Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Banking on Shut Down Corners

The eventual signing of DeAngelo Hall is on the horizon. It is always exciting to land a supremely gifted young player like Hall who has played at an All Pro caliber level in 2 of his 4 season in the league. Here's the scouting report on DeAngelo Hall:

Hall has an excellent combination of quickness, speed and agility. He routinely matches up with the opponent's top receiver. He is tough, physical and confident. He has the ability to be a very effective press cornerback. He can reroute and disrupt the timing of a receiver with his jam. He plays with good body position on vertical routes and has the speed to run with any receiver in the league. He has very good ball skills and hands. He will make the difficult pick and is a dangerous threat with the ball. He has very good man-top-man cover skills. He is aggressive against the run and will attack the ball from an outside-in position. He is an effective ankle tackler. But Hall is inconsistent for an elite cornerback and tends to play fast and loose. He sometimes lacks focus in zone coverage and can get lazy with his technique. He allows too many completion in front of him. He takes chances on the back end in coverage. He is a bit reckless and undisciplined in run support. He will throw his body at a runner. He sometimes loses outside leverage on the ball.

A Few Questions To Ponder:
(1) Is this mega deal the best way to utilize the team's cap space?
Constructing a 53 man roster is like putting together a complicated jig saw puzzle. The key is identifying your team's weaknesses, upgrading the talent level, and spending your cap dollars on player who can make the biggest positive impact. Getting the most "bang for your buck" is the simplest way to put it. Managing your cap space means spending your dollars wisely to set yourself up for the following years.

(2) Is the pairing of Hall and Asomugha Al's way of trying in vain to recapture the magic of Hayes and Haynes?
This isn't 1983. In 1983, the Raiders ran a 3/4 defense and had 3 eventual Hall of Famers (Long, Hendricks, Haynes) and numerous Pro Bowlers (Millen, Martin, Hayes). Here's the 1983 SBXVIII defense in comparison to the projected 2008 lineup:

1983 Defensive Edition
75 Howie Long LE
62 Reggie Kinlaw NT
77 Lyle Alzado RE
83 Ted Hendricks LOLB
55 Matt Millen LILB
51 Bob Nelson RILB
53 Rod Martin ROLB
37 Lester Hayes LCB
22 Mike Haynes RCB
36 Mike Davis SS
26 Vann McElroy FS

2008 Defensive Edition
56 Derrick Burgess RDE
63 Gerrard Warren DT
93 Tommy Kelly DT
98 Jay Richardson LDE (or possibly Vernon Gholston #4 pick)
53 Thomas Howard WLB
52 Kirk Morrison MLB
55 Robert Thomas SLB
21 Nnamdi Asomugha LCB
XX DeAngelo Hall RCB
28 Girbil Wilson SS
24 Michael Huff FS

(3) How will the Hall signing impact the Raiders ability to sign Asomugha long term?
Assuming we are able to sign Asomugha to a long term deal equal to or greater than Hall's deal, is it prudent to spend $20M a year to secure the services of your 2 corners? This move reminds of when SF traded for Neon Deion Sanders. The BIG difference though was SF was already one of the top teams who was adding the cherry on top to an elite team. The Raiders have been cellar dwellers for 5 seasons straight. I believe the Raiders need to take the approach of a bricks and mortar approach. Our Run D and OLine are far from being finished products or top groups. A CB is dessert. DL & OL are meat and potatoes.

(4) In what ways will the Hall signing impact our key defensive deficiencies?
(a) Run Defense: Ranked #32 in the NFL (4.8 YPC) > The Raiders defensive scheme will be to allow Hall & Asomugha to play man to man coverage. The other 9 defenders will have greater latitude to play the run and be positioned closer to the line of scrimmage. Safeties Huff & Wilson should have free reign to support the run. Our DTs (Kelly, Warren, Sands, Joseph) will need to raise their level of play and do a better job clogging the middle.

