The Oakland Raiders are bad. They started the season looking as though they would be a much better team than anyone could have imagined. They were competitive in games they should not have been and even pulled off an upset or two. But before long it became clear that the Raiders were nothing more than a sheep in wolves clothing.
After the Philadelphia Eagles exposed Jason Tarver’s defense by figuring out how to overcome his Mad Hatter-esque blitzing scheme, everything went down hill. The Raiders, who were getting lots of pressure on the quarterback before that game, ceased to effectively do so ever since. The Raiders have been getting burned big time on their blitzes but simply cannot get pressure on the quarterback without them. In turn, this has exposed the secondary for being one of the weaker units on the Raiders defense.
The linebacking group is the only one that really does not need to be upgraded, though contracts do need to be extended. On the defensive line, the Raiders have found some good role players, but aside from Lamarr Houston and maybe Vance Walker, they still need to consider upgrading every position on the line and MUST get a pass rushing specialist.
Long story short? The Raiders defense needs a lot of work.
Meanwhile on offense, while the Raiders offensive line has improved its play over the course of the year, that can be attributed more to having a great offensive line coach in Tony Sporano rather than to having talent on the offensive line. Aside from left tackle Jared Veldheer and center Stefan Wisniewski, general manager Reggie McKenzie either must or at least should consider upgrading every other position along the line.
The wide receivers group is lack luster to say the least. While Andre Holmes and Rod Streater have both shown signs of deserving to wear the Silver and Black for years to come, neither has proven himself to be a game changing number one receiver week in and week out. Beyond those two, there is barely a guy worth guaranteeing a roster spot.
The running back position seems solid, but clearly quarterback is a position that needs to be addressed and tight end, while having a good young option in Mychal Rivera, could definitely use some depth. After all, it would be nice if the Raiders could follow the recent trend and run some two tight end sets with two tight ends who pose a threat in the passing game.
Long story short? The Raiders offense needs a lot of work.
Now, as I noted above, quarterback is most certainly one of the positions on offense that the Raiders need to address. Neither Terrelle Pryor nor Matt McGloin has shown enough to deserve to be the outright starter going forward. There are a lot of Raiders fans who are convinced that one or the other is the future of the Raiders but every single one of those fans is living in a delusion of lowered expectations created by 11 seasons without a winning record.
When a team is bad for that long, fans often begin to see small accomplishments as big ones and think players who are above average are much better than they are. This is not to say that neither of these guys COULD end up being the quarterback of the future, but if you believe one of them has already earned that spot or proven themselves, then you clearly do not expect much from your quarterback,
So, given the fact that the quarterback position is far from being settled, why on Earth would I argue that the Raiders absolutely positively should not spend a high draft pick on a quarterback? The answer is simple. Look at the Seattle Seahawks.
As much as I dislike Cheat Carroll, you cannot argue with the results he is getting in Seattle. Much like Reggie McKenzie has done with the Raiders, Carroll tore the Seahawks to the ground and completely rebuilt. But rather than draft a quarterback high in the draft, or sign a big time free agent, the Seahawks used stop gap quarterbacks for two years while Carroll built up the rest of the team.
Because of this, when the Seahawks did go looking for their franchise quarterback, they were able to install Russell Wilson onto a team that was ready to win. Wilson did not have to struggle behind a bad offensive line as a rookie. He may not have had the best receiving threats at his disposal, but he definitely had options. He had a great running game and one of the league’s best defenses to take the pressure off of him
Who knows what Wilson would have done if he was put into the starting role on a bad team where he was constantly running for his life and trying to carry the entire team on his shoulders like many young quarterbacks are asked to do. Sure, some like Andrew Luck have been able to step up to the challenge. But more often than not, being drafted as a QB for a bad team leads to bad QB play.
The Raiders have two guys with a lot of potential to be starters, and who have already shown they are more than good enough to be stop gap options. Rather than spending a high draft pick on a high risk position like quarterback, the Raiders should add another decently priced option through free agency or later rounds in the draft to compete with McGloin and Pryor. Guys like former Raiders QBs Josh McCown and Jason Campbell have shown in relief time that they would be good options to bring in and step up the quarterback position without giving away the ship.
Hopefully, the future starting quarterback will emerge from one of the cheaper and less risky options next season. If, however, they do not, the Raiders will be looking at a stacked quarterback class in 2015 and will be able to insert a quarterback onto a much better team, thus giving whomever that quarterback is a much better opportunity to succeed.