Sunday, August 21, 2011

2011 Oakland Raiders Preview: More of the Same

Hey y'all, it's been a while. I basically sat out the lockout because, frankly, I was kinda burned out of football. Also, the 2010 Raiders exceeded my expectations by finishing 8-8, and I am not good at writing about things that don't anger me. Anger is what motivates me, as it does every other man of Latino descent, and when the anger is lacking, so to is the inspiration. Well, have no fear. Geriatric shit head Al Davis is back at work doing what he does best: piss me off. An offseason of subtraction by subtraction has lead to what will no doubt be a very average Oakland Raiders team. Let us take a look at how Uncle Al set about sabotaging the team before it ever stepped onto the practice field...

1- Nnamdi Asomugha goes bye bye. OK, we all knew this was going to happen. I loved Nnamdi, but the fact that he pulled down nearly $17 million last season while producing exactly ZERO picks lightened the blow a little. Now, I understand that the other team would refuse to throw his way unless they had to and he locked down his side of the field. I get that. The fact remains that last year the Raiders had a payroll north of $150 million and still didn't make the playoffs despite running the table in their division. So, when it came time to start cutting payroll and Nnamdi's contract had a termination clause that kicked in when he didn't intercept a single pass, well, peace out homie. As if that wasn't bad enough, Al Davis decided that instead of replacing Nnamdi with a good, younger free agent corner like James Joseph, he would instead throw insane amounts of money at human tiki torch Stanford Routt. Apparently Al is working under the assumption that if you pay a player like a star that he will then in turn play like one. Stanford Routt is not a star. Never has been, and in all likelihood never will. He was better last season than he had been previously, but he was not good. He was barely passable as a nickle corner. Now he's going to be the man out on the island. And if that wasn't bad enough, he's the Raiders best corner. The other starting spot will probably be held down by a revolving door of Chris Johnson, Walter McFadden, Jeremy Ware and rookies DeMarcus VanDyke, Chimdi Chekwa and the undrafted Sterling Moore. Johnson is beyond horrible. McFadden is tiny and contributes nothing against the run, although most teams don't seem to worry about running the ball when he's on the field due to the fact that his man is usually wide open. Jeremy Ware was a late pick last year and has the makings of a decent nickle back, but probably can't be a starter. VanDyke is fast (which explains why he was drafted by the Raiders) but is meth head-level skinny and can't tackle. Chekwa is hurt and is going to be a work in progress. Believe it or not, the player with the most upside out of this group might actually be Moore. Sad, but true.

2- Robert Gallery leaves, no upgrades made on the O-Line. The Raiders offensive line was terrible last season. Jared Veldheer played every position on the line last year, and is going to be given every chance to be the starting left tackle. He follows in the footsteps of Mario Henderson, who was given every chance to be the starting left tackle, who was following in the footsteps of Robert Gallery, who was given every chance to be the starting left tackle. I'll give the departed Gallery some credit here: He was an OK guard. Of course, you don't spend the #2 overall pick on an OK guard. Now that he's gone, the starting left guard job will probably go to second round pick Stefen Wisniewski. He'll have his ups and downs, but he's a Wisniewski, damnit, and that's all that matters to Al. Samson Satele is back at center, and he's OK. The right side of the line is an absolute abortion, however. Right guard Cooper Carlisle is useless. Right tackle Khalif Barnes is doing his best Kwame Harris impression, drawing flag after flag when he's not too busy allowing sacks. 4th rounder Joesph Barksdale is supposedly going to be the starting right tackle eventually, but he's not anywhere close to being ready. Daniel Loper is the utility man, able to play all line positions equally bad. This is not a good unit, and Jason Campbell needs time to be successful. Time is one thing this crappy unit will not give him.

3- Darrius Heyward-Bey is still on the team. I don't get it. He's terrible. He can't catch a thrown football. He's not getting any better. Just admit you were wrong and cut your losses. On top of this, the "veteran receiver" that Hue Jackson talked about all offseason never materialized. Another year of Jason Campbell throwing to Jacoby Ford and a bunch of guys who probably won't hold on to the ball. Great. On the plus side, Denarius Moore looks nice, but the Arena League and CFL are full of players who made some nice plays in the preseason. I'm not sweating the Zach Miller departure because Kevin Boss is pretty much his equal in the passing game with the added bonus of actually being able to block someone.

These 3 areas more than anything will be what keeps the Raiders from making the playoffs yet again. Expect a 7-9 season and me melting down a few times. Par for the course.


Raven Mack said...

why did they let Johnnie Lee Higgins get away? seems like he was kinda doing what Heyward-Bey was supposed to do. (and I guess that may be why right there)

Miguelito said...

JLH hasn't been the same since Jamarcus left him out to dry on a pass over the middle and Eric Weddle blew him into a billion pieces. Last year he was awful, and Jacoby Ford is better than him at literally everything. Such a shame, I really liked Johnnie Lee.

Raven Mack said...

oh yeah Jacoby Ford... somehow I got the two of them combined into one person and then I saw Higgins playing for the Eagles last week and I was like, "didn't that guy get like 3 kick returns for TDs last year with the Raiders?" but I was mistaken.