Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Narratives of 2014

I don't know how this next season is going to turn out. I don't think anybody does. We might have a better sense after the draft, but even then, we’ll just be guesstimating. Will Reggie’s picks pan out? Will our new free agents mesh? Will Dennis Allen come into his own as a coach? We shall see.

But I do know what the narratives will be if we show tangible improvement…and if we don’t.

If the Raiders show up for real in 2014, the narrative will be that patience pays off, and that Reggie was finally able to mold the roster in accordance with his vision. The many veteran free agent pickups will viewed as savvy moves. The misadventures at the beginning of free agency will be forgotten, and the recent drafts will be viewed in a softer light, if not as a smashing success. The doubts about Dennis Allen will fade, and the Raiders will be viewed as an up-and-coming contender.

If the Raiders bomb in 2014 (which I consider six or less wins), the narrative will be that Reggie forgot that the word "deconstruction" contains the word "construction." The veteran free agency pickups will be viewed dubiously for making the team costlier and older without generating substantive improvement. We'll be wondering just how many drafts and how long it will take for Reggie's Raiders to merely rise above the median of eight wins. Four years? Five? The question might be moot, as Reggie will likely be canned.

So while I can't say what will happen in September, I do know what we'll be saying come December.


Anonymous JONES said...

This year will be by far a finished product. It's setting the stage for a contender that will keep on contending. Keep making those lines in the sand....I sure hope Mark isn't.


4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a pattern forming from Reggie's acquisitions. He seems to be letting the guys go that either have questionable work ethic or do not want to be in Oakland, and bringing in guys, by all accounts, that have strong work ethic and a love of football. That is why I would have been surprised if he signed Jackson as that would have been a departure of philosophy.
I have not been in the Raider locker room and cannot pretend to know what has been going on. It seems to me that Reggie is attempting a culture change starting in the locker room. Will it work? I do not know, the analysts do not know, nobody will know until the games are being played. The good news is that there seems to be a plan. There is no more running with scissors (as Take used to say). Thus far no one is hitting the panic button. There seems to be calmness at Raiderland that is either born from confidence or ignorance. Time will tell.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

Over the past decade of losing, every season ended and began with changes.

Some of those changes were exciting and gave us hope, like when we drafted McQuistan and after his awesome training camp we wrote haiku's about him.

Some of those seasons brought out right despair knowing we were going into the season with a losing record, like when we made Aaron Brooks our QB.

Some of those changes brought mixed feelings, some feeling like we were going to do well, and some like we were going to tank again. Drafting JaMarcus Russell was one of those, and so far, this offseason has brought a balance of how we feel the season is going to go.

I haven't agreed with every move this offseason. Yes, I do wish we would have kept Veldheer, but he moved on. It's business, I get it, and am not bitter. At the same time, I do not think we've downgraded at LT with the signing of Penn. The only disadvantage between the 2 is age, and Penn is a healthy 30 (has not suffered a major injury at this level), while Veldheer is coming off a major injury (torn bicep) at 26; and to me that is the equalizer. A player like this who has never suffered a major injury like Penn, can last in this league another 5 strong years (knock on wood).

Penn has more weight, and is a true power blocker who is quick on his feet. Veldheer was good at both zone and power. Both are stellar players at the tackle position, and for what it is worth, I think we broke even with losing Veldheer and gaining Penn.

With that said, if the Raiders drafted Matthews, it would be a huge upgrade at the Tackle position. Personally, I don't think he will be there. I think the Falcons draft him. I don't think Watkins will be there either, as the Lions may trade with the Rams for Watkins at #2.

All this to say, we don't know how it will play out until they play this season; but all indications are it looks to be like an upgrade. I think a lot of people don't like the signing of Penn because they don't know much about him. Just like I think there are fans who don't like the ages of some of the Free Agents brought in, because we are not privy to who else is going to come to us via the draft.

At the same time, we've seen enough garbage wrapped in a package called "hope" to know that there are still some hefty question marks. Is Dennis Allen the right coach? Is McKenzie really the right GM? How long will Mark give them to turn it around? I think there are more question marks with the coaching staff than there is the lineup at this point. We saw a glimpse of a different team with Hue Jackson as our HC, and have seen it shift back to drudge. I think that is really the complaints beneath the surface. We saw a garbage lineup have energy and fire under him, and we barely got a spark out of the same lineup the next season.

