Oakland Raiders: What Happens Next?
Bret Armstrong – Jan 14, 2012The Oakland Raiders have entered the 2012 off-season on a somewhat confusing note. The hiring of Reggie McKenzie, (an old school Raider) may have been a bright spot, but the firing of Hue Jackson as McKenzie's first act has led to some major questions.
On top of that, the Raiders have several looming free agency questions as well.
What's Next for Jackson?
Hue Jackson is an exceptional offensive coordinator in the NFL. That is unless his team is facing the Dolphins. For whatever reason, that team has his number and they aren't afraid to call it.
I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see Jackson land with the Chiefs and start causing trouble for Mark Davis and the Raiders. Al Saunders, Hue's right hand man in Oakland, was the play-caller for the Chiefs for several seasons and put together some impressive offenses.
Word on the street is newly appointed Head Coach Romeo Crennel wants somebody that can come in and handle all of the offensive business.
Jackson however, is probably waiting to see if there is any interest in him as a Head Coach somewhere before he takes over the Chiefs' offense.
Who is the Next Head Coach?
Right now there are four hats in the competition: Winston Moss, Dom Capers, Todd Bowles, and Joe Philbin. The only one with any real Head Coaching experience is Dom Capers, but Raider Nation has spoken and they want no part of Dom's third go-around.
That doesn't mean McKenzie won't just go ahead and hire him anyway though.
If I had to pick one I think the obvious answer is Winston Moss. Moss is a former Raider and I'm positive he would have an interest in becoming the Head Coach here regardless of whether he comes with one Super Bowl Ring or two.
Moss brings a lot of knowledge of defense to the table and with a bottom ranked defense in Oakland coupled with a top ten offense, he is exactly what the team needs right now. On top of that, he did enough in Green Bay to be named an assistant Head Coach. That means the Packers organization believes he has what it takes to take over in the event something happened to current Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
Joe Philbin is too much of a risk after the tragic death of his son. Who's to say where his head is at? I actually like the Packers quarterback coach, Tom Clements, to come in as the offensive coordinator. Todd Bowles could also be a candidate for that position as well, although McKenzie claims he'll let the new Head Coach pick his own staff.
One thing is for sure, whomever it is will bring some green and yellow to the building with them.
Will the Raiders switch to a 3-4?
Like Reggie McKenzie said, It really doesn't matter if you run a 3-4 or a 4-3. If the players go out and execute it then you don't have an issue. If they don't execute it then you do have an issue.
Defense is simple. Stop the other team from scoring. That's all you have to do. But the bottom line here is that the defensive coordinator, Chuck Bresnahan, sucks at being a defensive coordinator.
The Raiders played far too much zone coverage this year. I know that had a lot to do with trying to get their heads around to see the football when it was thrown, but the personnel here is not for zone coverages. They are man-to-man coverage guys...well most of them.
That's how they were drafted because that is what Al Davis liked. But the secondary has little to do with whether you play 4-3 or 3-4. Either way, their assignments remain pretty much the same.
It's the front seven that really plays into whether you are a 3-4 or a 4-3. And right now, at this very moment, the Raiders have personnel for a 4-3.
Neither Tommy Kelly or Richard Seymour can play the nose in the 3-4. And John Henderson is too old to do it with any sort of consistency. I'd also go so far as to say that none of these guys can play defensive end in that line-up either.
I know Seymour used to do it when he was with the Patriots, but the decision to move him inside in a 4-3 was not instantaneous, it came by watching him flop as a defensive end. That was two years ago.
So what are they going to do, dump one of the best 4-3 defensive tackle combos in the garbage?
Add to that the Raiders have three former top ten draft choices playing linebacker in their 4-3. They don't have a fourth and they probably won't after this off-season. Travis Goethel, you say? Give me a break, this dude can't even get on the field, let alone start.
I could see them using some three-man front looks, but as for a full conversion, I'm not buying it.
Will they re-sign Michael Bush?
The thinking here is that they may not be able to out-bid the highest bidder, but they will be able to use their franchise tag on him.
But the fact of the matter is that giving $7.5 million to a back-up halfback is a lot of investment. He may not even get that kind of offer to be a starter somewhere else.
And now you would say, "Well, if he doesn't get that kind of offer, can't the Raiders just match whatever offer he does get?"
But this is about more than money. While Bush does like being a Raider and has a ton of love and respect for his teammates, the fact is that football players want to play. When Darren McFadden has been healthy, Bush's field time has been limited.
I liken this situation to back when the Raiders signed LaMont Jordan. Bush is very much like what Jordan was to the Jets at that time. Jordan got an offer from the Jets, but he wanted to be the man somewhere else.
And based on the current running back situation in Green Bay, I'm guessing Reggie McKenzie is not going to want to spend that much coin on a guy that is potentially overrated.Right now, I'd say the Raiders will look to draft a similar running back in the latter rounds of the draft.
What about Tyvon Branch?
I think Branch is the perfect guy to use the franchise tag on. He may be the brightest spot of the Raiders defensive roster right now, but there are still questions about him long-term.
Branch has been hot and cold in his NFL career. He has a good season, then a questionable one, then a good one, and so on. There are also going to be questions about whether he fits in whatever new defense the Raiders are going with.
Remember, this will be the first time that the Raiders go into an off-season not exactly knowing what they are on defense. For years and years this was Al Davis' defense. Odds are it won't be Mark Davis' from here on out.
Branch certainly fits the criteria to be an exceptional safety in this league, but he's got a ways to go before you can call him elite. He is still questionable in coverage, (especially man-to-man) and he needs to put together back-to-back seasons before the Raiders can rightfully give him the big contract that locks him up for years.
And Marcel Reece?
Marcel Reece is a guy that the Raiders should look to lock up for at least three to four seasons. While fullbacks are becoming more and more involved in the offense around the league, nobody is quite as exceptional as Reece.
This is a guy that the Raiders began to use at tailback at the end of the season to spell Michael Bush. Reece is just as capable as anyone on this roster of taking one to the house.
And while teams aren't willing to pay a high price for a fullback seems to be the perfect time to lock one up for a few years. I'd say three to four because this guy doesn't exactly have a sparkling injury history and you don't want to be locked into him for five years on a seven-year contract.
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