In a lot of ways you can’t help but feel for Tommy Kelly. Dude has been the target of constant scrutiny ever since Al Davis dropped a $50-million contract in his lap. So maybe I don’t feel all that bad about a guy collecting serious scratch to play a game he loves. Still, it must be frustrating to be playing as well as Kelly has in recent years with little to no fanfare in the way of Pro Bowl selections or even All-Pro talk.
Obviously it would help Kelly’s case if he played for a better defense. His inconsistent play is also a reason why those 14.5 sacks over the last two seasons have been more ignored than a Kyle Boller press conference.
In 2011 Kelly killed QBs racking 7.5 sacks while registering the first interception of his career. Please believe that if he put up the same numbers wearing a Steelers or Patriots jersey then Kelly would be talked up as an elite level DT.
Of course all roads lead directly back to that huge deal he inked four years ago. Kelly’s costly price tag had many wondering if the suddenly cash conscious Raiders would rip up his contract. In the end Reggie McKenzie did the sensible thing by keeping Kelly on board. Now it’s up to Dennis Allen to figure out the best way to get more out of Oakland’s talented D-line.
One of Kelly’s best qualities is how coachable he is. Whatever has been asked of Kelly over the years he’s done with no complaints. In recent years Kelly cut weight in order to become more mobile. Now he might need to pack on a few pounds if Allen is serious about using the former undrafted free agent as an occasional nose tackle.
No matter where Kelly lines up in 2012 you can count on him terrorizing opposing offenses. If the new approach employed by Allen helps lift the Raiders out of the defensive depths of the NFL then maybe Kelly will finally get his props.