's zone blocking scheme. He was able to take virtually the same players from the 2006 "saloon-door" offensive line and have them give up far fewer sacks and open up holes that helped Justin Fargas gain more than 1,000 yards rushing while only starting in seven games.

The defense, however, was just the opposite in making nearly every running back that faced them look like the second coming of Jim Brown. Hence my pick.

As for wide receiver, I'd look at bringing in either Bernard Berrian or Bryant Johnson through free agency.

Note: Thanks to Raiderrealist for sharing this take. This is the second in what promises to be a series of “guest takes,” with the intent of celebrating the different voices and perspectives of the Raider Nation. Stay tuned for PantyRaider's trade take.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Time to Cut Ties with Kiffin?

By NY Raider:

It really hurts me to say this, but in light of recent reports that Lane Kiffin has been absentee from the Combine (or a ghost at best), and considering the blitzkrieg of negative media since the season ended, it may be best for the Raiders and Kiffin to part ways.

At the very least, the Raiders have a real problem with public relations, and have allowed negative perception to overwhelm their offseason. As you might guess, I am a firm believer in the old axiom that "perception is reality."

Of course, just because the media write something doesn’t mean I will perceive it to be true. In this case, I have spent the offseason thus far scouring media reports and listening to, and reading, fan (the consumer) reactions, as well as introspecting my own 30+ years experience as a diehard Raiders fan, and gauging my perception accordingly.

At this juncture, from a public relations standpoint, I must believe that the Raiders want people to perceive they are in turmoil. If so, then job well done. Yet, I can’t believe that this would benefit them in any way, particularly now with free agency and the 2008 NFL Draft quickly approaching.

Is Lane Kiffin so mad at the media or Al Davis that he can’t participate with his assistant coaches on the field during Combine workouts, or even walk through public areas of the facility?

While I was willing to believe the optimists after the Senior Bowl who claimed Kiffin didn’t wear Raiders’ gear because of sponsorship obligations, I refuse to believe that it has carried over to the Combine. Why isn’t he showing his colors?

There’s no valid reason to allow this charade to continue. We need a head coach who bleeds Silver and Black, and who believes that to wear any other colors would be like not dressing at all. We need a coach who is on board and available immediately to help make critical decisions for 2008 and beyond.

It’s quite possible that Lane Kiffin is a victim of misrepresented job authority, or that he has simply overstepped the boundaries of his job description.

As Jerry McDonald put it, “Kiffin is viewed as being stuck in an organization where Davis is essentially the owner, the general manager, the personnel director, the scouting department and the defacto defensive coordinator—all at age 78.”

I grew up admiring Mr. Davis. He is, in large part, the reason I became a Raiders fan. Far be it for me or anyone else to tell Mr. Davis that he can’t perform all those critical functions himself.

Many of us admired Kiffin for calling out the “whole building” after the final game in 2007, and we saw his ambition and believed him capable of returning the Raiders to greatness.

Unfortunately, his ambition wasn’t the greatness of the Raiders’ past, but the greatness that could be the Raiders’ future. That was his undoing.

Note: Thanks to NY Raider for sharing this take. This is the first in what promises to be a series of “guest takes,” with the intent of celebrating the different voices and perspectives of the Raider Nation.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chuck and Stuff

Lane Kiffin isn’t fired.

James Lofton is hired.

Lane loves Rob, Al loves Lane, and Amy loves everyone.

Jarrod Cooper has a big heart for dogs.

Tyler Brayton is officially a free agent—calming my worries that we might franchise him.

Justin Fargas has signed.

Nnamdi’s getting tagged.

Former Raiders quarterback Josh Booty got Tasered.

Have I missed anything?

Oh, yeah: PantyRaider is back. And if you don’t know what that means, then you need to come around here more often.

It’s been relatively slow going on Raiders news recently, and perhaps no big news is good news, because the last time we had “big news,” it was of dubious detail, and only served to deliver an alarming spike in our collective blood pressure.

Meanwhile, over in Miami: “In the Dolphins’ first major player purge since Parcells took charge of Miami’s football operations, the team parted ways with Trent Green, wide receiver Marty Booker, defensive tackle Keith Traylor, right tackle L.J. Shelton and five other players—ushering in the start of what's expected to be a massive offseason roster shakeup by the rebuilding franchise.”

Say what you will about the Dolphins, but they’re sending their fans pretty strong signals of change, top to bottom. None of this “everyone gets a fresh start.” None of this “wait and see.” They aren’t remodeling. They’re razing the house and rebuilding an entirely new culture, from the executive offices through the locker room.

It’s a little late for that in Oakland. The time for that would have been last year, when Shell was shown the door and the stage was set for a massive overhaul.

I don’t point this out to be pessimistic, but rather just to be realistic, and to heckle those who say that swift, decisive and wholesale change can’t be telegraphed immediately following the end of a dreadful season.

Thankfully, we are undergoing our own form of overhaul under Lane Kiffin. Slowly but surely, the tide is being turned, the scholarships are being terminated, and aromas of mint are in the air.

Stopping the run and catching the ball are, in my opinion, our top concerns at the moment. Here we have our cannon loaded with Jamarcus Russell, but no one deep to catch the cannonball.

As for stopping the run, the defensive line is only part of the problem, which goes as deep as the safety position, if not deeper. On Sirius radio the other day, Daryl Johnston was talking about watching the tape from the Raiders-Vikings game last year, and remarking about our defense’s dreadful fundamentals and tackling. He wasn’t saying it in the manner of someone who had an axe to grind, but more like someone who’d happened upon a train wreck and had to tell some friends about it. I remember that game, and he’s right. Rob Ryan, you may not have a roster of Pro Bowlers at your disposal, but it’s your responsibility to ensure that basic fundamentals are respected and applied.

It comes down to “chuck and stuff.” Chuck the ball, stuff the run. These aren’t the sum total of our needs, but they are at the top of my list. At some point you have to triage and prioritize. We can't count on the draft or free agency. We need to work these needs hard through the draft and free agency. We need to be active, aggressive and focused, and I think we will be. Here we go again, because the future is now.