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O-line’s scheme, makeup depends on Cable

Fourth in a series evaluating the Raiders position by position as it begins it begins to prepare for the 2009 season.

Position group review: Offensive line

Starters: LT Mario Henderson, LG Robert Gallery, C Jake Grove, RG Cooper Carlisle, RT Cornell Green. Reserves: T Kwame Harris, C-G Chris Morris, C John Wade, T Paul McQuistan, T Mark Wilson, T James Marten. Unrestricted free agents: Grove, Carlisle.

The direction of this unit will become more clear once it is learned whether Tom Cable returns as either head coach, offensive coordinator or offensive line coach.

He won’t have the triplicate role of being in charge, calling the plays and handling his beloved grunts, but if Cable is still around, the Raiders will remain a zone blocking team, with an emphasis on beating opponents to the punch rather than overpowering them.

Cable believes in the scheme very deeply, and it was at its glorious best in the fourth quarter against Tampa Bay, when Michael Bush rushed for 129 yards and the Raiders left Bucs linemen strewn all over their own field.

If Cable doesn’t get the head coaching gig and takes another job, the Raiders could return to a man-blocking scheme or some kind of hybrid, as Denver has done in recent years.

As was the case in 2008, the Raiders’ best lineman was a guard, only this time it was Gallery, who had only three penalties all year and who would be getting some run as an upper tier player at his position if Oakland had a winning record.

Gallery has already reworked his contract once, usually an indication a player isn’t going anywhere, and with cap number approaching $9 million, could be asked again.

The rest of the line wasn’t nearly as consistent. Carlisle, the most steady player in 2008, found himself manhandled on occasion against the more physical tackles and is an unrestricted free agent.

Grove’s contract automatically voided on playing time incentives. The Raiders’ Ed Block Courage Award winner for his recovery from micro-fracture surgery, Grove is a staunch Cable supporter and his plans could hinge on whether the coach returns in some capacity.

Originally signed to be a veteran backup, Green has been a two-year starter on the right side and carries a $1.8 million salary into next season. Ideally, he’ll be a backup and a mentor to Henderson and other young linemen.

During the draft or free agency, the Raiders need a frontline tackle _ maybe two. The scheme they select will determine whether they seek a bruiser or someone more lean and athletic.

One of the bright spots over the past three games was Henderson. A public whipping post for former coach Lane Kiffin, and ridden hard by Cable in private, Henderson’s passion and desire were openly questioned.

He subbed for Harris against Buffalo and Kansas City, with Harris getting his job back when healthy. He subbed for him again because of injury later in the year, with Cable going back to Harris end emphatically stating he was the Raiders’ left tackle.

Finally, as Harris continued to struggle, Henderson got the job over the final three games, didn’t make a single penalty, and proved worthy of at least entering camp as a favorite to start.

Harris, on the other hand, is due $2 million in salary plus a $6 million roster bonus after earning $605,000 with a $1.5 bonus in 2008. Harris will never see the second year, certainly not with those numbers.

Cable’s loyalty _ he was convinced Harris would be a standout left tackle _ got the better of him in this case. He lobbied for Harris, who struggled in pass protection for the 49ers, and it stands out as his worst mistake in judgment since joining the Raiders.

The Raiders have right of first refusal on Morris, a smallish, mobile guard/center who won’t be around if the blocking scheme changes radically.

The Raiders still have Wade under contract for another year at $1.5 million should they lose Grove.

Marten, a Cowboys practice pick, was signed off their practice squad but was never active for a game as he adjusted to the system. Although Cable said he liked Marten’s progress, they never considered activating him even though Harris was struggling, Henderson wasn’t a favorite of the coaches and Green’s health was a week-to-week proposition.

McQuistan, who spent the season on injured reserve following knee surgery, adapted slowly to zone blocking and was ticketed for a reserve role before being injured. Wilson, also on I.R., will be fighting for a roster spot.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • Dakota

    Brien(Painting the Town) Says:
    January 7th, 2009 at 11:19 am
    Someone would bite for 2 numbers 1’s for Nnamdi
    __________________________________

    I don’t know about that. Since the inception of the franchise rule has any team ever given up two first round picks for a player? I think it might have happened once but I can’t remember.

    anyone? anyone?

