The Wild Card edition of the JBB Mailbag, answering questions from Twitter following the Oakland Raiders playoff loss to the Houston Texans.
The Oakland Raiders season is officially over. Following the loss in the Wild Card game, there were a lot of questions asked, so let’s jump right into it.
Note: Some of the questions were duplicates or similar to other questions that had already been asked. If you don’t see your question specifically responded to, that is likely the reason why.
My personal to-do list would begin with revamping the secondary. As it looks right now, defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. will be retained for the 2017 season, and this team cannot progress if they rank 24th, or worse, in passing defense again. So it starts there.
The 2017 free agency class is loaded with young and talented defensive backs. Three of my personal favorites are safety Tony Jefferson (Cardinals), and cornerbacks A.J. Bouye (Texans) and Dre Kirkpatrick (Bengals). In age, they are 25, 26, and 27, respectively.
Next, I would turn my attention to the front seven, with tunnel vision focus on the interior of the defensive line, and an inside linebacker. I have made my feelings as public as can be, the Oakland Raiders should do whatever it takes to land Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. In size, speed, and physicality, Foster is everything Al Davis dreamed about in a linebacker, and Raider.
Although as it pertains to the interior of the defensive line, I’d make sure Stacy McGee remained in silver and black. Critical to the defensive tackle’s future success is his health, and staying on the field. Assuming he returns, Oakland needs to utilize all resources to ensure McGee enters 2017 in excellent condition.
Lastly, yet not least, would be addressing the running back situation. I do not believe Latavius Murray is the long term solution for the Raiders. And this is where it gets interesting, because this free agency class of running backs isn’t the most appealing. So is the future of Oakland’s backfield currently preparing for the combine?
Only Al knows.
There is no chance that Derek Carr doesn’t aim to break the bank — and rightfully so. Carr’s camp doesn’t need to do anything else but cite the implosion of this team that took place following his injury against the Colts, and then sign “here, here, and here.”
To me, this is unintentionally a trick question. Mainly because, aside from Derek Carr, there aren’t a plethora of “key” contributors facing free agency.
Earlier in this column I cited one other Raider — Stacy McGee — I think it is vital the team retains. Yet aside from he and Carr, I am content letting the others walk; McGloin included.
This, all, under the assumption (and good faith) that Reggie McKenzie addresses the team’s weaknesses via the draft, free agency, and even a trade or two.
Signs seem to point at KNJ returning for the 2017 season. Whether or not he deserves that is an entirely different story. As I have stated many times before, there were good moments, stretches even, with the defensive unit in 2016. But when it was bad, there was no happy medium.
Given the hand being dealt, what one would hope is that, at minimum, Coach Del Rio and staff take a long look at implementing a new scheme. A scheme that better suits the strengths of our current personnel, and then add other pieces based on who best fits said scheme. Ideally.
Let’s, for the sake of this post, say all the i’s have been dotted, and all the t’s have been crossed. The moving trucks are headed to Nevada as we speak. I can’t see many scenarios where players are balking at the opportunity to not only play — but live — in Las Vegas. Especially including, although not limiting to, the younger free agents.
The potential move to Las Vegas can actually be used more so as a selling point than a hinderance. Which is certainly an intriguing wrinkle to insert into negotiations.
While I believe the draft is our best option in replenishing the interior of the defensive line, retaining talent such as Stacy McGee, and also a player like Denico Autry, are musts as well.
Although most importantly, to the future success of this team, the staff must continue to develop McGee and Autry, keep them healthy, and put them in the best position to showcase their skill sets.
And here’s something else of note, Raiders fans have been wishing for a Sheldon Richardson acquisition seemingly all season. With his career as a Jet essentially done, is acquiring a talent like Richardson — at the right price — something McKenzie explores?
Every franchise out there, every football team out there, works for this. In the game of football all it takes is one play — look no further than this organization — and the nucleus of your team is out for the remainder of the year. So the issue isn’t that team’s aren’t working to minimize the drop-off from starter to backup, rather, there’s not a booming reservoir of capable backup quarterbacks available.
Survey the league, it’s tough just to find 32 extraordinary starting quarterbacks, let alone stockpiling the reserves behind them. For Oakland, specifically, Connor Cook exhibited some capabilities that teams look for in a backup quarterback. And new offensive coordinator Todd Downing should be just as excited to continue working and developing Cook, as he is to continuing his working relationship with Derek Carr.