(b) Turnovers Created: Ranked #21 in the NFL (18 Ints; 8 fumbles) > The "trickle down" effect of signing Hall is that the opponent's QB will find it very difficult to avoid Asomugha's side of the field. I am expecting Asomugha to rack up between 5 to 8 INTs in 2008. It will be imperative for Michael Huff to maximize his ball hawking skills at FS. Of course we are literally banking on Hall demonstrating his playmaking and return skills to make a difference.

(c) Pass Rush/Sacks Created: Ranked #28 in the NFL (27 sacks) > There is no question that by having the best CB tandem in the NFL, there will be more opportunities for the Raiders to put the opponent's QB on his back. First, it creates a platform for Ryan to blitz more liberally. Secondly, the sticky coverage of the DBs will force the QB to hold on to the ball a second or two longer. On obvious passing downs, it is imperative for Ryan to mix in some exotic blitz schemes to aid this cause and keep the QB guessing where the pressure is coming from. Thomas Howard, the fastest LB in the entire NFL, should be utilized as a blitzing edge rusher. Both Huff and Wilson can quickly converge on the QB from a variety of angles.

Clearly the ball is in DC Rob Ryan's court to employ a D that is both aggressive and unpredictable. He will need to trust Hall/Asomugha to be on an island and turn the other defenders loose to attack the line of scrimmage, get after the QB, and dictate the action on the field. You got your hair cut Rob. Now how bout' cutting the dogs of war loose?

The signing of Hall is an exciting acquisition but you have to wonder if it will create headaches and cap woes that were completely avoidable. For Al's sake, I'm hoping he gets a solid return on his numerous off season investments.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

With this money the Raiders are spending, two things come to mind... Al Davis is trying to win now and he also must think that their will be uncapped years ahead (even though I know a lot of the monies won't be ever seen by those signed to huge contracts)

5:21 AM  
Blogger sactownraiderfan said...

When Have we ever had cap issues? Why are you worried about the cap and a guys contract? You don't need to stress about it, It's not your job or your money. Just enjoy having exciting new players. The run d will be better without Sapp and a real safety. We can stack against the run on every down. Lock down on the corners. The o-line was so much better in year one. What will happen in year two? Watch out for Mario! Draft Mcfadden. Noone will protect Russel like play action.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous memdf said...

Excellent post. Much food for thought. Look at that '83 D!

9:59 AM  
Anonymous scorpio said...

its mcfadden or gholston who's coming to town. i prefer mcfadden but i'll be very happy with either player.

my question to 5:21 anon (or anyone for that matter) is IF there will be no salary cap, what happens when a player gets old or his performance drops off. Is the team stuck with that salary? with the cap, if the above happens, the player's contract is backloaded and many times will never see that money.

can anyone elaborate on this?

6:23 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Anonymous 5:21 > The chances of uncapped years in the NFL are highly unlikely. It would be economic suicide for the owners and the league.

Sactownraiderfan > We've had cap issues throughout this decade. Cap issues would include having "dead" money on the books to the tune of $11M last year. Cap issues also would include the team's ability to sign top FAs in prior seasons.

I'm not stressed about the contracts we are handing out ... concerned would be a better word. It's Al's team and his right to spend his money as he sees fit.

My main point in the post was that the organization needs to prioritize how they spend the cap dollars in such a way that (a) we will get the most bang for our buck (b) and be in good cap shape for 2009 and beyond.

The mega contracts handed out to Kelly, Walker, Wilson, and Hall could severely tie our hands to add other vital pieces to a 53 man team.

It's fair to ask: Would you be pissed if we don't sign Asomugha to a long term deal because Hall inked a 7yr/$70M deal?

