Monday, January 06, 2014

It's All About The QB

The notion that Matt McGloin or Terrelle Pryor is going to take us to the promised land is laughable. Stop kidding yourself. I know it's been a while since we've seen an elite player in Oakland. But that's no excuse for kidding ourselves.

We need to find a franchise quarterback, sooner rather than later.

Look at who's left in the NFL Playoffs: Manning, Brady, Brees, Rivers, Kaepernick, Luck, Wilson and Newton. It's not a coincidence.

The pedigrees of Manning, Brady and Brees are unquestioned. It's safe to say that Luck is on his way to becoming the next great thing. Kaepernick is taking his team deep for the second straight year. Russell Wilson is going to be around for a long time. You could say that Rivers and Newton aren't elite, although Newton is knocking at the door. 

This bears repeating from an earlier take, quoting a piece in CBS Sports: The Indianapolis Colts raised the bar on rebuilding by going from a 2-14 record in 2011 to the playoffs in 2012 after a roster purge similar to Oakland's. Indianapolis had a league-high $38.79 million of dead money last season (2012). The biggest difference in the two situations is the Colts were able to draft a franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck, in 2012 with the first overall pick while one wasn't available for the Raiders in this year's draft.

Luck is making hay with T.Y. Hilton, DHB (!), LaVon Brazill and Da'Rick Rogers. The Colts are still rebuilding, and they're in the playoffs for the second straight year. Luck is an extreme example, as he's a once-a-decade kind of a prospect, but he demonstrates the palliative power of the QB position in today's NFL.

In other words, the sooner we find an elite QB, the sooner we become a perennial contender. Period. 

Now, that's the rub, isn't it? Elite QB's aren't exactly falling out of trees.

The 2014 is said to be a QB-rich draft, but only one or or maybe two of them will pan out as franchise quarterbacks.

So what's Reggie to do? Focus on the right prospect, and go all out in drafting him, even if that means trading up.

But what if he gets it wrong? Well, here's my answer: don't. 

I'm sick of all of the excuses as to why the Raiders never seem to veer into the elite. You can talk about thin free agency classes, how the draft is a crapshoot, etc. 

That may be true. But if you take that thinking to the Nth degree, then what you are saying is that the NFL is just a roulette wheel, and we might as well let chimpanzees sit in the executive chair.

That is not true. Yes, everyone misses. But some GMs and teams routinely miss less than others, and find a way to draft and sign free agents more effectively than others. Those are the teams that perennially contend. It's not luck (unless you're talking about Indy, in which case it is Luck).

The entire NFL missed on Wilson and Kaepernick through round one of their drafts. But you know who didn't? The Niners and Seahawks, who are both in the playoffs again. Did they get lucky? Maybe. But they also got "lucky" picking effective head case Aldon Smith over retired head case Rolando McLain, and picking sure-handed Crabtree over stone-fingered DHB, and drafting Richard Sherman instead of Chimdi Chekwa, and finding a way to trade for Anquan Boldin, Marshawn Lynch, etc.

It's not about being right all of the time. It's about being right more often than most.

The time has come for the Raiders to aspire to, and attain, that type of excellence. There's money in the bank, and we're now in three year of the rebuilding (or year one of the "reconstruction," if that's how you choose to look at it, hah!). 

Is it unfair to say that Reggie and the Raiders need to hit it out of the park in the 2014 draft and free agency market? At this point, I don't care if it is unfair, because it's high time. 

Perennial contenders do it, and now the Raiders need to do it. Starting with the quarterback position.