Memo to Al Davis: Forget the stopwatch, fix the trenches


You can’t build a house without first laying a proper foundation. What’s true in the world of construction applies equally to the sports world.

Seven years running of brutal football being played in the East Bay has left the once proud Oakland Raiders as an all too easy punchline after cracking Detroit Lions jokes went from being funny to cruel.

Fixing the problems that plague the Raiders go much further than simply getting JaMarcus Russell on a treadmill. The entire philosophy from updating the defensive scheme to rethinking the approach in free agency must be overhauled.

While the value found in the later rounds of the draft in recent years has been outstanding (Shane Lechler 5th round, Kirk Morrison 3rd round, Trevor Scott 6th round, Tyvon Branch 4th round, Michael Bush 4th round), the contracts handed out to top 10 picks has been embarrassing relative to their production (JaMarcus Russell $60-million, Michael Huff $43-million, Darren McFadden $60-million, Darrius Heyward-Bey $32-million).

In 2009, there was a bonanza of talent to be had at the position of offensive tackle. Then DHB went out and ran a 4.30 40-yard dash and the rest was history. Hey-Bey’s speed won out over more pressing needs and the Raiders were doomed to another year of Cornell Green false starting more often than Kwame Harris.

It wasn’t only the offensive line that needed help a year ago. On the other side of the ball the Raiders were just as bad at defending the run despite acquiring veterans Greg Ellis and Richard Seymour.  

Not coincidentally, the past seven years of wretched football have been accompanied by an inability to protect the passer and stop the run.

The time has come for Mr. Davis to put away the stopwatch and get back to the essence of the game.

It is time for the Raiders to get in the trenches and begin to rebuild from the ground up.

There is plenty of value to be found on both the offensive and defensive lines in 2010. So much so that yours truly went out a proved so by taking an offensive tackle and a defensive tackle in the first two rounds of the FanSided/CBS Sports live mock draft today.

While you may not agree with my selections, none can argue that they are two areas of need that must be addressed in the first three rounds of the draft.

The last time the Raiders selected a defensive lineman in the first round of the draft was back in 2003 when Tyler Brayton was the last name called in the first round. The following year would mark the last time the Raiders grabbed an offensive lineman in the first round as Robert Gallery was selected second overall in ’04.

One can see how both picks would make even the most maverick of general managers a little gun shy about revisiting past mistakes. However, that didn’t stop Al Davis from picking 5 different defensive backs in the first round during the past decade.

Absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the NFL draft. It is, after all, the biggest gamble in sports. Of course, doing nothing and staying the course with inferior talent and outdated schemes assures a 12th consecutive year of double digit losses.

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  • Slam

    Chris – email me offline, I have to tell you a great story about a chat with a raiders coach …. I assume you have my email address…..Slam

  • slayton

    “While the value found in the later rounds of the draft in recent years has been outstanding.” Really? You had to go all the way back to 1999 to find 5 guys (including a 3rd rounder) that actually play on an *at best* 5 win team and that’s ‘outstanding’ value? Give me a break.

  • Phil

    With only 2 DT’s on the current roster, and one a backup at that in Kelly and Joseph, the Raiders better draft a DT early on. Sure Seymour can play DT, but he is listed as a DE and that’s where he plays most of the time. Yes, the Raiders need OT’s, but at least they have a few on the roster unlike DT’s. Anything but a DT and OT in the early round would be a waste.

  • jake

    I think it very simple. If the Raiders don’t draft either an offensive lineman or defensive lineman early in the draft then nothing is going to change. Nothing. Its been so long since they have had a decent draft that most of us fans now are apprehesive with the draft and the continued reach for players when there have been quality players available. Monroe and Oher last year, and we take a w/r. What is even worst is go back and look at players we have passed up and instead taken Gallery, Huff, Russell, McFadden, Bey, Washington, and on and on, the picks have been terrible. It is poor management and you can’t fire the management, so we live with it, but its showing up in the empty seats each week along with the numerous black outs. I predict if the Raiders pass on a lineman and take another 4.3 track star ticket sales and black out games will reach levels never seen in the Raiders history.
    Al your in charge you make the call what you want to do. The fans know what has to happen to improve, but you need to look at your past record on player evaluation. It hasn’t been very good and its not your pro scout department, they know how to evaluate, but you need to adhere to their evalutaion of players. You use to do it, but some how you have forgotten how to do it.