Sunday, February 19, 2006

Reshuffle The Deck

With the hiring of new Head Coach Art Shell and the upcoming 2006 draft looming, it is time to start the planning phase of maximizing, tweaking and re-shaping our personnel. Below are some ideas on how the Raiders can upgrade the performance on both sides of the ball. The key areas of consideration are QB, O-line, LB, and SS.

#1 – Release Kerry “Tin Man” Collins
It makes no sense to keep Collins, the man with no heart, on the team. In March Collins is due a $2.5M roster bonus and is slated for an additional $10M in salary.
Collins litany of deficiencies is quite extensive;

- Limited mobility, poor pocket awareness, inability to audible out of a bad play or read coverages, no improvisational skills, unable to consistently go to his 2nd or 3rd WR progression, poor game/clock manager, lacks passion to lead. Record as starting QB: 7-21 (.250 winning percentage). The most sure-fire, quickest way to eliminate the losing culture that has permeated the team the last 3 years is to release Collins.

There are a number of ways to upgrade the starting QB slot.

a. Trading Places: Move up in the draft to select QB Matt Leinart by exchanging picks with New Orleans plus throw in WR Doug Gabriel and a late round pick.

b. All-in: Aggressively pursue all trade avenues or the free agent market for an established veteran QB; Dante Culpepper (Minnesota), Steve McNair (Tennessee), Drew Brees (San Diego), Aaron Brooks (New Orleans)

c. Young Guns: Sign a young QB (3-6 years in the league) who is on the rise, been stuck in a back-up role or is on a team that can’t afford to keep him; Billy Volek (Tennessee), Chris Simms (Tampa Bay), Brian Griese (Tampa Bay), Matt Schaub (Atlanta), Jon Kittna (Cincinnati), Patrick Ramsey (Washington), Josh McCown (Arizona), JP Losman (Buffalo)

d. Begin the Walter Era Sooner Rather Than Later: Hand the keys over to 2nd year Raider Andrew Walter and be willing to suffer the consequences and initial growing pains of Walter maturing OJT in order to see if he is indeed our future.

e. QB Game Managers: Sign a veteran with the ability to manage the game like Trent Dilfer (Cleveland), Gus Frerotte (Miami), or Koy Detmer (Philadelphia) and let this newly signed QB compete in training camp with Andrew Walter for the starting QB position. This also provides a 1-2 year bridge for Walter to be further groomed for the starting role.

f. Long Shot Special: Brett Favre (Green Bay); Green Bay management would love to force Brett’s hand into retirement but I think Brett still has plenty of bullets left in the chamber and just wants an opportunity to win.

#2 – Shore up and improve the offensive line

With the hiring of Head Coach Art Shell and the expected hiring of Jackie Slater as the new offensive line coach, this is one area of the Raiders team that should see immediate improvement. Shell and Slater both had long, sterling Hall of Fame careers as offensive tackles in the NFL.

a. Move Robert Gallery to LT and slide Barry Sims to LG

b. In the 2nd round draft either Max Jean Gilles (OG-Georgia); read the scouting report or Deuce Lutui (OG-USC) read the scouting report or Charles Spencer (OG-Pittsburgh) read the scouting report.

c. Have Chad Slaughter and Langston Walker compete for the RT position. Early in the last game of the season vs. the NY Giants, Slaughter replaced injured starter Gallery. In this game, Slaughter manhandled, dominated and mauled perennial All-Pro DE Michael Stratham. When Shell sees the tape of this game and witnesses Slaughter in training camp, I get the feeling that he will see himself in his new starting RT. A big (6’8”-340) OT wearing #78, from a small college (Alcorn St.). Sound familiar?

Projected starting offensive Line;
LT – Robert Gallery
LG – Barry Sims
C - Jake Grove
RG – Max Jean Gilles/Deuce Lutui/Charles Spencer
RT – Chad Slaughter

#3 – Draft A.J. Hawk (OLB- Ohio St) in the 1st round. A.J. is the type of LB who would provide speed and playmaking skills. He should provide an immediate impact in run defense. Read the scouting report from NFL Draft Countdown.

