Oakland Raiders: Tom Flores Speaks About Raiders
Stuart Kovacs – Jul 17, 2012
As the leader of two Super Bowl winning teams, Oakland Raiders’ renowned head coach Tom Flores knows a good deal about what it means to be a member of the Silver and Black.
This weekend, the former coach and current radio color commentator for the Raiders appeared on SiriusXM NFL Radio’s “The End Zone” to discuss several aspects of the current state of the Raiders, according to Paul Gutierrez of CSNBayArea.com.
As a former quarterback himself, Flores understands the pressure that comes with the position. He believes that while current quarterback Carson Palmer is definitely talented, it’ll take a while to fully evaluate the trade that the team made last season.
"Time will tell whether that was a good trade or not."
The former star at the University of the Pacific also spoke about what that the team needs to get better at in order to have success in 2012. The two aspects he focused on were cutting down on penalties, which set league records last season, as well as improved linebacker play.
"We were always good enough to win. We had good enough players to win, overcome the penalties, overcome the turnovers, but they're not good enough to do that right now and they've got to have a little bit more discipline and I think, in my opinion, they've got to have better linebacker play."
When speaking about the necessity for better play at the linebacker position, this easily led to a discussion about current Raiders’ middle linebacker Rolando McClain who is at a crossroads in his career.
The eighth-overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft has been regarded as a disappointment thus far on and off of the field.
In addition to not putting up the numbers that many would expect from a top ten selection, McClain was also sentenced to 180 days in jail on May 17th after being found guilty of assault, reckless endangerment, menacing, and unlawful discharging of a firearm.
Flores was quick to criticize McClain’s inconsistency at the linebacker position as well as his poor judgment when returning to his home state of Alabama.
"I think he was a disappointment last year. One play he'll look like an All-Pro and then the other play he'll look just like an average guy. And then the fiasco when he went home for an occasion, that didn't go over too well. But he's got to prove himself still, in my opinion. He hasn't lived up to expectations so I think there's still some speculation there."
While he believes that the linebacker position is the biggest weakness on the team’s defense, Flores is happy with Aaron Curry who was acquired by the team during the 2011 season. However, outside of him, he believes that not only McClain, but every other linebacker on the team has something to prove.
"I think most of it came from the linebacker position. I think the defensive line is pretty solid… (Aaron) Curry, I think, came on well last year. That was a good acquisition when they got him from Seattle. He's the only one right now I'm feeling pretty good about. The rest of them all have to rise, or somebody has to rise to the occasion on the other two positions. And then a lot of it depends on what they're going to try to play. Their outside linebackers last year, most of them with the exception of Curry, were pass rushers, instead of linebackers."
While Flores believes that linebacker is the biggest weakness on the Raiders, he also sees the cornerback position as one that needs to improve. He thinks that while Stanford Routt, whom the Raiders got rid of this offseason, is a talented player, he made way too many mistakes that aid the opposing team.
"They got rid of Stanford Routt. Whether that's a good thing or not? He made plays, and then he made plays for the other team with all the pass interference calls that he had. He led the league in pass interference."
While Flores spoke about the many negatives that plagued the team in 2011, he also focused on a few aspects that make the future of the Raiders bright.
He is ecstatic with what new general manager Reggie McKenzie has done since being named to the position this past January. He thinks that the team will be able move up to the “next level” with McKenzie and all of the experience he has gained working under Ron Wolff in Green Bay.
"I like it right now, I sure do. He's had to come in and change (things). The team was not caught in time, but as long as Al Davis was alive and running the show it could be run the way it was run. But now with him gone, they've got to go to the next level or the next generation, the next era, I should say, and Reggie will bring some experience that he gained under Ron Wolff in Green Bay and on his own in Green Bay, pretty good solid organization. So it's going to be a different style."
Flores also likes the Raiders’ chances to be competitive in the AFC West this season because of the fact that it is wide open. He doesn’t believe that there is one team that is prepared to run away with the division.
"I think it's exciting, I think it's a good time to be in the AFC West because I think the whole thing is up for grabs. I don't think there's any team that you're going to say right now is going to dominate the division.
As a legendary figure in Oakland Raiders’ history, Tom Flores has definitely earned the right to speak his mind about the team. As someone who has had firsthand knowledge in both coaching and broadcasting for the organization, he knows what needs to be done to put a successful football team on the field.
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