After losing to Detroit, Real Answers on How to Make the Raiders Elite Again”

Jack-Del-Rio

After losing 18-13 to the Detroit Lions yesterday , the Oakland Raiders need to do some soul searching. It’s time to get down and dirty and see what needs to happen for the Raiders to be an elite team in the NFL.  Today lets look at the front office and the offense.

A Different Era:

Many experts are kind of shaking their heads at how bad the NFL has become.   The salary cap has created parity alright; now most teams aren’t good.

The days of the super teams are over and to get good in the NFL doesn’t take as much as people think.

Let’s look at the Raiders from the top on down to see what is happening and what should happen.

Owner:

It’s not his fault but Mark Davis is not his dad. He got an NFL team because he inherited it. Unfortunately just like 49er head Jed York, I think at times he is way in over his head. Many media outlets say he is the main reason the NFL isn’t too thrilled about the Raiders going to Carson.

I’m also sick of the Raiders stadium issue. I go by a man’s actions and not by what they say and his actions say I want out of Oakland while his words say I want to stay. I’m not a fan of his but you can’t change the owner.   He has though for the most part stayed out of the way of the football operations which is smart on his part.

If I’m Mark Davis I have a big meeting with GM Reggie McKenzie and the coaching staff. I say these things. “If we don’t make the playoffs by next year, I’m paying you off and letting you go.   If we don’t win a playoff game within 2 years I’m letting you all go. Anything less is unacceptable. In that time I will listen to you and do what I can to support you in any way but mediocrity and losing doesn’t live here anymore. Just win baby is what my dad lived by and it’s what we are going to live by. It’s not a corny phrase it’s a way of life.  Nothing less is acceptable.”

General Manager:

For most Oakland Raider fans, there is no middle ground and they either hate or love Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie. Some are just allergic to saying anything bad about the players and they blame it all on the GM, and some sing his praises saying he’s been an amazing GM fixing the Raiders salary cap hell and bringing them to respectability again.

I’m in the middle. He’s done some nice things with Carr, Mack, Jackson, Crabtree, Williams and others.   Donald Penn was considered somewhat washed up and he picked him up and he’s resurrected his career. His drafts have been brutal at times but he’s also had some great picks that are creating a good foundation for the future. For every Dan Williams though there are the Lamarr Woodley’s.

For example one mistake for sure was drafting DJ Hayden. DL Star Lotulelei dropped into their lap and they went with Hayden. Star now is a key player on the best DL in the NFL in Carolina.  I had to drink two extra Bass and 4 extra Guinness beers due to this draft pick.  (Ok well that’s what I told my girlfriend at the time).

Coaching:

People that follow me know I’m very lukewarm on Jack Del Rio as head coach.   I think he’s had limited success as a coach in his career.   He is a good motivator and a good football man but I think to get to the next level, I’m not sure he can do it.

I was TOTALLY against offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave who has had very little true success in his almost 2 decade career. He is just way too conservative for my taste, especially in the second half of games. Teams are now protecting against the deep ball against the Raiders and they still haven’t had many adjustments. You also have to put some blame on QB Derek Carr. In the end he’s the captain of the ship and he can change the play at any time but he doesn’t.

I love what Mike Tice has done to the offensive line and Ken Norton Jr. will be good in time. I like him and his aggressive style but the Raiders defense isn’t that talented.

Quarterback:

I like Derek Carr and when he was drafted I was singing his praises. Derek Carr is going to be a solid NFL quarterback for years to come.  He has limitations though.

Lately the Raiders have struggled.  The Raiders have only scored in 2 of the last 8 quarters.  He still struggles with a rush and as long as the OL gives him a lot of time, he can dissect any defense. If you get in his face though, he’s a totally different quarterback. He also does not audible much.

People will say,”but his stats against a blitz are among the top 10 in the NFL”.  So what.   If the blitz is picked up; which usually is by the Raiders stud OL with the help of Lee Smith and their running backs; then of course the QB will do well. Many of these stats that people like to use don’t tell the whole story but they are used to try and prove points that they agree with.

