Well, well, well. It looks as if our tour through the AFC West has caught the attention of at least some of our adversaries. Our friends at Predominantly Orange are onto our little spy mission. If you want a good laugh, check out the article and comments about Arrowhead Addicts raiding their site.
This week, we’re on the last tour stop as we turn to our most hated rival, the Oakland Raiders and their Fansided.com site, Just Blog Baby. I love this site – good writing, good fans – but most importantly, I love it for its name: an homage to legendary Raiders owner Al Davis. Davis has, arguably, been as good to the Chiefs as to the Raiders, given his history of poor player personnel decisions, best summarized in Joel Corry’s illuminating piece. Here’s a quick summary:
- 2004: Traded the seventh overall pick in the first round in 2005 to the Minnesota Vikings for wide receiver Randy Moss, who stayed all of two seasons.
- 2008: Traded a second round pick in 2008 and a fifth rounder in 2009 to the Atlanta Falcons for cornerback DeAngelo Hall. Hall lasted eight games with the Raiders.
- 2009: Traded a first round pick in 2011 to the New England Patriots for defensive end Richard Seymour. Seymour has given the Raiders four very good seasons, but now the Raiders are reportedly trying to void his contract and Seymour is shopping around for another team.
- 2010: Traded a third round pick in 2010 to the Cleveland Browns for Kamerion Wimbley. Wimbley lasted just two years.
- 2010: Traded for quarterback Jason Campbell from the Redskins for a 2012 fourth round pick. Campbell lasted two years as well.
- 2012: Traded for quarterback Carson Palmer for a first rounder in 2012 and a second rounder in 2013. Palmer lasted a year-and-a-half, traded to the Arizona Cardinals earlier this year.
The players that other teams got with those draft picks were:
- 2005: Troy Williamson, WR, Minnesota Vikings, first round
- 2008: Curtis Lofton, LB, Atlanta Falcons, second round
- 2009: William Middleton, DB, Atlanta Falcons, fifth round
- 2011: first: Nate Solder, OT, New England Patriots, first round
- 2010: Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns, third round
- 2012: Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins, fourth round
- 2012: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Cincinnati Bengals, first round
- 2012: Devon Still, DT, Cincinnati Bengals, second round
Lofton, Solder, Cousins and Kirkpatrick alone make these deals painful for the Raiders, particularly if you consider whom the Raiders could have drafted based on need for those draft slots.
To make matters worse, here are the past seven, first round draft picks for the Raiders:
- 2007: Jamarcus Russell, first overall pick
- 2008: 4, Darren McFadden, fourth overall pick
- 2009: 7, Darrius Heyward-Bey, seventh overall pick
- 2010: 8, Rolando McClain, eighth overall pick
- 2011: none
- 2012: none
- 2013: DJ Hayden, CB
Just McFadden and Hayden are on the team now.
But here’s the thing: despite this Commitment to Mediocrity, something very worrisome is happening with the Raiders. That’s why this week’s post was the most difficult one for me to write. Here are my key takeaways from my week in the Black Hole:
Acknowledging the problem is always the first step: Just Blog Baby’s writers have a critique, and a strong one too. Here’s one sample:
"The Oakland Raiders have spent the last decade as a joke. From Chris Berman to Daniel Tosh its all laughs when the silver and black are being talked about. Even so-called NFL experts have bought into the idea that the Raiders are a toilet bowl team. NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison ranks the Oakland Raiders at number 31 on his power ranking’s list. That is right Raider Nation. Only able to out contend the Jacksonville Jaguars. Between Jamarcus Russell and Al’s antique projector the Raiders don’t exactly look professional."
It’s not just the writers however. The Raiders have a new philosophy, and it’s based in acknowledging the mistakes of the past. It’s clear as day that the Raiders aren’t going to be competing for a division title this year, but they are moving quickly away from their horrendous past.
There’s a new sheriff in town, and his name is Reggie: New General Manager Reggie McKenzie has been a master of personnel decisions since being hired last year from the Green Bay Packers. He promptly fired disastrous head coach Hue Jackson and brought in Dennis Allen. In this year’s draft, McKenzie traded down from the third overall pick and may have found up to four new starters this year in cornerback D.J. Hayden, second round right tackle Menelick Watson, third round linebacker Sio Moore and double sixth round tight ends Nick Kasa and Mychal Rivera. McKenzie also picked up quarterback Tyler Wilson from Arkansas, who may be the starter of the future for the Raiders. Suffice it to say that McKenzie knows what he’s doing.
Goats or heroes: The Raiders have at least two players who can be the injured goat or the hero this year: running back Darren McFadden and wide receiver and returner Jacoby Ford. Both are coming off of injuries from 2012. The Chiefs know both players well. In his rookie year in 2010, Ford racked up 148 yards on six catches against the Chiefs, with a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. McFadden scored his first professional touchdown against the Chiefs and has a career 4.4 yards per carry average against Kansas City. If both are back, they will offer much needed tools to new quarterback Matt Flynn. If one or both continue their injured ways, the Raiders will have two big holes in their offense. Ford in particular is enough of a concern that the Raiders picked up returner Joshua Cribbs in free agency.
Veteran Leadership: Along with McKenzie’s rash of new, young players, he’s added smart veteran leadership in defensive back Charles Woodson, Cribbs, Flynn and punter Chris Kluwe. All are stand-up guys who know how to win. McKenzie wants tone-setters in the locker room to change the culture from the Raiders of past. He’s got a solid core to build around.
Offensive line gaps: Perhaps the biggest gap to exploit this year will be the Raiders’ offensive line, which may be the difference maker in the Chiefs’ series with Oakland this year. Just Blog Baby provides a great status update:
"[Left tackle] Jared Veldheer…is without a doubt the leader of this unit. Veldheer will only continue to get better as seen by his weight room progress in the off-season. Stefen Wisnewski looks to reprise his starting role at center. He has proved to be a very capable starter, and alongside Veldheer will be an anchor in Oakland for years to come. Rookie Menelik Watson will be relied on to start in 2013. His raw potential will be like clay for Dennis Allen to sculpt. The kid shows the potential to one day outplay the number one overall pick, Eric Fisher. His play will determine whether Oakland’s offense will be good or great. With Watson as an anchor at the right tackle position, the two guard spots remain open for competition. Tony Bergstrom and Lucas Nix look to take over for the older generation of guards. Said generation being Khalif Barnes and Mike Brisiel. Any of these four players could find themselves starting."
In classic Raider fashion, the hubris comes through, which is always their ultimate undoing – Menelik Watson will be better than our own Eric Fisher?!!! It gets worse though. Veldheer started his career at center and is fairly new to left tackle. He and Watson will have trouble against Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Even bigger gaps are in the guard position, which our defensive line of Dontari Poe, Tyson Jackson and DeVito should be able to take exploit play after play. Matt Flynn is going to running for his life against our more aggressive defensive front.
In summary Addicts, the Chiefs match up well against the Raiders this year, particularly in the match-up of our defensive line and linebackers versus their front five. But McKenzie has our perennial foes moving in the fight direction, which doesn’t bode well for the future. Addicts, what do you think – can we sweep the Raiders this year?!!!