Roll Out the New Offense
The regular season opener is less than a week away. The roster has been pared down to 53. JaMarcus Russell is still a holdout. With or without Russell in 2007, the Kiffin era officially begins on September 9th vs. the Detroit Lions. After the obligatory test drive of the 2007 Raiders in preseason, it is GO time. After last year's nightmare season & dismal offensive performance, the rebuilding phase started with the hiring of Lane Kiffin. The obvious emphasis in the rebuilding phase was to concentrate on improving the offensive unit. Fortunately, the defensive unit has been steadily improving over the last 3 years. Last year's defensive unit ranked #3 in YPG at 284.8 and had the #1 rated pass defense at 150.8. Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan looks to shape this group into an elite unit. For the D to take its next step, it will need to play the run better and become even more opportunistic in creating turnovers & sacks.
The offensive numbers from last year were UGLY. Here's a quick summary. If you start getting queasy, scroll down.
Scoring: Ranked #32 >>> 10.5 pts. per game (5 rushing TDs, 7 passing TDs)
Rushing: Ranked #29 >>> 94.9 yards per game; 3.9 yards per carry
Passing: Ranked #31 >>> 151.2 yards per game; 5.9 yards per reception
Sacks Allowed: Ranked #32 >>> 72 sacks allowed; 4.5 sacks per game
Turnovers: 40 >>> 24 INTs + 16 fumbles
The Raiders are in the midst of a major overhaul and rebuilding phase when it comes to the offensive unit. To illustrate this point, below is the projected starters for 2007 in comparison to last year's unit. Out of 11 starters from last year, only 1 remains either as a starter or in his original position.
|WR1||Randy Moss||Jerry Porter|
|LT||Robert Gallery||Barry Sims|
|C||Jake Grove||Jeremy Newberry|
|RG||Kevin Boothe||Cooper Carlisle|
|RT||Langston Walker||Cornell Green|
|TE||Courtney Anderson||Zach Miller|
|FB||Zach Crockett||Justin Griffith|
|QB||Aaron Brooks||Daunte Culpepper|
|RB||Lamont Jordan||Lamont Jordan|
|WR2||Alvis Whitted||Ronald Curry|
The overhaul in offensive personnel, an entirely new offensive coaching staff, the infusion of new talent, and the reconfiguration of the OLine were necessary 1st steps in the rebuilding process. However, to turn the roster over without a cohesive plan would lessen the impact and progress that this unit needs to make. All the pieces need to fit cohesively. The coaching philosophy, scheme, playcalling, and personnel must be singing from the same sheet of music.
Out: Shell's antiquated offense that relied on man on man power blocking, 5 & 7 step drops, vertical offense. The RBs & TE were not used as integral parts in the passing game. The playcalling by Tom Walsh was unimgainative, predicatable, and lacked common sense. In game adjustments made by the coaching staff were nonexistent.
In: Kiffin is well versed in modern offensive game planning and will rely on Tom Cable's zone blocking scheme, 3 & 5 step drops, a hybrid West Coast offense, and a diversified offensive philosophy where the RBs & TE are primary weapons in the passing game. Kiffin will be calling the plays. His use of roll outs, bootlegs, moving pockets, multiple formations, and creative use of personnel will give this offense a boost in production and new identity.
Questions of the Day:
#1: If Culpepper plays well for the Raiders in 2007 and bonds with his teammates and coaching staff, how likely do you think Al Davis will extend Culpepper's contract to a multi year deal?
#2: Will Russell sign before the season, during the season, draft rights be traded in March, or will he be back in the 2008 draft?