I get that a GM wants to come in and build his own team and make his mark. I'm hoping RM's plan in doing that is coming into fruition. I can see significant changes made from a business stand point. That has me hopeful for the season, despite it being the most difficult schedule in the NFL. This will really test the coaching staff for me. Are they competent to run this team, or do we need more experience? Bottom line, I agree with RT, it's time for the Raiders to


12:49 PM  
Anonymous JONES said...

New/old Anno....

The culture change started the day Reggie took had to start at the TOP.

Only till this offseason/year could Reggie get some sort of stability on the Roster.

The culture in the Locker room will be different which will help the HC do his job.

If players are pulling in different directions = 1 year contracts, not the Oakland they want to be apart of...very hard to get a team on the same page....IMO, the Coaching had the team on the same page for the most part this past season.

Had to stabilize the Front Office 1st, then coaching, then the there is at least a sense of stability and that will help this team moving forward. It's far from done, seems most would agree, that it is heading where it should be.


1:20 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

My opinion about the larger picture is that McKenzie has done well to clean house but, with all the short term contracts (many of which were intentionally staged to be voided after one year), I believe there will be another year (2015) of substantial turnover in the roster. Whether or not McKenzie survives his job long enough to oversee that will depend on what he can do this year.

To that point, I believe Davis should draw a line in the sand. It might not be directed at wins alone, but there needs to be a line. It was an absence of accountability that got us in this mess to begin with.

This is McKenzie’s team. It’s time for him to be judged on that basis. If bringing in vet players like Tuck, Woodley, Penn, et al results in improving the Raiders, then McKenzie should (and will) be applauded. Conversely, if losing Veldheer, trading for Schaub (Flynn before him), and re-signing McFadden prove to be lateral or backwards moves, he should be judged on that basis.

If Davis wants a new stadium deal, the Raiders really need to provide a better product. It starts and ends with accountability.

4:22 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

I think these short term deals may be part of his plan too. If he knows the Raiders have to perform well this year or he's gone; then his plan is to give short term deals so that if he is gone after this season, a new GM will have a fresh plate to pick/choose without weighted contracts.

The contracts he has signed too are all incentive heavy, which is what motivates players to perform better as well. It is a win/win for Reggie and the Raiders.

This is why I respect Reggie. How many GM's in today's league would do the same in similar circumstances comparable to Reggie? None! They would make it miserable for the team to let them go. Reggie is thinking beyond this season and next, and is doing what is right for the Raiders Organization, not his situation. In other words, he's doing his job with the highest integrity.

I wonder too, how many Free Agents he reached out to and made offers to, that said "No Thanks!" We already know that Jared Allen did, and didn't even pay a visit! How many of the top Free Agents did that? Just as much as he should be graded/judged for the product on the field, that is only a small part of the GM position. What has he done for the Organization as a whole? How has he managed the long-term cap? Has he created positive energy/relationship with his coaches and players? Does he have an excellent relationship with the owner? Is there trust? Has the team improved or digressed in performance?

Based on all these questions, if I were asked to grade him, I'd give him a solid B. Yes, there is room for improvement in some decisions made; but he's done what no other current GM would be willing to do in his situation of perform now, or there's the door....And that is to bring people in with a large cap-space, and do so that if he is not GM after this season, the next GM has opportunity to rebuild quickly.

1:55 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

There's no question McKenzie has made every effort to keep certain contracts short-term, even shortened exisitng contracts, ala Matt Schaub.

Part of the reason expressed by media was that the CBA requires teams to spend a certain amount of their salary cap each year, irrespective of dead money; meaning the Raiders can't afford to carry dead money next year in order to meet their salary minimum.

Also, there seems to be a potential dead money loophole in how signing bonuses are being termed roster bonuses, or something to that effect.

After making this error in the way he structured Howard's contract, McKenzie quickly shifted gears in structuring subsequent deals. This aspect of managing deals seems well thought by McKenzie.

However, like everything else, only time will tell if it comes back to hurt us.

For example, players who we want to keep with expiring short-term deals may look for bigger pay. That's how we lost several to FA already.

In this regard, short-term deals carry risk of instability.

3:17 PM  
Anonymous JONES said...