#4 - Draft a SS in the 3rd round. Here are a few candidates that might be available Donte Withner (Ohio St) read the scouting report or Daniel Bullocks (Nebraska) read the scouting report or Greg Blue (Georgia) read the scouting report . Another option would be to target SS Adam Archuleta (St. Louis Rams) in free agency.

#5 – Release SS Derrick Gibson ($10M cap relief)

#6 - Let CB Charles Woodson test the free agent market

#7 – Sign free agent DE Darren Howard (New Orleans). This provides a book end for DE Derrick Burgess. The 2006 Raiders defense must be more opportunistic and create more turnovers.

With an upgrade at QB, improved line play, a commitment to the power running game coupled with big play potential, the offense should rebound from a disappointing 2005 campaign. The draft should be able to provide a few more key building blocks and playmakers to an improving defense. Art Shell’s leadership will set the tone and bring back the swagger and toughness that has sorely been missing.

I Bleed Silver and Black,

Calico Jack


Anonymous Rick Wascher said...

I like your ideas. Especially signing Howard and drafting AJ Hawk. Lienart wouldn't be much more mobile than Collins but at least he can think on his feet and change a play at the line of scrimmage. AJ can give us that rush from the edge and cover backs out of the backfield.

5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since your ideas make ain't gonna happen.Uncle Al needs to stop making fantasy plays that look good on paper and get players who want to play.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Stick'em said...

Calico: Verily, the '06 Raider QB is the enigma wrapped a riddle for HC Art Shell. Since Art is bringing back history, why not look at the great QBs of Raider past to predict the way of the future?

Lamonica, Blanda, Plunkett, and Gannon all show us you can either trade for an established QB or recycle one from the NFL scrap heap and make it to the SB (the only criterion which matters, BTW).

The wildcard is Kenny Stabler, the only great Raider QB actually drafted by the team (2nd round). The other drafted QBs have been forgettable at best. Is it permitted to even mention the names 'Wilson' or 'Marinovich' around the Raider faithful without gettin' clocked? (ducking now...)

One major legit criticism of Al Davis is the organization seems unwilling (or unable) to develop homegrown QBs into winners. The result is an apparent "Curse of the Snake" we'd all love to see the Raiders shake.

For this reason, unless Vince Young mysteriously rains from the sky, I say put Walter in and let's fail or succeed with one of our own for once.

Bring in Rich Gannon to play George Blanda for Walter. Or bring in an established QB coach like Ken Zampese, who like Al Davis himself is part of the Sid Gillman family through his father Ernie, and has demonstrated great results with Kitna and Palmer in Cinnci.

Give Walter the support system of good coaches and a solid O-line and see what happens...

With the Tin Man, we already know what will happen--we'll all be singing, "If I only had a heart" again next season.

8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is only one thing that I think isn't being looked at in this article. I believe that we can also try to upgrade the offensive line in free agency by picking up one of the three top linemen. #1 unlikely Guard Hutchinson #2 Maybe Center from New Orleans #3 probable Tackle Runyan from philly. Also always adding in the draft each year. Games are won and lost at the line of scrimmage!

9:30 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Stick'em - I love your idea to bring back Gannon as the QB Coach. His passion and attention to detail would be instilled in Walter. Gannon is the type of fiery leader who can be groomed to be our eventual Head Coach. I feel like we cannot move forward as an organization until KFC is released. The current QB quandry is like a black cloud hanging over our head. At the very least I would like to see Walter be given the opportunity to truly compete for the starting QB position in camp.

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Maverick said...

