Friday, February 21, 2014

The Conundrum of Excellence

Nnamdi Asomugha's retirement has been nagging me every since he announced it. Now, as we approach the 2014 draft, I think I know why.

Nnamdi was perhaps our only elite player of the non-kicker variety in 10 years. Or so we thought. 

As soon as he left the Raiders, he faltered, and then completely flamed out, and has now given up the game at a time when he's still five years younger than Charles Woodson. And that's the best player we've produced in 10 years? It's depressing. 

How cruelly ironic that a team whose motto is Commitment to Excellence has been so lacking in it...

Anyhow, onward to the draft discussion...

Look who has the first five draft slots this year: Texans, Rams, Jaguars, Browns and Raiders. 

What do all of these teams have in common? Grease fires at the quarterback position.

The other four teams have more genuinely established playmakers than the Raiders: The Texans have Andre Johnson, the Rams have a great pass rush, the Jaguars have MJD, the Browns have Josh Gordon...But without solid play at quarterback, they all suck.

Now look at the five teams picking last: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, Niners, Panthers. The common thread isn't hard to find there: franchise quarterbacks.

I'm not saying that a great defense and elite skill players are immaterial. Far from it, given what we saw in the playoffs and Super Bowl this year. 

But I am saying that a franchise quarterback is the surest, most efficient tool for executing a turnaround. 

Who's the best receiver out there? Megatron, or Josh Gordon or Dez Bryant. All sitting home for the playoffs. The best running back? Adrian Peterson or LeSean McCoy? The Vikings are flailing, the Eagles were one and done in the playoffs. The Falcons gave up a king's ransom for Julio Jones, and he's damn good. But where has it gotten him? 

We don't have to draft a quarterback in the first round, as long as the best quarterback isn't in the first round. We need to identify and GET the best quarterback, whether that means trading up or sitting back. That has to be priority number one, doesn't it? 

The bottom line is that we need excellence on the Raiders. It's high time. There's a lot of money to spend, and a full draft ahead. We need a franchise quarterback, and some real playmakers. No more excuses. Reggie needs to rock this offseason. Here we go...