Individually, the Oakland Raiders have a talented defense. As a unit, it just hasn’t worked out. The defensive line was supposed to be a strength this season. Instead it was a major disappointment. Now you can say the loss of Matt Shaughnessy significantly softened the D-line but tell that to the millions paid to Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour.
No matter their actual ability, anytime a player inks a mega deal then major production is expected.
Seymour’s hot and cold streaks still earned him enough recognition as a Pro Bowl worthy talent. Not that making the Pro Bowl is a true reflection on how good the season was but it does say there is enough respect for Seymour around the league that he gets penciled in for yearly trips to Hawaii. That and his huge price tag guarantees Seymour’s job is safe.
We’re still waiting for Tommy Kelly to live up to his contract.
Kelly is as physically talented a defensive tackle as you’ll find in the NFL. At times he makes Seymour seem insignificant. But those moments are few and far between. Nearly four years after Al Davis rewarded Kelly wit an out-of-nowhere contract there has been no indication that Kelly’s presence has made the Oakland defense any better with him than it is without.
That is why Reggie McKenzie must be contemplating another roster cut to save some money and move forward.
Kelly isn’t alone in that department. Stanford Routt is already looking for work and Kamerion Wimbley might also be in that same boat.
Wimbley’s talent as a pass rusher isn’t so great that it compensates for all the other areas in which his game is lacking. After getting a phat contract from Davis, Wimbley did little to prove he was worth the big bucks. Take away one stellar performance against San Diego and Wimbley was almost irrelevant for the 2011 season.
Without question both Kelly and Wimbley could be very valuable to any defense. Not all of the blame for their disappointing season falls on them. Some of that blame also must be shared with the outdated defensive schemes employed by Al Davis. Relying on the defensive line to generate consistent pressure with minimal blitzing just won’t cut it in the NFL any longer.
Both Kelly and Wimbley were routinely seen putting pressure on opposing passers so in some sense they carried out their jobs with great execution. However for the price those pressures are at a premium. You also cannot ignore the overall results that the defense generated.
McKenzie must know that this team could have lost many of those games just as easily with cheaper players than the team did with high priced ones. Like all businesses the bottom line in football is almost always the deciding factor in personnel moves.
If Kelly and Wimbley are open to restructuring their deals then there’s a good chance both might be back in silver and black. But even that option doesn’t guarantee their stay in the East Bay. McKenzie and Mark Davis are out to start anew. We’ve already seen many of the connections to Al Davis shown the exit. Both Kelly and Wimbley were among the many Davis projects that would have been allowed to continue to collect checks regardless of their production. Well, those days are over and with it the days are numbered for many of the men currently on the roster. Kelly and Wimbley aren’t alone. It’s just that their contracts make them stick out like Kenny Powers in Sunday service.