Thursday, February 22, 2007

Time will tell...

So Jerry Porter is switching his number and attitude to Tim Brown's. When Porter came to the Raiders as a receiver with great potential, Tim Brown took Porter under his wing and taught Porter how to control his receiving patterns and his attitude. Make no mistake, the attitude fell apart in 2006. It is not the prerogative of a receiver to dictate to the owner, the head coach, or the receivers coach what offense will be run. In February of 2006, those who make such decisions decided on a plan. It was Jerry Porter's job to carry out his part of that plan to the best of his ability. There is little question in my mind that had Porter done his job, and Moss his, the Raiders would have had about four more wins under their belts.

Still, we are likely better off for the way things have turned out. With those four more wins, we'd still have Art Shell and a very long road in front of us. While I have great respect for Shell as a player and a coach, his greatest weakness is his lack of anticipation for how players, not familiar with him, will perceive him. If Shell had started the 2006 season earlier, and made more of an effort to sell himself and his philosophy to his players, there might have been far less communication breakdowns in Raider ranks. If Kiffin does nothing else, he has proved this a little more every day since his hiring. Claims that the prevailing problem was Al Davis' cluelessness should be completely shattered. Davis spoke directly to this exact issue the day of Kiffin's introductory press conference.

According to Tim Brown, Porter's mentor and confidant, Kiffin has told Brown that the Kiffin offense is based primarily on Jon Gruden's offense. Again shattering perceptions on how Al Davis felt about Jon Gruden and about what we think Davis prefers to see in a Raider offense. I assure you that the one primary quality of an offense for Al Davis must be that it is a winning offense. "Just win, baby!" Do whatever it takes. Still, Kiffin appears to have added his own wrinkles. Gruden felt that on every long pass, three things can happen and two of them are bad. Kiffin loves to throw in the deep shot in order to spread the defense and to keep them off balance. Because of this, Kiffin requires deep ball receivers - guys with the speed to get past the corners, the height to out jump them, the hands to pull the ball in, and the muscle to hang on to it. Outside of Doug Gabriel, Porter and Moss are really the only receivers with such credentials.

It speaks well of Lane Kiffin that (at least evident from Porter's brief statement in a press release) Porter promises a new start, and a new attitude. Porter claims to look forward to putting the past behind. Significantly, Porter has chosen Tim Brown's number for his own. Porter indicates (and Brown backs it up) that Porter's intent is to emulate Brown in team leadership and work ethic. Is Porter capable of such a conversion? Time will tell.

As for Moss? Tim Brown seems to feel that Moss' lack of production in 2006 was more a matter of ability than attitude. Brown is of the opinion, based on information he gets from players who still play against Moss, that Moss has lost a step - that his skills are declining rapidly. On this, I disagree with Brown. It would be one thing were it evident that Moss was trying but failing. What I noticed was his distinct lack of effort. He didn't fight for the ball (one of his career trademarks), and frequently didn't stretch out to make catches. Frequently he stood by while balls were being picked off by the defender right in front of him. My opinion of Moss is that once it became evident that the Raiders were not going to be competitive, Moss took the rest of the season off.

Between Moss and Porter, I prefer Porter's circumstances to Moss'. Porter was mainly not on the field, but Moss was a starter with a team (a "brotherhood of men," as Mr. Sapp once put it) relying on his efforts. While Porter may have disrespected the Raider's coach and their fans, Moss disrespected the coaches, the fans, and his teammates. He hung his team members out to dry with his lack of effort. As a player, I would be reluctant to have Moss come back on the field. As a fan, I would be reluctant to pay for a ticket to watch him. As a coach, I would be reluctant to depend on Moss to carry out my design. But according to an ESPN radio interview with Kiffin, Moss is also now on board and looks forward to starting a new season. Earlier, at the Senior Bowl, we heard that Kiffin had approached Moss and had been rebuffed. Has the situation changed? Were the rumors from the Senior Bowl ever true? Or is Kiffin simply trying to boost Moss' trade value? Judging by the words I've heard come out of Kiffin's mouth, that his players will be on board and that they will "play happy," I have to lean in the direction that Kiffin has been able to sell Moss on the new program. Are Moss' low 2006 numbers a sign of a poor attitude, or a sign of declining skills. Time will tell.

