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,