Apr 23, 2013; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie speaks at press conference at the Raiders team headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Raiders: Building a Franchise to last for decades

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Reports are out there that suggest that Free Agent TE Jermichael Finley is a viable option for the Oakland Raiders.  Is he?  Although I’m not totally sold on Finley, he could be Training Camp competition for a very young TE corps.  He has ties to General Manager Reggie McKenzie, and McKenzie has shown interest in players he recruited when he was with Green Bay (i.e., Matt Flynn, C.J. Wilson, Charles Woodson, James Jones, etc…).  Fact is, McKenzie is trying to build this Oakland Raiders Franchise to last for decades, and he’s not going to hit on every player, but he still has to try with the assets he’s been given.

Now, in order to build a successful team to last for years to come some believe that a Franchise QB is necessary.  I don’t believe the Franchise QB is the first piece to begin building with.  I believe a stout and consistent Offensive Line and an aggressive blood thirsty Defensive Line is the place to start.  The trenches, the exact place where the backbone of football begins.

Without an OL, there are no passing or running plays.  There’s no one to protect the QB’s blind side, and there’s no pulling guards to plug gaps.  Plain and simple, there is no offense without an OL.  Without a DL, there’s no one to plug up holes to stop RB’s from going up the middle, and there’s no one to rush the QB and pressure him into throwing early or get a sack.  Offenses would eat up the defense without a DL.  Oh, wait, that’s been happening in Oakland now for the last few years (I’m being nice, actually the last 10-12 years).

So what has McKenzie been doing for the last year, building up the trenches.  McKenzie understands that football begins and ends in the trenches, and he has been making the Oakland Raiders trenches better.  Through Free Agency this year, McKenzie added pieces to both the Offensive and Defensive Lines that will ultimately give back the “Mean and Nasty” trenches mentality to the Raiders.  Long gone are the days of Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, Jim Otto, Don Mosebar, Ben Davidson, Howie Long, Lyle Alzado, and Chester McGlockton.  These are the types of players McKenzie is trying to get back.

I believe that McKenzie is on the right path, and he has also added youth to learn from the “Mean and Nasty” mentality veterans.  Justin Tuck brings that black and blue hitting/rushing mentality from the Bronx (New York).  Along with him, the other pieces begin to make sense with LaMarr Woodley, Antonio Smith, Pat Sims, Justin Ellis, Stacy McGee, Jack Crawford, Shelby Harris, Ryan Robinson, etc…

Plus, being a LB for the Oakland Raiders himself, McKenzie realizes how important it is to have stud LB’s to back up the DL, and he has added those pieces in Nick Roach, Kevin Burnett, Sio Moore, Khalil Mack, and I’ll even place Kaluka Maiava in that boat as well.

Now on the Offensive side of the ball, McKenzie plugged away and grabbed Donald Penn, Kevin Boothe, Austin Howard, and Gabe Jackson to go along with the pieces already on the team.  Stephen Wisniewski is the man, and Menelik Watson, if healthy, should become an elite OL.  The steady piece to the OL has been Khalif Barnes, and he could fill in should one of the others go down.  Plus, there is a lot of depth behind these players at each position.

What are the makings of a great team?  Youth, Size, Speed, Intelligence, Depth, Veteran Leadership, Good Coaching, and a great Fan Base.  Well Raider Nation, we’ve had the great Fan Base covered for the lifetime of the Oakland Raiders, but we haven’t had the others since 2003.  Now, the Raiders have all the bases covered.  Yes, I will accept the Good Coaching Staff, because I believe in this organization and the men that are in place to keep it going.  This includes Head Coach Dennis Allen.  He still has much to prove, but I believe he can get it done.

My point in all of this rigmarole is that without the trenches, it doesn’t matter who the QB’s, WR’s, RB’s, TE’s, DB’s, or LB’s are.  So, whether or not the Raiders get Jermichael Finley or not means nothing to me.  I think the Raiders have really good TE’s in-house, and there’s no need for another one.  However, if he was picked up by the Raiders, I would want to see production.  Granted, he would be cheap, and maybe that makes him valuable to McKenzie.  I don’t really know.

I’ve also heard that there aren’t any #1 WR’s or TE’s on the Raiders roster right now.  To that I say phooey!  Last year, Rod Streater had 60 receptions for 888 yards and 4 touchdowns with two different QB’s and a faulty OL.  Not to mention that Streater was open a whole heck of a lot more, and the QB’s (Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor) both missed him.  Go check the tape, you’ll see it.  Cases can be made for Denarius Moore (If his heart is in it), Andre Holmes (Late bloomer), and James Jones for the #1 receiver spot as well, but I believe that spot belongs to Streater.

I also think Mychal Rivera is the #1 TE with Nick Kasa right behind him.  Rivera came on late in the season with his 38 receptions for 407 yards and 4 touchdowns, again with two different QB’s and a faulty OL.  The new Rookie TE’s that came in (Jake Murphy and Scott Simonson) should unseat David Ausberry (Struggles to stay healthy and consistent).  This leaves Brian Leonhardt fighting for a roster spot again, but he has had flashes of being a good TE option.  The addition of Finley would definitely shake things up a bit.

This year, 2014, the Raiders have a #1 QB, a position that hasn’t been held since Carson Palmer left.  Though, I don’t know that he was the answer in the first place.  Now, the answer is Matt Schaub with Derek Carr waiting to take his place as the #1 in the future, but you can’t count Matt McGloin out just yet.  He has been fighting to be #1 since his college days, and he didn’t disappoint then.  McGloin showed some flashes last year, but he never took the reigns fully.  So Schaub it is.

This is how you build a franchise that will last for decades to come.  McKenzie’s plan to move the Raiders out of football mediocrity is in full effect, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this team.  Let’s go Raiders!

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Tags: Art Shell Ben Davidson Dennis Allen Gene Upshaw Howie Long Jermichael Finley Mychal Rivera Oakland Raiders Raider Nation Reggie McKenzie Rod Streater

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