Another reminder of the gone...Pryor traded. Shithawks, 7th rounder....this was the guy that the last season hinged on....gone for a bag of tape and kicking tees. The other one got his job back being a novelty backup in GB. Pretty hard to win in the NFL when your QB's are so inferior. Sure hope Schaub can recapture his form....the Nation needs this.


5:51 PM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

The schedule is out. The Raiders open the season in NY against the Jets. NYR, are you going?
Here's how it will play out:
Bye Week


5:25 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Difficult schedule. Especially true when you factor in an early bye and only 7 home games + 9 away games.

Yes, the "home" game vs. Miami is in London.

Makes no difference to me about the schedule -- line up and let's go.

PS - is it just me or does it seem like we have Houston permanently booked on our schedule every year?!

6:15 PM  
Blogger OakTownBlues said...

Matt Schaub, nice!

11:48 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Last Raiders game I attended in NJ the Raiders forgot to show up. However, the season opener is tempting, and the game is probably one of the best matchups the Raiders will have all season. I'll go if the opportunity presents itself.

4:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can say about the changes are: It's nice to have an offseason without any arrests.

3:22 PM  
Anonymous BJ Rassam said...

Come on - the Raiders will be under .500 mystery.

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

8 days until the draft people, who do you have the Raiders taking? Do they trade down? What about the later rounds? Are you excited? If not, are you alive?


2:06 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Jake Matthews at #5

6:57 PM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

Not sure he or Watkins will be there Calico. I think it may be Khalil Mack, or we trade with the Jets out of the spot for some of their picks.

Also, with the 49ers struggling to figure out what to do with Aldon Smith, I would be happy to trade for Aldon Smith, their first round pick, and a later round pick for the #5 spot. He would help solidify our Defensive Line nicely!

I think we have to go LB, WR, or OL with our first pick. If Watkins is gone, we should get Mack. If both are gone, we need to trade out of the spot and make a run after Marquis Lee (who I think is better than Watkins anyway). We will see what happens, but I'm sure excited about it! :D

6:32 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

HoF CB Willie Brown will be the person for the Raiders to announce their first pick; is this an indication of who their first pick will be?

11:55 AM  
Blogger nyraider said...

This is what my board looks like:

Johnny Football
Sammy Watkins
Greg Robinson
J Clowney
Jake Matthews

I've been very fickle with this order. Good news is, there's a 100% chance one of these guys will be available at #5.

I'm also open to trading down but it takes two teams to make that happen, and I wouldn't want to trade too far back in Rd 1... to try and select a player like WR Mike Evans or DL Aaron Donald.

My fear is another obscure pick. Let's hope the Raiders don't make Carr or other late round talent a #5 pick.

4:22 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

The reports about this draft are now getting weird as it approaches. Reports are now that the Texans will take Mack with the first overall pick, and Clowney could drop from #2 to #8. If that is true, then WOW!

If the Texans do draft Mack, the draft board will change significantly where I believe Watkins will be there at #5, possibly along with Clowney. Btw, I do think that Mack is the better talent than Clowney. Clowney is pure pass rush, but has no run stopping ability. He is prone to over pursue the play like Richard Seymore and Tommy Kelly did.

Anyway, it would be interesting to see if Clowney falls to #5, or who is going to be available at #5. Are these reports smoke screen to further hide what the Texans want to do, or is there some validity to the reports? If they are interested in Mack, then I think we should trade down a few spots for a few more picks, and grab Marquis Lee, who IMO is becoming the possible sleeper of the draft.

As we approach the draft, what are you guys thinking with all the differing reports? Are you excited about the draft? Are you disappointed or skeptical? I personally cannot believe how quiet this board is compared to the last few years about this time. Have we really lost that much faith with the Raiders?

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Derick from Section 318 said...

Reggie can talk all he wants about the draft being all about "building for the future" but to me, there's no way he takes an offensive lineman at 5 when he knows that for him the object of the game is to win as much as possible THIS YEAR in order to keep his job.

If Mack/Watkins/Clowney aren't available at 5 they should look to trade back a few spots and take a guy like Aaron Donald or Mike Evans. Whoever they choose needs to be a guy they feel can step in and start Day 1 and make a significant impact on the field. Reggie's simply not in a position to develop an offensive lineman this year.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Good call, Raider Nate, let's get this party started. On that note, new take is up.

8:44 PM  

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