  • Hubbard Run Me Throw

    I love how people just throw around all these big names in regards to the various positions that the Raiders are trying to fill. Get it into your heads: NOBODY WITH ANY CREDIBILITY WANTS TO COME HERE!!

  • http://none MaddenRaider

    The only good strong coaching options are someone that can stand up to Al and get us in the playoffs. That’s why we should be looking at someone like Bill Walsh to run the offense and Tom Landry to run the defense. Al would listen to those guys.

  • http://www.dontbotherresponding.com Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Hubbard, Fassel has no credibility?

  • RaiderDogg

    408RAIDER(GO SHARKS & FREE DIRTY!) Says:
    January 6th, 2009 at 4:57 pm
    “yep

    dogg don’t troll…”

    408 -

    Good looking out bro, I appreciate it. I always crack up when I come in here to find someone has been pretending to be me for God knows how long. It’s good to know that some people still know the real me.

    Sorry to hear about your dad by the way.

  • RaiderRockstar

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)

    Ending a 20-year run as president, general manager and chief executive of the Chiefs, Carl Peterson delivered a 40-minute farewell speech on Tuesday to friends and staff.

    The 64-year-old longtime pro football executive did say he has no plans to retire.

    “I’m thinking about going away for a couple of weeks and relaxing,” he said.

    “Perhaps my favorite stat is that his teams beat the Raiders 30 of the 41 times that we played,” Clark Hunt said.

    ***

    Bill Parcells is staying in Miami, thus shutting the door on that possibility. Could Peterson join our front office?

  • RaiderRockstar

    Boston College’s Jeff Jagodzinski met with Jets officials Tuesday to discuss the opening – an interview that was expected to cost him his job with the Eagles.

    Jagodzinski, who became BC’s coach in 2007, was told by athletic director Gene DeFilippo that he would be fired if he met with the NFL team.

    ***

    If the Jets pass on JJ for Head Coach, would Al Davis & the Raiders consider him?

  • RaiderRockstar

    hello? anyone home?

  • RaiderDogg

    D

    It’s going down tonight at the Oracle. The Lakeshow better not underestimate the W’s. Look the hell out!

    By the way I am cracking up as I type this. I will feel sorry for you if the W’s find a way to win. Either way I will be wearing the goggles.

  • Hubbard Run Me Throw

    I not anti-Fassel, but why doesn’t he have a job? Why does he have to use the media to lobby for a gig?

  • vegas raider

    Go dubs!!

  • RaiderRockstar

    BOSTON (AP) Boston College called a news conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss its football team and coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who has interviewed with the New York Jets.

    Jagodzinski was warned by athletic director Gene DeFilippo his job would be in jeopardy if he interviewed with the Jets. Jagodzinski met with the NFL club Tuesday night.

    The school said DeFilippo would be the only one meeting with reporters later Wednesday afternoon.

    Jagodzinski has been BC’s coach for two seasons and has three years left on his five-year contract. DeFilippo has said he wants a coach who will stay at the school long term.

    DeFilippo could replace Jagodzinski, 45, with defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani or assistant head coach Jack Bicknell Jr.

    The BC job was Jagodzinski’s first as a head coach after 22 years as an assistant, 14 in college and eight in the NFL. After one season as offensive coordinator with the Green Bay Packers in 2006, Jagodzinski went to BC after Tom O’Brien left for North Carolina State.

    In his two seasons, he led the Eagles to two Atlantic Coast Conference title games but lost both to Virginia Tech. They were 11-3 in his first season, when they rose as high as the No. 2 national ranking. They went 9-5 in 2008, winding up with a 16-14 loss to Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31 that snapped an eight-game bowl winning streak for the Eagles.

    Jagodzinski (jay-guh-ZIN’-skee) upset DeFilippo when he didn’t tell his boss that he would interview with the Jets, who fired Eric Mangini the day after the team missed the playoffs despite an 8-3 start.

    Jagodzinski was Jets quarterback Brett Favre’s offensive coordinator in Green Bay but is considered a long shot for the New York job. He also could be interested in an offensive coordinator’s position in the pros, which has few if any of the responsibilities of a college head coach – recruiting, meeting with alumni and supporters of the program, attending functions and participating in other off-field events.