If neither Porter or Moss are now "trade bate," our draft structure appears to have evolved. If we keep Moss, we no longer have the use of him to increase draft choices or to use him to move up the ladder in any particular round. This makes the successful use of our #1 pick somewhat more critical. Trade the first pick? Pull the trigger on Jamarcus Russell, a run stuffer on the defensive line, a running back, an O-line stud? My choice would still be to pull the trigger on JRus, but I'm less certain now that the Raiders will do that. Whatever the Raiders decide to do, we can expect to see them make a number of inquiries about veteran quarterbacks. Which quarterbacks they inquire about will likely signal what they have in mind for the #1 pick. Whether they decide to draft JRus or not, I believe they will retain the #1 pick, and not trade down. But if the Raiders make serious inquiries as to the availability of David Carr, I believe that Russell will not play for the Raiders. If the Raiders make inquiries about Huard in KC, I believe that will be because they are looking for the temporary stop gap while they groom a franchise quarterback.

Andrew Walter? I don't believe that the Raiders will go into the season with him as their only choice as a starter since Tui is all but gone and Brooks has been released. I feel the Raiders only have one of two choices. Either bring in an experienced young veteran for a long term solution and give Walter the chance to compete, or to bring in JRus and an older experienced quarterback to help groom Russell the way that Tim Brown groomed Jerry Porter. Either way, I believe that Walter will be given a chance to compete, but only one chance. This coming training camp will be the most important training camp of AWal's career. And time will tell.

Note: Feel free to comment. I have changed the settings so that others, who are not registered users of Blogger, may comment. And welcome to BlandaRocked.

28 Comments:

Blogger Heartland Raider Fan said...

Brooks is officially gone...The Raiders announced they weren't going to pick up the option on his contract. That leaves Walter and Tui, who is all but gone.(via free agancy) It has been reported that the Raiders have been in Houston about David Carr.
I would like to the Raiders make a deal for Carr, trade Moss,(I agree Blanda Rocked, that Kiffin could be talking him up to increase his trade value) and draft Calvin Johnson. Let Carr and Walter compete for the starting QB slot.
Johnson is reportedly the best athlete in the draft and AlDavis is notorious for drafting accomplished athletes over positional needs.
Porter, Curry, and Johnson would be a hell of a trio.(can you say "stretch the defense?")
Did Brown have any insight to who the Raiders may hire at QB and WR coaches? (Brown might be a good choice)

2:14 PM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

Heartland:

Brown was just aswering questions about Porter and Moss. But in terms of Brown coaching (and I think he may have been approached which would answer why he was talking to Kiffin) I think Brown is more interested in a media career.

I doubt the Raiders will use the number one pick on a WR - less so than a QB. With being a #1 pick comes a certain amount of power. WRs have become more like snipers in the military. You need them, but you don't want to give them a larger profile than is absolutely necessary. Players like Moss, Owens, and Keyshawn Johnson have kind of made this so.

If the Raiders don't pull the trigger on Russell, I think they'd look for a RB. And it's still possible that Al will go defense with a defensive lineman.

It's a little hard to tell who's pursuing what right now in Raiderland. Most people who know Kiffin feel sure that he'll want Russell. Making inquiries in regard to Carr smells of Al Davis. But now we need two QBs, assuming that Tui will be gone. While we all expected that Brooks and Tui would be cut loose, we'll have to pursue a veteran in any event.

Would we pick up Carr and draft Russell? Seems doubtful but stranger things have happend. Garcia wants to remain in Philly if they pay him. But I've always thought the best scenario would be to get Garcia to start for at least one year, and bring in Russell for Garcia to mentor.

3:15 PM  
Blogger StickUm25 said...

