Friday, March 21, 2014

A Case of Deja Vu

The last time the Raiders were relevant, they rose to prominence with an unproven head coach, a journeyman quarterback, and a mix of young homegrown talent and older veterans acquired through free agency.

It kind of sounds like the 2014 Raiders, doesn't it?

The problem is, that it also sounds like the Raiders of 2003 - 2011.

During that period, the Raiders fielded no shortage of unproven head coaches, journeymen quarterbacks, high draft picks and veteran free agents. 

Such is the difference between Jon Gruden and Lane Kiffin or Tom Cable; between Rich Gannon and Aaron Brooks or Jason Campbell; the likes of homegrown legends like Tim Brown and Charles Woodson vs. Darrius Heyward-Bey and Michael Huff; motivated acquired veterans like Bill Romanowski, Rod Woodson and Jerry Rice vs. non-factors like Warren Sapp, Richard Seymour, DeAngelo Hall and Randy Moss.

There's no doubt that Reggie McKenzie has cleaned up some of the craziness that plagued the Raiders prior to his arrival, which included some of the most awful free agent signings in memory, and an apolcalyptic four-year stretch of first round draft picks that looks like this: JaMarcus Russell, Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Rolando McLain. 

That said, and it's something I haven't heard anyone else talk about, it's almost eerie to me how much the "new" Raiders resemble the old Raiders. 

Now you can debate whether or not the new Raiders are closer in potential/upside to the 2000-2002 model or the 2003--2011 model.  

But when you get right down to the hiring of an unproven first-time head coach in Dennis Allen, the turnstile of journeymen quarterbacks, the focus in free agency on older vets who may or may not have much left in the tank, all layered upon a core of young draft picks (and right down to the questionable first-round cornerback pick of last year, which was remeniscient of Mr. Davis), well, it sort of looks like deja vu all over again.

Hopefully this time it will help us recapture the glory days instead of spinning our wheels.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It's Hot Stove Time

So word on the street is that Rodger Safford failed his physical, so the deal is off, and a hole has re-opened on our offensive line.

Yes, it's early. Yes, free agency is a marathon, not a sprint. But it never hurts to start strong.

Here's where my patience is being tested...

From the perspective of the GM position, wouldn't slashing the payroll, getting the financial house in order and notching two 4-12 seasons in the process be relatively easy?

What wouldn't be easy is being shrewd in coaching hires, in the draft, and in free agency along the way to keep the ball moving forward for a quicker turnaround. And I don't see evidence that we've done much of that over the past two years.

If I tell you to cut your grocery bill by 40 percent, it's painful, but not hard to do. You just spend less. 

But cooking a great meal on that smaller budget? Now that's where the chef shines or fails.

Chef Reggie needs to get cooking, even though he just lost another ingredient.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Destination Unknown

Please tell me that there's a master plan in place, and that it's just beginning to unfold...

Six weeks ago, if you told me that we'd re-sign Darren McFadden and lose Rashad Jennings, Jared Veldheer and Lamar Houston on the first day of free agency, well, I don't know what I would have said.

And now that it has happened, I still don't know what to say. 

It seems like you would begin rebuilding by first retaining the best building blocks at hand.

I'm not saying that Jennings, Veldheer and Houston are elite, but they were pretty darned good, especially by the standards of the Oakland roster.

Building is the act of adding, not replacing, is it not? 

Now we need to act swiftly and decisively on two fronts: replacing and adding. 

It seems like a tall order for a Raiders team that already on such an uphill climb.

We've supposedly taken care of Veldheer's absence by the signing of Rodger Saffold. Can he protect the blind side? We'll see. 

McFadden underperforms and stays, and Jennings outperforms and goes? 'K. 

So back to that master plan. There has to be one, right? So this is no time to panic.

That said, if you're getting nervous, it's understandable. The stakes are high, and the offseason game is on. Let's see how the Raiders play it out.

MASTER PLAN UPDATE: Raiders sign offensive lineman Austin Howard!