I like all of the comments. One position that needs to be address that wasn't mentioned is a second running back to spell LaMount. If we are going to give the QB any time in the pocket for our receivers to get open, we have to have a running game. In the first round I'd love to see us take A.J. Hawk but if GB takes him first, I'm hoping for White.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Maverick - There is no question that the Raiders need a back-up RB/3rd Down specialist to spell Jordan and lighten his load.

Although it is definitely a need area, I would categorize it as a lower priority compared to the QB, O-line, LB, and SS. I wouldn't want the Raiders to waste a draft pick in the 1st 3 rounds on a RB.

However, if Joseph Addai (LSU), or Maurice Drew (UCLA) or Gerald Riggs (Tennessee) slips down in the later rounds and become available as late as the 4th round, that would be a better overall value pick.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Stick'em said...

We all love the idea of Gannon coming back as a coach, but I have the feeling it won't be for a few years yet. Gannon's on record stating he has other commitments, for now, and Al's on record stating Gannon be back as part of the franchise one day...

Until then, let's give Rich the ammo to work with. Gannon said "(Drew) Brees' shoulder (the same torn labrum injury Gannon himself suffered) could become stronger because of all the rehabilitation and strengthening exercises."

Steal a Pro-Bowl caliber QB from Snottenheimer's Dischargers and have him come back stronger than ever--BRILLIANT! My vote is now officially take Gannon’s word for it and bring in Drew Brees.

NFL Network (for what it is worth) reports the Tin Man is ready to hit the yellow brick road. KFC and the Raiders are scheduled to meet in Indy this week to discuss his future (or lack thereof) with the team.

The Tin Man reportedly wants out, and here's hoping the door is as wide open as all the receivers he's failed to see the last two seasons!

Once we have a QB with a heart--picture the Drew and Drew show (Brees and Walter)--then it will be high time to find a replacement for the Scarecrow at SS. I'm even more tired of hearing Radio Gibson singing, "If I only had a brain" than Collins whistling his song as he “works”.

6:09 AM  
Anonymous Stick'em said...

Oops...I forgot to give the NFL Network link suggesting the glorious words KFC is Out in Oakland Hope the mediots are right for a change...

6:21 AM  
Blogger resigned idealist said...

You really think that Gannon would make a good head coach one day? I love Gannon, but I think his personality would be better suited as an offensive coordinator, not a head coach. My reasoning is that Gannon gets so caught up in one line of thinking that if he comes up against anything that stands up to it, he will just throw more of the same at it instead of being flexible enough to shift attitudes.

My other raised eyebrow is at the thought of trading Doug Gabriel. Why do you think that'll be good?

12:16 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Resigned Idealist -
In many ways, Gannon and Gruden are very similar. Both are work-aholics, high energy, strong willed, knowledgeable, x's and o's savvy, and most importatly, both are passionate leaders. Both men have demanded and earned the respect of the Raider players.

As QB, Gannon was the equivalent of a game field Head Coach. The Raider players listened to him intently in the huddle, followed him in battle, and executed the game plan. Gannon's attention to detail, professionalism, and strong leadership skills are a great match for becoming a Head Coach.

I disagree with you in terms of Gannon's ability to be flexible. Gannon will do whatever is necessary to get a win. In his career he was able to adapt to new systems, environments, and roles.

The career path I would like to see for Gannon is to first get his feet wet as our QB Coach (2007?). After a few years I think he could be promoted to offensive coordinator. In 5+ years he could be the type of dynamic leader who could lead the Raiders to great heights.

Lastly, Gannon has a good working relationship with Al Davis. They have mutual respect and admiration for each other. As we all know, this is a critical element to whether or not a Head Coach is successful for the Silver and Black.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Resigned Idealist -
If the Raiders are going to

a) move up in the draft (from the 7th pick to the 2nd pick) to grab Leinart or

b) pull off a trade for veteran QB

it will be necessary to trade a player such as WR Doug Gabriel. I like Gabriel as our 3rd receiver. However, the WR position is where we have the most depth and could afford to give up a talented player such as Gabriel.

7:37 AM  

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