The Raiders announced the hiring of a new offensive line coach Monday. It will be former Broncos' co-offensive line coach Bob Wylie. He is the latest coaching hire brought in to replace the departed coaching staff that was let go with former head coach Tom Cable. And with the new coaches comes a high likelihood of a new system and therefore some new players to institute it.
Wylie replaces former offensive line coach Jim Michalczik. The announcement comes just days after the Raiders announced the hiring of former Raider left guard Steve Wisniewski as assistant offensive line coach. He replaces former assistant Chris Morgan. Both of the former coaches worked closely with Tom Cable in the zone blocking scheme, something Al Davis didn't seem to care for as evidenced by his statement during the Hue Jackson hiring press conference: "(Cable) is a zone blocking purist and I'm not a zone blocking purist. And we switched already this year."
Adding to the idea that there could be new personnel along the line is the statement Hue Jackson made when the Raiders hired Wylie to coach the line, that Wylie will really help the Raiders as they "move forward in assembling a really good offensive line." The key word is "assembling" which suggests there will be a lot of new pieces brought in to rebuild the line.
The two new coaches do not have zone blocking backgrounds. In fact, Wylie was brought into the fold for the Broncos with the very task of switching them out of the scheme after the Broncos ran it for so many years under former coach Mike Shanahan. Now Wylie has been given the same job with the Raiders.
Wisniewski was a Raider his entire career as a power blocking left guard. He had a Hall of Fame caliber career that included eight Pro Bowl invitations and two All Pro selections over 13 years in which he missed just two starts.
Al Saunders, the Raiders new offensive coordinator, has also long been seen as a more traditional, drop back, power blocking offensive mind. His offenses have been leading the league in passing yards since he was a coordinator and assistant in the early 80's under Don "Air" Coryell.
What all of this means is that the Raiders may have to make some sweeping changes along the offensive line. Right now the Raider linemen are designed for the zone blocking scheme -- the interior lineman in particular.
The trio of Robert Gallery, Samson Satele, and Cooper Carlisle had great years last season but they could all be leaving Oakland before next season, or at very least, demoted.
Satele is the most obvious case of a player who starts because of his fit in the zone blocking scheme. He has always been seen as undersized for an NFL lineman. He couldn't hold up in Miami because he was getting overpowered by bigger nose tackles. He really came into his own last season but that is because he is athletic and aggressive, which is what the ZBS calls for. He is set to become a free agent and it seems highly likely the team may let him walk.
If Satele is indeed not brought back, or perhaps even if he is brought back, the team will ramp up its efforts to replace him whether it be immediately or down the road. The most talked about possible replacement is Penn State center, Stefen Wisniewski. And with his uncle Steve Wisniewski as a Raider legend and now part of the Raiders' staff, that possibility is even greater.
Robert Gallery is also a free-agent-to-be and with his strong play at left guard for the Raiders for the past few years he could be in high demand on the free agent market. He was very fond of Coach Cable and upon Cable's release, punter Shane Lechler mentioned Gallery as a player who may opt to move on due to disapproval of the coaching change. It seems likely then that Gallery may want to follow Cable to Seattle although it is far from certain. Gallery is the most likely of the three interior linemen to be able to perform as well in the power blocking scheme as the zone. If he leaves, the Raiders will have some big shoes to fill and the need for a replacement will be an extremely high priority. Logan Mankins of the Patriots is the guy that comes to mind.
Cooper Carlisle is a wildcard because he is under contract and his being unseated will depend largely on the development of last year's round four pick, Bruce Campbell. He struggled mightily in picking up the zone blocking but is seen by some as more of a power blocking lineman. If this turns out to be true, that could signal either the releasing of Carlisle or a benching.
Right tackle is a position the Raiders were most likely looking to upgrade regardless of scheme. Former left tackle Mario Henderson is being groomed to replace Langston Walker. Henderson was a standout right tackle at Florida State prior to being moved to the other side by the Raiders. Khalif Barnes is also on the roster although both he and Henderson are set to become free agents so it is still up in the air if either one will be a Raider next season.
The only player who is expected to return to starting duties for the Raider offensive line is last year's rookie left tackle Jared Veldheer. He didn't start his first game at the position until week seven of last season.
This means that the Raiders could very well field an entirely different starting front five than they did to begin last season. The question then becomes how they intend to find four new starters who will be equal or better than last year's or previous years. It could mean a lot of free agent money shelled out and quite a few draft picks spent as well. But without a first round pick, the Raiders will have to get creative. It appears at this point they were able to find a gem in Veldheer in the third round.
Regardless of how it shakes out, the Oline is now a top priority this offseason and the Raiders are going to have to work some magic if they hope to field a solid group next season. This will get interesting.
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ALSO SEE: 2011 NFL Mock Draft: Rounds 1-2
I really think Hue Jackson and Al Davis are doing the right thing by getting the Raiders out of the zone blocking system for the offensive line. Even though the offensive line improved slightly during the 2010 campaign, the oline was still very undisciplined, giving up way to many penalties and allowing way to many hits on the quarterback. Resigning Robert Gallery is a huge priority, and it would be first on my list. His experience and toughness will be needed in the new scheme, and the Raiders have invested way to much time and effort into making him a solid player, to just let him go. I would definitely make a serious run at Mankins and Gaither in the offseason as well, as these two guys would fit in perfect in the power blocking system, and their presence on our oline would elevate it to the next level. I agree with Nilbymouth about the question mark concerning Wisniewski in the new scheme, but if he is available by the time we pick, because of his pedigree and the need for quality offensive linemen, the Raiders should pick him up, unless of course Cam Newton is available, which Levi and I have discussed in in his mock draft predictions.
