On this edition of four down territory, we'll talk about the Raiders losing their special teams ace, Hiram Eugene. Then we'll talk about the deepest position on the team this year and whether or not the Raiders can overcome the penalty bug. And finally we'll cap it off with some talk about depth at cornerback and whether the Raiders are winners or losers in their cornerback drafting over the last two seasons.
1st Down – What does the loss of Hiram Eugene really mean for the Raiders?
BA's Take: It's a big blow to the special teams unit because Hiram Eugene basically replaced Isaiah Ekejiuba, who used to be their second special teams ace to Sam Williams. But with the addition of Rock Cartwright last season, they actually had three guys nearly strictly for special teams. Some say that he is Michael Huff's back-up, but Stevie Brown has effectively replaced him as the second free safety at this point. In the long run, the Raiders have a lot of guys who can contribute to special teams, and putting Eugene on IR gives a new guy a shot at making the roster and could save the Raiders about $2 million in cap space this year.
Dizzle's Take: At the safety position, Eugene was not a big factor. He was re-signed this offseason and it was thought the team would lose Michael Huff. But Huff is back, Stevie Brown is listed as the second string free safety. Eugene's worth is on special teams. He is an asset in the return and coverage teams, something the team has put a premium on in recent years. His loss will be felt there but with last year's addition of players like Travis Goethel, Stevie Brown, and Rock Cartwright, they shouldn't suffer too much.
2nd Down – Is wide receiver the deepest position on the Raider roster right now?
Dizzle's Take: If it isn't, it is tied with the defensive tackle position. The defensive tackles have more talent top to bottom but the receivers are much younger. I would have said the safeties were the deepest until the team lost Hiram Eugene for the season.
BA's Take: It's hard to make an argument against it, but you could also go halfback here with McFadden, Bush, Cartwright, Bennett, Rankin, and rookie Taiwan Jones. It's definitely not cornerback, they proved that last year and in the first game this preseason. The quarterbacks looked good, but wide receiver is going to be that position this year where it will be hard to determine the final depth chart. Several of them serve as returners also, so that's going to be a factor. Injuries could also come into play.
3rd Down – Hue Jackson will likely keep the referees at training camp for the entire three week period. Can the Raiders effectively resolve the penalty issue?
BA's Take: Well, for one thing, the NFL referees are generally not kind when it comes to penalizing the Raiders. But having ten in the first preseason game that went for 84 yards actually isn't bad compared to their average yardage for ten penalties last season. Like Coach Jackson pointed out, it was basically a handful of guys out there. They can work on it, but to have it completely not be an issue is almost impossible. They are going to have to overcome some of this issue.
Dizzle's Take: The referees in practice don't change much, if anything. Hue has put an emphasis on penalties all camp thus far and they still had 10 penalties in their preseason opener. Excusing false starting as if it is somehow a lesser penalty just doesn't cut it. A penalty's a penalty's a penalty. This team has been destroyed by costly false starts for years, and they always seem to happen at the worst times. If the team is in scoring position, the line knows they must get a good jump so they get nervous and flinch. That can turn a third and short into a third and long, change from going for it on fourth and one to punting the ball away. Or in the case of the game last week, turn a field goal attempt into a punt. If false starts were so easily fixable, how is it that this team has been plagued by them for so long? I don't see much change in penalties for the Raiders. At least not this season.
4th Down – If you end up with one good corner out of the four over the last two drafts, is that a win?
Dizzle's Take: Yes. Because they were all mid to low round picks. Most teams, the Raiders included, would like to have those odds on first and second round corners. Cases in point since 2002: Phillip Buchanon (first round), Nnamdi Asomugha (first round), Fabian Washington (first round), Stanford Routt (second round), and John Bowie (fourth round). That is one great corner and one good corner out of five corners drafted in the previous eight drafts -- four of whom were in the top two rounds. Not great odds for their draft positions. Getting one good corner of four corners drafted between rounds three and seven would absolutely be a win.
BA's Take: I can't say that it is because there have been so many of them. If undrafted rookies count in this, I'll take one of the drafted guys and the undrafted rookie from SMU, Sterling Moore. That to me would be a win. But if they only take one guy out of the last two draft classes, they are at a loss with only three total cornerbacks. That just will not work, quite frankly. I just can't wrap my mind around this being a winning situation. They need more than one guy to pan out for them. Honestly, of the group they drafted, I like Chimdi Chekwa to be the most physical of them. It's just too bad he has missed so much time and a game already.
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If they are tryin to get rid of penalties, Barnes wont be starting. It will be interestign to see if they bring back Walker with Eugene headed to IR now,
The only arguement I have against wide receiver being the deepest position on the Raiders is DHB. If he is forced into the starting lineup by Al Davis, then wide receiver has to be looked at as a liability, not a strength. A position can only be considered strong if the best players are allowed to start and compete. So far, we do not know if this is going to be allowed to happen at wide receiver, especially considering how Al Davis has protected and favored DHB......
If Barnes gets SAT down during the regular season, this team will be penalized less, even with the green horns out there. the problem with holds and false starts comes down to CONFIDENCE. when you're not as talented, your confidence lowers, thus enabling you to want to get a jump on your guy or hooking him when he gets a jump on you to get to your QB ... it's been THE LACK OF TALENT in that unit that's been the main issue over the last decade. i'm not ecstatic about our current projected OL, but I think they have the most talent there than they've had in years ... if that means much? I still think it looks like this when week 1 rolls around: Veldheer-Heyer-Wis(he will win)-B. Campbell-Barksdale ... not too stoked on it... but they're young and hungry. hopefully it translates into wins.
@DARKKUSH This is what I see in week one lineup for the offensive line.
I don't know why everybody thinks that Carlisle won't start, because he's older? Carlisle is the best they have at this time and it's he's job to lose. Wiz ain't winning that center spot as of right now but he will play guard until he is ready to play center.
We will find out in 2 weeks when the Raiders play the Saints who is playing where.
@Philip Fitch I would like to see Campbell being able to snag a starting spot if he's healthy and ready. we know he can beast it up and take on any DL in the league ... its the whole leverage thing since he's very tall... he had problems last preseason with that... it really does depend on his development thus far if he's going to take a starting spot from Carlisle. you're right, i don't see it happening. Carlisle will start.
as far as LG, yea Wis could play there, but if Heyer can successfully switch to that position, he has a lot of experience in this league. if stopping DE's were his only problem, then moving inside could work wonders for him. he's a huge, powerful guy. exactly what Hue wants for this power scheme we're running now.
you're right, in 2 weeks we should see what's happening.
@Philip Fitch @DARKKUSH I also think Carlisle will probably get the nod at RG over Campbell. But I'd like to see Campbell get a shot somewhere on the right side of that line in pre season. All that strength and speed coming off the ball he could be a run mashing machine there. Got to get that guy involved somehow. They need to get him on the field to really see what he can do.