If there is a God of football then he/she/it must have had the same reaction we all did when the Oakland Raiders went into the regular season with Kyle Boller as the backup plan. Like all of us the all-powerful being of pigskin must have taken one look at the roster and thought “really?” Unlike us mere mortals that John Madden on high surely wanted to teach the Raiders a valuable lesson.
It’s not coincidence that Boller’s first and only start of last season occurred during the same game in which Darren McFadden was lost for the season. It was a message meant to alert the Raiders of what happens when you go into battle without a Plan-B.
Now on the Boller front, lesson learned. Hue Jackson hit the panic button and even though he’s not around the signing of Matt Leinart indicates there is no desire to ever revisit the Boller disaster. It was obvious on his first pass attempt that the Raiders were headed for a top 10 pick if Boller was going to be the starter for the foreseeable future.
Of course Leinart isn’t exactly like having Steve Young or even Steve Bono carrying the clipboard. But he’s an unquestioned upgrade over the Boller debacle.
While the Raiders have done well avoid another QB disaster they’re now even thinner at a position of even greater risk.
Let’s not kid ourselves on this. The odds of Darren McFadden making it through an entire season without missing a game are longer than the odds of Kim Kardashian having a lasting relationship.
That being said, in the past there was minimal concern if McFadden was out of action. Not that the Raiders got by just fine without one of the league’s premier playmakers but having another back capable of eclipsing the 1,000 barrier in Michael Bush was a luxury.
With Bush gone and (gulp!) Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones being the next in line all of Raider Nation should be nervous. Goodson did show some promise when he got his chance in Carolina a couple years ago. However his performance wasn’t so amazing that it made the Panthers pause when it came time to re-up with DeAngelo Williams. Goodson didn’t even get a single carry last season.
As for Jones, he’s got all kinds of ability but he’s got a very long way to go until he can be a full-time NFL runner.
Even more alarming is Reggie McKenzie is banking on Owen Schmitt and Marcel Reece to help replace the production of Bush.
Look, I’m as enamored with Reece as the next member of Raider Nation but he’s not even in the same county as Bush in terms of running with the rock. Now on screens, yes, more of that for Reece please!
But Oakland’s thin line between playoff contending and draft prospecting in November isn’t limited to the health of Carson Palmer and Darren McFadden. Behind Jared Veldheer there isn’t anyone reliable enough to trust protecting Palmer’s blindside week-in and week-out. Any injury among the linebackers will create a practice squad all-star team solution, same goes for the cornerback position.
And we haven’t even mentioned what would happen if the season starts and the Raiders suddenly realize they have no viable options at tight end.
Yes, I’m aware that it’s too early to worry about issues that could be irrelevant in September. But I saw the Boller situation coming from a mile away last season and now I’m seeing something similar throughout the roster. McKenzie might not have much money to spend on acquiring depth but he’s got to make sure Dennis Allen has enough bodies to make it through camp. Any injuries to key players early in the season could doom the Raiders and what playoff chances they might have. The line the Raiders walk is that thin and should they slip there will be no safety net waiting.
Topics: Carson Palmer, Darren McFadden, DeAngelo Williams, Dennis Allen, Hue Jackson, Jared Veldheer, Kyle Boller, Marcel Reece, Matt Leinart, Michael Bush, Mike Goodson, Owen Schmitt, Reggie McKenzie, Steve Bono, Steve Young, Taiwan Jones