    Seattle needs to assemble a staff under new coach Jim Mora, and Jagodzinski has worked with Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Jagodzinski spent two years as BC’s offensive coordinator, starting in 1997 when Hasselbeck played there.

    Jagodzinski also worked for Mora as an assistant with the Atlanta Falcons.

    ***

    What about JJ as OC of the Raiders?

  • RaiderDogg

    That’s what I’m talking about Vegas. Go Dubs!

    I gotta be realistic though. The Lakers are the hottest team in the NBA and it would be sweet to snag a victory tonight, although somewhat unlikely.

    I lost a bet to Dakota last year and my punishment was that I have to wear James Worthy goggles during games. Now I can’t watch a game without them, kind of like Rip Hamilton and his facemask.

  • http://www.dontbotherresponding.com Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Hubbard,

    I think Fassel wanted to show Al he respects the Raiders and would state that publicly. He probably doesn’t have a job because he is not willing to be a coordinator. Rumor has it he is interviewing, just not here (he could have interviewed with Al months ago for all we know).

  • JediRaider

    This oline situation is the reason why Cable should be the frontruner for HC – None of those guys, with the exception of Cornell Green (who should be a back up in any system anyway) could play well in a man blocking scheme – Henderson, Carlisle, Grove, and Gallery are all weak (relatively speaking) – no way any of them can run block straight up consistenly. I’m still not sold on Gallery being anything more than a ‘good but not great’ guard and only this system. What a bust. At least he’s useful and you can tell he tries as hard as possible and he doesn’t make those same stupid mental pass blocking errors (as far as switching on interior stunts and blitz pickups in the protection schemes). I would still like to upgrade from Grove ASAP so we could run inside better, and carlisle is barely holding his own at this point, but Green at ROT is the clear need – even though I think he has performed great given his talent and that he was brought in to be a backup, we need to free up Zach Miller and Green is just getting old.

    I desperatly want a #1 WR in round one, but if I were drafting this year, I would have a tough time passing on one of those OT’s – there’s five that are top 10 worthy, and three of them would fit well in the ZBS and two of them are also powerful enough to play in other systems. I feel comfortable enough that Henderson deserves a chance next year, and he’ll have another offseason to bulk up some more (he has done well in that regard since we drafted him) and continue to improve his technique. If we trade Nnamdi, we can get the center from Cal in round 1, a stud ROT, and a WR in round 2, although I’d rather pick up a good veteran WR this year and consider drafting a WR with next year’s #1 pick after we see how JLH, Schillens, Shields, and yes, Walker do next year – Walker’s cap hit is too big to cut him – we also have McFadden in the passing game, which I suspect will be a much bigger part of our offense, so with his presense I think we can get away with a void at #1 WR, not to mention Zach Miller. I think most of us agree are our biggest needs and must be fixed before we can become serious contenders, and having JLH, DMAC, and Miller, as well as speed with Chaz and Bush’s ability to catch out of the backfield gives us more than enough fire power on offense for the time being.

    I know D line is a bigger priority than o line (10th in the league rushing offense vs. 31st in rushing defense), but we have a franchise QB that we have to protect, and as I mentioned, two potential pro-bowl RB’s, a pro-bowl caliber TE, a playmaker at WR in JLH, and one RB that can be flexed out as a WR but we take too many 1 and 2 yard gains in the run game and we can’t rely on the line to convert 3rd and shorts in the running game. Two of our best weapons, DMAC and Miller, are used to often to help block, and since the TE is usually lined up next to the ROT, and Mario Henderson has really come on as a pass blocker, that screams for us to go after a blue chip OT – Ideally one that can play R or L OT, so if Henderson slips we can move him over to the left side.

  • http://www.dontbotherresponding.com Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Dogg,

    Those are KAREEM goggles…Worthy was just keeping the tradition alive.

  • vegas raider

    During the playoff run 2 years ago, I put my hair in a Matt Barnes mohawk. What was with those old Laker teams, Rambis , Kareem, Worthy, has any other team had so many bespeckled players?

    Unfortunately the Lakers lost last night so they are going to play pissed. What a bummer this year turned into, at least the Cal Bears are playing good

  • RaiderDogg

    I have a sinking feeling that the Raiders will be drafting USC Safety Taylor Mays in the 1st round. You know how Al rolls. Not that Mays isn’t an excellent player…

    Al collects DB’s like Gruden collects QB’s.

