While many people obsess over the combine, a truer definition of a player lies where you can’t see. For the 2-3 Oakland Raiders, heart and guts are where they must look to regain their winning ways. When everyone crowned Oakland as the team to unseat the Patriots on their way to Minneapolis, people forgot that games still needed playing. Granted, on paper, the offense looks prolific and aspects of the defense could standout. Yet, the cold hard facts remains that the margin for error grows slimmer each week. Be that as it may, here’s what the Raiders could do to jumpstart their lethargic team.
Move Cooper Around
During Sunday’s game, RaiderNation watched a former first round pick disappear from the game. Amari Cooper isn’t clicking in this offense. Then again, this may not be totally his fault. On a couple of occasions, Cooper looked open. Yet, the ball never found him. No one is saying force feed him targets, but, attempt to use him in various spot. For example, the Steelers move Antonio Brown all over the line. Setting him in motion or dropping him in the slot provides him the means to excel. Cooper is the future of this receiving corps. However, he also needs to be the present as well.
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The defensive interior provides no push or ability to stop the run. The Baltimore Ravens walked into Oakland and manhandled the defensive tackles. Eddie Vanderdoes is a rookie that displays flashes of talent. Justin Ellis and Jihad Ward are what they are at this point. Treyvon Hester needs more reps to gauge where his talent level resides. Yet, they continue to receive snaps. Searching for replacements of infusion of skills could turn a dreadful rotation into an average point. Right now, mediocre would be a massive upgrade. Beggars can’t be choosers.
Additionally, linebacker became an issue for depth. Depending on the extent of Marquel Lee’s injury, Oakland could check on availability of substitutes. Yes, Perry Riley remains a free agent. If the Raiders still considered him, he’d be on his way back. On the other hand, options like Sean Spence exist. Spence, late of Indianapolis is young (27) and potentially hungry enough to compete for a job.
Shalom Means Hello
Reggie Nelson is 34 years old. That point continues to show itself when he arrives late to the play or out of position to grab game changing interceptions. This is no slight against Nelson. Father Time catches even the best NFL player. Enter rookie Shalom Luani. When Obi Melifonwu returns from injury later this season, Nelson will slowly transition out of the starting spot anyway. Why not insert Luani into more crucial situations. In reality, Reggie Nelson is playing his last year in Oakland. Yet, the team needs a spark in the secondary. At this point, what is the worst that could happen?
Given these points, the Raiders can repair this season on the fly. After five games and headed toward another division game, Oakland cannot afford to waste time on concepts that do not work.
Cowboys lose a heartbreaker to the Packers