August 4, 2011; Napa, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Mason Brodine (front) performs a drill during training camp at the Napa Valley Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

2012 A Year Of Experimenting For Raiders

Don’t you dare call 2012 a rebuilding year for the Oakland Raiders. Hard to call a team “rebuilding” when they’re paying franchise money to Carson Palmer and Richard Seymour not to mention hoping Darren McFadden will remain healthy enough to contend for an MVP award.

Also, since it only takes 8 wins to take the AFC West crown any team in the division looking to “rebuild” now is missing the boat.

So let’s not call the start of this Reggie McKenzie era a “rebuild”. Instead let’s just call this what it truly is – an experiment.

Why won’t Dennis Allen commit to the type of defense he’ll be playing? Because he’s trying to figure out what works best with his current personnel.

We keep hearing talk of playing multiple fronts, 3-4, 4-3, 5-2…whatever. All that means is Allen and his DC Jason Tarver are trying to sort out what works and what doesn’t. Yes, odds are the Raiders are embracing a more modern approach to defense by putting in an ever-changing scheme that will keep opposition honest. But let’s just call this what it is – spit balling.

Why was Greg Knapp hired when his offense isn’t a good fit for Carson Palmer? Because McKenzie isn’t sold on Palmer being the future.

Time to face reality. Everyone on the roster is auditioning this year. McKenzie didn’t make the move for Palmer so if he doesn’t like what he sees he’ll move on. Just ask Stanford Routt about that. Palmer did some amazing things last year. He also made some boneheaded mistakes that made JaMarcus Russell lower his head. Put it this way, elite level QBs don’t play the retirement card to get traded. Palmer has plenty to prove and Knapp’s offense will put him to the test. Odds are no matter the results McKenzie is going to be sending his scout out in search of a QB of the future.

Why did the Raiders ignore positions of need in the draft? This again goes back to the entire purpose of this season. McKenzie and Allen want to know what they’re working with.

As it stands the Raiders have absolutely no plan of attack as far as finding full-time cornerbacks beyond this season. With some highly regarded prospects at DB available in the draft Oakland instead opted for special teams contributors. With the team still exploring options to backup McFadden they again ignored some serious talent in the draft. Same can be said for the defensive line, tight end position and a few others. Basically, McKenzie wants to know what he’s got before he starts the serious shopping. Get used to that theme.

So let’s not call this a rebuild. In order to do that you’d have to tear down everything. Instead McKenzie has chosen to remodel a couple of rooms but isn’t yet going the route of bulldozing the entire plot of land.

It’s hard to know what to expect of the Raiders in 2012. Then again, it’s hard to know what to expect of every NFL team these days. That’s why Raider Nation will be right there, almost standing right next to McKenzie, evaluating every player on every snap. We’re all in the same boat. Our fandom won’t change but our expectations certainly will depending on what we see week-in and week-out during this experimental phase.

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Tags: Carson Palmer Darren McFadden Dennis Allen Greg Knapp JaMarcus Russell Jason Tarver Oakland Raiders Reggie McKenzie Richard Seymour Stanford Routt

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