I have to disagree with you on Moss. While at the games I noticed as early as pre-season that Moss was not explosive as he has once been. I don't think he's ever received as much single coverage in his life. In the percentage of plays where he did play fast, he was not blowing the doors off dbs as he once did. He's still fast, just not blindingly so. With his height and jumping ability he still posseses an advantage, but I don't think you'll see many 50+ yard catches from him at this point. Can he still be productive? Sure, but not to the level of the $$$ we're paying him. As he has that one skill - go deep and jump - I think we'd be better served with a high draft choice if its an option.

5:59 PM  
Blogger RaiderRealist said...

BR-

I agree with stickum, Moss has lost a step. He hasn't had the same burst he once had since he got hurt in the SD game in '05. He compounded that by half-assing his way through the '06 season by not concentrating on catching the ball, let alone fighting for it. On top of that he just turned 30 on Feb 13th.

As for Porter, he's got to prove himself to me on the field. I'll believe it when I see it. My feeling is that by him changing his number the Raiders have taken Porter off the trading block.

3:58 AM  
Blogger RaiderRealist said...

Almost forgot...Just because they cut Brooks doesn't mean they won't try and resign him later for less money!

4:00 AM  
Blogger TheFreakingPope said...

BR,

I agree that the type of veteran quarterback we bring in will be very telling. At least we can be relatively sure that KFC won’t be interviewed.

Carr is an interesting choice. Only one problem. As a resident of Texas, I’d love to see him move to Oakland, but he IS the Houston Texans. He is the heart, soul, and face of that franchise. I live in Dallas, only hours away, and at best I could name one other Texan. Mario Williams. Sad thing is, he’s famous because his name *isn’t* Reggie Bush.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what Tui might do this year. If we truly are “reviving” a Gruden ala Kiffin offense, who better to throw the ball?

7:27 AM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

Pope:

Re Tui: Funny, I thought about that the other day. Tui hasn't shown anything with the Raiders, but he was drafted for the Gruden offense. Since the Gruden offense is making a comeback, could this mean the Raiders might still have plans for Tui?

8:21 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Bringing JP back into the fold was a sound business & personnel decision.

The cap dollars saved by trading/releasing Moss will be vital for signing our 1st round pick.

Lastly, I know it might be nothing more than semantics but I'm curious BR why you think the Raiders will be running a "Gruden" type offense? Gruden ran a pure form of the West Coast offense. USC/Kiffin ran a hybrid, pro style offense.

In the last 6 years, the Trojans have had Carson Palmer (strong arm, great at deep passes), Matt Leinart (accurate passer; short to medium), and John David Booty (good arm strength; accurate for short, medium, deep).

All 3 QBs had differnt strengths & weaknesses BUT all 3 were asked to throw short,medium, and deep passes. None of these QBs ran a "Gruden/Pure WC" offense.

9:29 AM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

Calico:

After Porter's press release, I think it may have been McDonald who contacted Tim Brown to get his comments on both Porter and Moss. Brown said that he had talked with Kiffin, and Kiffin told him that he'd always been an admirer of Gruden and wanted to emulate Gruden's offense. This is part of what Kiffin apparently told Porter to get him back on board.

While the comment didn't go much further than that, I'm aware of Kiffin's propensity to go for the deep ball. I'm making the assumption that Kiffin will not abandon the deep ball as Gruden did.

10:05 AM  
Blogger TheFreakingPope said...

BR,

Honestly, all logic and statistics aside, I want to see Tui stay with the franchise. I want him to have one more shot with an offense that matches his abilities. As I've written on many occassions, I have a great amount of respect for the class Tui has shown.

In other news...

My buddy is a chiefs fan, yes, you read that correctly. Nonetheless, he tells me the organization is rumored to be looking to trade Larry Johnson.

Can you imagine as season where Norv is a Dolt and LJ is wearing Silver & Black?! For a nice finishing touch, Big Mistake Jake could start in Denver. Unlikely, I know. But I can dream, can't I?

10:36 AM  
Blogger docmayhew said...

Kiffen and Moss all smiles and high-5's? As we all know the Senior Bowl rumor was that Moss cursed Kiffen and told him to bug off when first contacted. Are Kiffen's public comments about the good vibes between him and Moss Kiffen's first big public lie? Who knows...