The Lions did what the Vikings did and played a lot more cover 2, or 2 high or Tampa 2 or whatever you want to call it. That’s when your safeties play back to guard against the deep ball. As announcers Steve Beurlin and Steve Tasker brought up a couple of times, the stats for the Raiders medium passing game are near the bottom of the NFL. So far the Raiders aren’t adjusting to what defenses are doing.

Carr doesn’t audible much which is puzzling. If the safeties are back for the long ball, audible and change the play to a running play because the defense now has only 9 players to stop the run. If they play up; which at times Detroit did on first down protecting against the run; then do a play action pass and throw deep.

On twitter at half time I said that. Detroit was guarding against the run on 1st down.  “On the first play, do a play action pass and throw deep and then go no huddle.” The Raiders did do a play action pass and low and behold they completed a 43 yard pass play. You throw deep to do two things; try to complete a deep ball AND to stretch the defense and keep them honest knowing you have the threat of the long ball. When you don’t throw the long ball, the DB’s creep up and it makes running the ball harder, and it takes away a key cog in your arsenal.

Like most college spread QB’s they are wide receiver happy. Carr has to look for his tight ends more. He threw to tight ends only 4 times against Detroit, completing 2 of those passes.

Again, I like Carr but he still is in his second year and is learning.

Offensive Line:

The Raiders offensive line is really good and one of the top ones in the NFL. What they need though is depth.   If center Rodney Hudson, Donald Penn or Gabe Jackson goes down, the level of play drops. The Raiders have been lucky that for the most part they have been healthy. Menelik Watson will be back next year and that should help. Look at the Vikings; they’ve lost 3 starting OL. Mike Tice has also been a good influence. I like this group a lot.

Running Back:

No changes needed.  The Raiders should stick with this group.  They are good and don’t cost a lot.  I don’t think Latavius Murray is a work horse that can carry it 25-30 times a game but he’s good as a starter. Bring in the very underrated Jamize Olawale who I think could start on some teams. Add Marcel Reece with an occasional carry and this is a very solid group. The Raiders running backs are good blockers when they are called to help with blitzes.

I am still disappointed though that Roy Helu Jr. doesn’t get more touches. I think the Raiders are not using him properly. He’s as solid as it gets and he’s having a rough time getting on the field in passing downs where he excels. I would love to see him in no huddle situations.

Wide Receivers:

The Raiders are going to have to break the bank a bit to keep Michael Crabtree.   Crabtree on purpose signed a one year deal for less money in the hopes he’d rebound and then he’d sign a big long term deal in the off season. It’s not for sure that the Raiders can keep him. Crabtree is a loner type and money and appreciation is something he will want.   He is probably their best receiver.   Amari Cooper will be a very good pro despite having a bad game.

I’m not a big fan of Seth Roberts and would rather play Andre Holmes who to me has a lot more talent. The Raiders will need to keep Crabtree or this could get ugly.  Please no more Calvin Johnson talk.  He doesn’t have that epic burst anymore and the Raiders need young speed.  I LOVE Johnson and actually wanted him or my favorite college player since Billy Simms; Adrian Peterson; to be drafted by the Raiders but we know where that went.  Jamarcus Russell. sigh.

Tight Ends:

Mychal Rivera and Clive Walford have done a nice job for the Raiders.   Problem is the Raiders offense is just not a tight end offense. Lee Smith never gets credit but he’s the best blocking tight end in the business and was a great pick up. I say stick with these guys but start throwing to them more. Without a medium passing game, you are not going to do well consistently on offense.

Against the Vikings, Rivera caught 6 passes for 46 yards. Against the Lions, he was only thrown to twice and caught one for 21 yards. Walford only had 2 passes thrown to him all game and he caught one. For the entire game you only throw to your tight ends 4 times and you are a passing team? That’s not going to win you games.

 

Tomorrow we will look at the defense.

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