As much as I would love for us to draft Wisniewski if we are able to, I am not sure he would do much better than Satele in the Power Blocking scheme. They are both the same height and Wisniewski is listed as only 6 pounds heavier.
@nilbymouth yea i hope they are wrong as well. I really think he's our next Center. Unless of course they go after Kalil .... who may be a FA .. I'd take him over Wisniewski for sure. we'll see.
@DARKKUSH I don't watch much college football but from what mates have told me that live off college football they have seemed to think that Wisniewski is better suited to the ZBS. I hope they are wrong because I would love to see a Wisniewski back in the Silver and Black.
you couldn't be more wrong man. Many Power blocking Centers are smallish. It's Satele's LACK OF TALENT is what gets him moved so easily by big NT's. Wiz Kid Jr is MEAN and has a natural talent in the run game. Plus he is very intelligent, something Satele also lacks IMO. Satele is hardly a backup anywhere in this league... and belongs in the UFL. I'll take him as a backup though. we could use him there for sure. that's about it.
I'm also reading that Gaither most likely won't get a whole lot of money from BAL seeing as he has a back injury. Seriously, SIGN THE MAN to a 2 year deal and load the contract with incentives. worth up to 18 MILLION like Kwame Harris(Cable experimentation gone bad from day 1) ... so they wouldn't have to dish out a lot of money for him.
not to mention this vertical offense can't work w/o AN ELITE PASS BLOCKING LT ... and that's FACT my friend. can Veldheer do that? do we have time to findout and just cross our fingers? HELL NO.
well we thought the same thing of Henderson at LT when he played "well" at the end of 08 right? in 09 he stunk it up bigtime ... i even asked the man IN PERSON if he was comfortable on the leftside... he said 'most definitely' ... well... now he's being moved to RT, where we all suggested. I hope he tears it up at RT, i just don't see it happening. Clabo on the rightside with Henderson backing him up i'd take in a heartbeat!
I just hope Veldheer doesn't turn into that same false hope. Hey... they were both 3rd rounders ... and Veldheer gave up MORE SACKS in LESS GAMES than Henderson did in 09 ... which was basically his first starting year ...
Trusting a 2nd year guy, with good talent no doubt, to Campbells' blindside isn't something to do right now if this team wants to win now. If we entrust this man to DRAMATICALLY IMPROVE over a short amount of time, we will be seeing Kyle Boller or some rookie 6th round pick QB possibly under center. JC is a tough QB, and i think his grit is getting even stronger these days, but he can't last forever while he's getting smashed into the ground by Hali because Veldheer aloud him to get 4+ sacks in 2 games and a sh!t load of pressures/hits ...
WE NEED A PROVEN LT RIGHT NOW!!!
oh snap... i got Dahl mixed up with Kalil for some reason. He's going to be a FA also isn't he? I'd take him at C over Wisniewski!!! haha! well, get him and draft Wisniewski... say buh-bye Cooper!!
you d@mn skippy nilby... Dahl would be fantastic!! i don't think CAR will let him go though.. OT's like him are hard to come by.
Clabo would be awesome. can ATL keep both him and his right-hand man? we'll see.
EIther way, I can guarrantee you Hue will be watching for these guys, and be the birdie in Al's ear... "whoever you need Hue, i want to win now!" ... he did it before with Walker, Hall, Kelly and KWAME HARRIS!!!! WTF not any of these BADASS lineman coming into FA?
Did my last comments on your mock draft article inspire you?
the word assembling coming out of Hue's mouth weren't empty words.... he MEANS assembling an Oline that best fits his new scheme...
Al loves to do things backwards. re-build from the outside-in ... so if that trend continues, it's the Oline that will get the attention this year. last year it was DT, the year before it was WR's, RBs in 08(we had "3 headed monster")... maybe that's just speculation ... but it's just been a while since the Raider's first pick was OL ... Grove was the last one right? it's time we get a C that Campbell can build chemistry with in Wisniewski.
Yea man, Satele and Carlisle will be good backups. they've played in power blocking schemes... including together on this team, so they become dependable 2nd stringers should one of our new studs get hurt.
If a lot of players walk, you better believe Mankins is coming. you HAVE TO PAY THAT MAN!! don't let the Fins steal them away from us. they've spent all kinds of cash the last couple of seasons on good players like Dansby and Marshall... don't let Mankins go to them Al!!! show him the LOOT!!
Keep drafting young and talented lineman... there's plenty of good prospects in this upcoming draft. i wouldn't care if our first 3 picks were OL ... we could definitely find some gems, as we have been with late picks in drafts the past few years.
@DARKKUSH From the way Hue speaks of Veldheer, he is in the Raiders plans at LT for the foreseeable future. I don't expect them to be shelling out big bucks on a left tackle. And moving Veldheer to right tackle is not in the plans either.
what are the chances that Hue and Saunders have contacted Gaither?! Even with the disk problem, does he really think he has to take less money to play RT, a position he wasn't meant for...?! He has to know he's a badass and belongs on a team that's going to pay him and expect GREATNESS out of as our cornerstone LT
@DARKKUSH Oh and Grove was a 2nd round pick the same year the Raiders took Gallery in the first round.
@DARKKUSH No, Kush but we were thinking the same thing at the same time apparently. I responded to your comment on the last post because I read it immediately after posting this and thought it pretty funny you said almost the EXACT thing I did. You even used the word "overhaul".