My guess, being a natural cynic, is that Kiffen is making smoke about Moss, because if things are truly nasty with Moss that lowers his trade value to fire sale level. Remember that from now till after the draft, no one is telling the truth and behind the scenes the phone lines are burning up with Mike Lombardi discussing various Moss for whomever deals around the league. My guess is Moss will be gone in a trade. But for what? O-line help? A QB? A draft choice? Also, watch and see if the Raider's re-sign Brooks for less money.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

BR - I believe that Kiffin's offense will be a hybrid. The west coast offense (using the WRs and RBs to stretch the field horizontally) and a traditional pro-set (3 WR sets; using at least 1 WR and at times the TE to stretch the field vertically).

A big part of the success of USC's offense was the use of the RBs. A power rusher and speed back used in various sets. It is vital for the Raiders to acquire a good pass catching/change of pace RB. I would love to see the Raiders draft Garrett Wolfe in the 5th/6th round. He could be used as a 3rd down back and PR. He has explosive, big play potential and creates a threat everytime he steps on the field. Using the pick we gained from Doug Gabriel to add depth to our RB committee would be very valuable.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A power rusher in the NFL at 5'7" and 177 lbs. ????

5:25 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

I was not referring to GWolfe as a power rusher...he would be the speed/change of pace/3rd down specialist. A power back would be someone like Michael Bush (Louisville) or Kenny Irons (Auburn) who should be available at #33.

5:45 PM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

Calico:

RE the Kiffin offense - just reporting here what McDonald said that Brown said. However, what I remember to be the outstanding feature of the Gruden offense is the shifts and formation changes before the snap. That's part of the reason it took the team two years to learn it. The other feature was the complete lack of deep passing, which is part of the reason James Jett was of no use to him. Jett's only skill was going deep.

I agree with you about a RB. We don't need the top pick. Jordan and Fargas can do the deed on first and second downs. But we need the added receiving threat on third downs.

How do you feel about TEs, Calico? I've been thinking about that need lately. Under Gruden TE were for blocking or for check off passes. Do you predict the same under Kiffin?

8:46 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

BR - At USC, the TEs were used very sparingly in pass catching duties. This was a function of having 3 WR sets and using the TB as a pass catching weapon. On ocassion the TE ran deep seam routes to clear the field and catch the D napping.

Going forward into the 2007 season, I would expect Kiffin to size up the current Raiders TE personnel (weak) the TE draft (very weak) and come to the conclusion that the TE will not be a major feature of his offense. The one guy who presents somewhat of a wild card is John Madsen. He is an intriguing talent...very good hands, decent speed, good all around athlete who is a tweener. Somehow, someway, I think Kiffin will find a way to get Madsen on the field to make plays. Whether it is in the role of a BIG slot receiver or small TE, Madsen can make plays.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Heartland raider fan said...

Wow,this is getting to be a habbit disagreeing with you guys.
I see the long ball not being an integral part of Gruden's offense because of the limitations of Gannon's arm. I can remember numerous occassions when receivers open deep were left empty handed from Gannon's inability to get them the ball. Was Gruden going to bench him for it or tweak his offense to compesate for Gannon's strengths?
What's wrong with Courtney Anderson? I see him being in the same boat as Walter, maligned for poor game plans under Shell that failed to utilize his talents effectively. Anderson had really come on strong towards the end of the Turner regime and last year was nearly nonexistant.
If the Raiders do draft Russell, he won't start for at least a season, which would be all the more reason to me to design and build an offense to suit Walter's talents. Pick up a veteran for insurance (#2 on the bench) and give Russell a chart. If Walter is as successful as I think he could be and when Russell is ready to start Walter's value on the market could potentially make a big difference for continuing the success of the franchise.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Heartland Raider Fan -

Your point about Gruden not employing the deep ball due to Gannon's poor arm strength is accurate and on point. Although Gruden does run a WC offense, at TBay the long ball is used as a weapon. Simms/Gradowkski to Galloway deep is a regular occurence.

