Just one day away from the opening game of the year and questions are still abounding about a team that appears to be heading in the right direction, the Oakland Raiders. Many folks want to know why the Raiders think they are all set at receiver---why they passed on T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Others are still questioning the offensive line. In this edition of "Answering the Nations' questions" I'll tackle the issues the Raiders have on offense from one side of the line to the other.John Gorrell says that he expects Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy to be better this year but wonders if the Raiders have a chain mover on offense. He also wants to know why they didn't make a stronger play for T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
I think it's too late to worry about bringing in new faces. A lot of outsiders think this offense can be very productive and Hue Jackson claims it's set up to work to the strengths of the faces that are already present. The Raiders probably took a long look at T.J. as well Brandon Jones but ultimately decided they didn't want to go after either of those guys.
There is a reason why a team releases a guy who they owe $7 million too and Tom Cable has said several times that he doesn't want those kinds of players in his locker room. It's not that T.J. doesn't have the talent, but many in Seattle were questioning his team dedication and his locker room ethics. So I have a question for you Raider Nation, why can't Zach Miller be the chain mover this year?
Bryan Love asks: Do you think the Raiders are a playoff worthy team and why?
At this point for me, seeing is believing and I haven't seen anything yet. If you asked me to take a guess anyway, I'd say they do have a playoff caliber defense this year, but I'm not positive the offense can keep pace. The injury bug is biting them on offense with Chaz Schilens, Michael Bush, and it probably won't be long before you can add Darren McFadden to the list. Also, the offensive line is a big question mark at this point, especially left tackle Mario Henderson.
Henderson has absolutely got to do better against the speed rushers in this league. He can handle the power guys, but he does poorly against the fast ones. There are some things the Raiders can do about this, like having him do a lot of work against Trevor Scott in practice, or helping him out by chipping with a tight end or running back, but ultimately it will come down to how hard Henderson is willing to work day in and day out.
Kevin Webster says he thinks the Raiders would be better off if they moved Langston Walker to RG and Jared Veldheer to RT with Satele at center. Satele is horrible at center but would be serviceable with some help. Your thoughts Bret?
Just to be clear, this question was submitted prior to the move by the team to put Veldheer at center, but I want to address the real issue here which seems to be getting Cooper Carlisle off the field. One of the main reasons Carlisle was brought to Oakland was to be a part of the Zone Blocking Scheme. Now that Hue Jackson is in town and is introducing more Power Blocking Scheme, Carlisle's days could be numbered.
As an onlooker, you have got to like the potential of young Bruce Campbell. I've said it before; the guy looks like he was carved out of stone. He would be an exceptional guard with a little time under the tutelage of Tom Cable but the question here is do the Raiders have time to wait? They obviously believe they do because there were no offensive line moves made this offseason except for Daniel Loper, who the team also likes a lot, but really isn't even starting material for the Detroit Lions.
The Raiders are going to put their best five guys on the field and with the exceptions of Veldheer and Henderson and they have a lot of NFL experience in the other three starters, Carlisle included. If Gallery can stay healthy, this unit could be feasible but it's going to be a wait and see experiment. Wait and see if it's a high priority in the 2011 NFL draft where the Raiders may be without a first round draft pick.
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