Scorpio > I'm leaning towards Gholston. Our DLine would be as follows:

DT Warren/Sands
DT Kelly/Joseph
LDE Gholston/Richardson

As far as having uncapped years ... I believe in 2009 the owners plan to opt out of the current CBA and renegotiate a new CBA. IF there isn't a CBA in place, you would have an uncapped spending spree. I don't see this happening. It would be detrimental to the league in that it would kill the competitive balance and financial certainty that a salary cap provides. It would also become a "have's" and "have not" situation similar to MLB. A team like the NY Yankee's payroll is 5x that of the Tampa Bay Rays.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I especially liked the 2008/1983 comparison.

Even though I was 5 at the time, I think I know enough about the '83 team to say we're not quite there yet.

Sure, we're on the verge on locking up 2 shut-down corners. And our safeties are probably BETTER, all things considered.

But the front 7 is where we are lacking. SOH would improve it exponentially but I still say our front 7 were more effective back then.

Tough to beat. So at least we're able to "compare". Afterall, Al called it the best D of all time.


8:58 PM  
Blogger PantyRaider said...

#1...When Kiffin was hired we expected him to have us back in the "Play-Off"s within the same 3 year span as Gruden did it for us....This is his 2nd year....Some final pieces will be added next year depending upon what is available....And that's the "KEY" word here....What is available at the time....

"CB"-n-"S" were available now and are being locked up for the future along with the "CB"-n-"S" we already had...This is a Great move by "MrD" to bring the "No Passing Zone" back to the Raiders "D"...

Our "DL" will be improved this year for the reasons sited in your post and also because our young players have had more time to develop and start the season healthy....

Add to that the fact that now "SOB" is on the "Hot-Seat" and needs to make a big showing to secure his job for the long term or showcase himself for another owner...He made the statement that he does not have a bunch of "PB"s on his squad well now you do and "PB"s are made partially by the system they play in....He has to get the job done and now should not have to worry so much about the "O" not being able to score points....

At this point I am more worried about supplying help for our young "Rookie-QB"....A very strong running game is imperative to take pleasure of off him....We don't want to leave our "D" with their backs up against the wall time and again as in seasons past...Field position is extremely important for the "D"....They need to have room to bend and also space to make up for a mistake....And they love to smell blood when their opponents are pushed up against the wall too....

I am very excited about the season at hand but also reasonable...If we can have the #10 "D" -n- "10" "O" we will be rubbing shoulders with "SD" for the West Tittle....Next year with the addition of the final pieces we will take it from them "Hands-Down" and be on our way back to the "SB" Hoop-La....

PantyRaider....Draft "Run DMc"....

9:36 PM  
Blogger PantyRaider said...

The New Cap...

My understanding...

There will now be a "Rookie" cap for each draft pick regardless of what position the player plays....So the #1 will pay a "DT" the same as a "QB"....That will play into some teams value chart as to who they will pick in the 1st round...teams with bad records will be allowed to spend more than teams with good records...

There will be NO cap on Re-Signing your own players....So this will allow for more continuity on the teams and stop the "Shit-Canning" of older players who can still contribute....

So the Cap will apply to signing players away from their teams and on "FA" who have not been re-signed....

The NFLPA is reportedly in agreement with the plan already because it protects their present members instead of the new guys coming in who have not proven themselves yet....You want to see "Dead-Money" just look at all the money paid out for a player who excited the scouts but laid an egg when he got on the field...."Busts Galore"....That is what is strapping the owners...And the "Blood-Sucking-Agents" who never strapped on a freakin Jock...

9:55 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Dude, I luv-ya but please... How can you compare the old Raiders to the current crop... Those guys are proven, consecrated and will live 4 as long as this country exits (May God's plan be for a loooooooooong time)

As much as I have questioned Al's choices in the past, this year Mr Davis is kicking ass and taking NO prisoners so what else can the man do before so many of us in the Nation STOP taking pot shots at him...

Al's trying REAL HARD so let the guy be and hopefully the chemistry is there, the talent pool certainly is getting a whole lot better.

With injuries (we hope) to a minimum, this group of players should make quite a statment and I for one am looking foward to it!!!


Now let Kiffin coach and we'll be in there baby!!!

1:36 AM  

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