The direction of Kiffin's offense will be largely shaped by the QB situation. I can't see running a WC offense if JRuss is drafted. On the other hand, if the Raiders think Walter can possibly start and they sign a vet FA QB like Carr, Schaub, Huard, or Garcia than there is a good chance that a hybrid WC offense would be installed.

It will be very interesting to see how the coaching staff blends a system with the current and new personnel. The question of "Do the players fit the system or does the system fit the players" adage should fall somewhere in between. By this I mean that the coaches will adapt the system the best they can to maximize the current roster's talents but at the same time be looking for players that long term best fits their system.

As far as Courtney Anderson, he is still a work in progress. The change in QBs/systems/HC has not been the best work environment for a 7th round project. He does have good potential but last year when he did get some opportunities, more times than not, his hands were unreliable. He is a serviceable TE at best.

One thing I'm fairly certain about is that if the Raiders draft JRuss, he will not be on the sideline holding a clipboard. He would be able to out-perform Walter in camp and pre-season to be the opening day starter.

Bottom Line: JRuss is bigger, faster, stronger, more mobile, and accurate than Walter. If the Raiders invest $60M in JRuss, he will be the starter in year 1. The only scenario I see where JRuss is drafted and doesn't start would be if Carr or Schaub are signed. I don't see that happening though. To me, the Raiders will either draft JRuss and a cheap vet FA QB or sign a higher priced FA QB and draft a 2nd/3rd round QB.

6:39 PM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

Calico:

Agree with you take on QBs. If we go with Carr we won't draft Russell. However, with all of the praise being leveled at Russell during this combine, it causes me worry that Al will go in another direction just because he won't do what folks expect he'll do. It's like a mantra with him.

I don't think that we should expect that Kiffin will automatically follow the USC design. Even though it is argued that USC is the most pro-like organization in college football, there will have to be far more sofisticated wrinkles. I actually DO expect to see an offense somewhat similar to Gruden's, only with a much more constant deep ball threat.

This speaks toward why we need Russell. With his height, and with the height of some of our WRs (Porter, Moss, Gabriel, Curry), that threat should be as scarry as a hunting trip with Cheney.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

BR - You are definitely right about not expecting Kiffin to run a carbon copy offense of USC. It is also safe to say he won't be running an offense exactly like Gruden's offense either.

Kiffin's football related experiences have been shaped from Tedford, Carroll, Chow, Gruden, his dad Monte. I would expect him to take bits and pieces from both USC's 3 WR offense and a hybrid WC offense, and customize it to fit the Raiders personnel. Utlimately the offense will have his stamp on it... and then we will be in the "Fast Lane".

10:07 AM  
Blogger Raider Raza said...

Great Post BR,
My thought on Porter and Moss aren't as optismistic.

Porter changes his number to #81 and announces he is "happy," onboard and ready to emmulate the real #81 Brown and become a leader and playmaker. I will have to see it to believe it. Last year after requesting a trade, I saw Porter mock the fans, dance, flex, kiss his muscles, pantomime money in his hands and stand 20 feet away from his players during their pre game huddle, before his mysterious injury sidelined him. Brown took his craft serious and earned the name Mr. Raider, while Porter immature earned the name Pouter.

Even worse is Moss who has been deteriorating before our very eyes. Remember when he got caught from behind against Dallas two years ago. That was odd Moss never got caught from behind. While Moss has never been a workaholic like Rice, he used to bring his A-game on Sundays; Not anymore!!! Moss has difficulty getting separation, fighting for balls, making plays and even catching the ball has been challenging for Moss. Last year our highest paid player and leader quit gave a half ass effort before he quit on the team. Off the field he demostrates diarrhea of the mouth and asks for a trade.

I understand that the business economics force us to keep and give Porter another chance, but Moss at 9 Million NO WAY. Can we please get rid of him now...

12:39 PM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

Of interest is what Tom Martinez says about Russell at the combine. It's likely the same thing that Martinez told Kiffin when Kiffin interviewed Martinez for QB coach.

"I know who I'd take," Martinez said. "A JaMarcus does not come along very often. There have been a lot of Brady Quinns."

8:40 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

BR - check out Peter King's "Monday Morning QB" post today in SI. Here is the excerpt;

The Raiders have debriefed the new mentor of JaMarcus Russell, leading to rampant speculation (mine) that the fix is in and that Randy Moss is about to be a very happy man.

You may have heard that California quarterback consultant Tom Martinez, the mentor of Tom Brady since Mr. Super Bowl was 13, worked with Russell for a week at the Athletes Performance Institute in Arizona and came away highly impressed. You have not heard that the Raiders, prior to the Combine, summoned Martinez to ask him about Russell. Martinez says he told the Raiders, "There's nothing you'll ask him to do that he can't do. Nothing.'' Here are some other interesting tidbits Martinez shared with me Sunday night:

a. He told Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Knapp to remember how good Russell is, and he's only 21.

b. He told Russell after analyzing LSU tape he too often looked sluggish, like he was carrying too much weight. And the one thing he stressed with Russell is consistency with the passing motion. "Like a golf swing -- you get really good when the swing's exactly the same every time.''

c. "I told the Raiders, 'The worst thing you could do with this kid is give him four coaches in his first four years,' " said Martinez. "He needs stability. He needs the right guy coaching him the first two or three years, where he'll be taught consistency and stay on him about his technique. That's what every young quarterback needs.''

d. Everyone's talking about how well Russell throws the deep ball, and they're right. "But he makes such beautiful throws on the curls and the comebacks," says Martinez, "like an outfielder hitting the cutoff man perfectly. And his touch is so good. He throws it short with touch, deep with touch. Every throw looks so natural.''

e. Martinez worked with Russell on throwing the ball more over the top. "When Tom Brady throws an interception, it's very rarely a tipped ball because he's releasing the ball high, so it's hard to deflect it." said Martinez. He said the 6-5 1/2 Russell, releasing the ball high over his head, would, in effect, make him about 7-3 and make it very hard for defenders to tip his passes.

12:45 PM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

Interesting... I just ate a mint before reading that Calico!

Normally I don't worry too much about the Raiders' failure to draft good QBs in the 1st round. Frankly, I've never seen a QB who positively made me drool - until now.

Add on that over the top release to 6 ft 4 inch WRs - Oh, my!

1:27 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Blandarocked: you made some very good points. You and I haven’t always agreed on issues of Jerry Porter, but it seems we are just about on the same page now.... if for no other reason than the dynamic of changing circumstances surrounding the coaching staff and realistic personnel options.

I’m inclined to agree with Tim Brown’s comment that Moss has lost a step, but also agree with your opinion that:

“...once it became evident that the Raiders were not going to be competitive, Moss took the rest of the season off.”

I also agree that Kiff may be positioning for a Moss trade by selling Moss is "back on board." At least, I hope so.

I was against trading for Moss from Day One. Porter and his ego had fought with Gruden et al to get more playing time and had just become Raiders #1 WR (post Brown/Rice). Moss immediately removed Porter from that status, and I believe this has been a problem with Porter since.

5:53 AM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

NYRaider:

I suspect the reason Porter may be "happy" is that he's been told Moss will be leaving, and he'll have another shot at #1. That coupled with the fact that the Raiders may be signing Russell, with a 7 ft., 4 in. over the top delivery to the 6 ft., 4 in. Porter. With Russell's delivery, accuracy and touch, the interceptions will come only from tipped balls by the WR. Most CBs will look like Pop Warner players against these two.

9:18 AM  
Blogger TheFreakingPope said...

BR,

I read this weekend that Al & Kiffin are scheduled to meet with Ramsey!

7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe they need to trade or cut Jerry porter. He is a horrible reciever and overrated. I feel he is a second or third string reciever. He hasn't done anything good with the Raiders. He has only had one decent season. There is no explosivines and speed in him. I remember a few years back he made a comment that he starts playing football on the 8th game of the season. So early in the season he just goes through the motions. What kind of talk is that?
So far I'm not liking our new coach. He hasn't done anything in the free agency to help out this team. We pretty much have the same horrible offensive roster as last year. He will probably be fired by the end of this year if he keeps this sorry roster. Hopefully i'm not the only one who feels this way.

12:44 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home