  • Nnamdi21

    Raiderrockstar said:

    Bill Parcells is staying in Miami, thus shutting the door on that possibility. Could Peterson join our front office?

    and again…

    If the Jets pass on JJ (BC’s Jeff Jagodzinkski) for Head Coach, would Al Davis & the Raiders consider him?

    =======================================================

    Nnamdi21 says:

    This the equivalent of throwing sh*t against the wall and seeing if it sticks.

    Neither is on the Raidar. (Coined it, the term is MINE!!!)

    Until they are, can’t be concerned about their merits or lack there of.

    If forced to speculate, I’d say Cable’s coming back. The ZBS has been a rousing success and showed signs of life late.

    To ditch and start over wouldn’t make sense (but w/ Oakland that doesn’t seem to stop them sometimes…) since you want a strong run game to help Russell.

    Oaklands D is predicated on the Offense working. They’re built to defend the pass when teams have to play catch up.

    If the O don’t go, the whole things shot as we’ve seen the last 6 years…

  • RaiderDogg

    BSJ

    I stand corrected. I have a nice baby hook that will compliment my Kareem goggles well.

  • RaiderRockstar

    if Henderson slips we can move him over to the left side.

    ***

    huh? LT is much harder to play and much more important in any system. He’s protecting the QB’s blind side. If you can’t cut it at LT, they move you to RT – like Harris in San Fran and Gallery in Oakland. That’s just the way it works …

  • Nnamdi21

    Jedi:

    You said, “Too often DMAC and Miller are used to often to help block.”

    Kinda had too when we lost BOTH starting FBs…

  • Nnamdi21

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    January 7th, 2009 at 12:15 pm
    if Henderson slips we can move him over to the left side.

    ***

    huh? LT is much harder to play and much more important in any system. He’s protecting the QB’s blind side. If you can’t cut it at LT, they move you to RT – like Harris in San Fran and Gallery in Oakland. That’s just the way it works …

    =====================================================

    Henderson plays LEFT side already.

  • RaiderDogg

    I’m out for the day

    Have a good afternoon Nation.

    Go Dubs!

    Dakota -

    I may come back here tonight during the game, hope to see you around.

  • RaiderRod

    Hello…..Nation.

  • http://www.dontbotherresponding.com Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Dogg,

    So what was Dakota perpared to do if he lost? I would have suggested he wear Harry Caray glasses to the Sturgis rally. LOL

  • RaiderRockstar

    This the equivalent of throwing poop against the wall and seeing if it sticks

    and again …

    “If forced to speculate”

    ***
    N21:
    Funny. earlier in this post you were talking about drafting a punter in Round 1. Don’t act like you’re better than everyone else, you arrogant hypocritical turd.

  • RaiderRod

    No need to draft a punter at all , let alone in round 1.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Henderson plays LEFT side already.

    ***

    I know. Maybe you should tell Jedi that.

  • RaiderDogg

    Bo Schembechler Jackson Says:
    January 7th, 2009 at 12:20 pm
    “Dogg,

    So what was Dakota perpared to do if he lost? I would have suggested he wear Harry Caray glasses to the Sturgis rally. LOL”

    LOL, I like that Harry Carey idea, Dakota would rock those with pride I am sure.

    His punsihment was that he would have to wear that very special, bright gold Baron Davis shirt that has a picture of BD and underneathe it says “The Beard”.

    OK now I am out for real, thanks for the laugh BSJ.

  • RaiderRod

    Darrius Heyward-Bey #8 WR

    2008 STATS
    RECEPTIONS YARDS TOUCHDOWNS
    42 609 5
    CAREER STATS
    RECEPTIONS YDS TOUCHDOWNS
    138 2,089 13

    He is entering the draft , looks interesting also.

  • Hubbard Run Me Throw

    The dude flamed out in Baltimore and needs a job. So, it’s last resort time (i.e. Rams, Raiders) It’s desperation. What I was referring to is when people ask, “Why isn’t Al interviewing Pioli?”, “Why can’t we get Parcells” “What about Cowher?” These people aren’t going to come here and work for some maniac. These are people in demand. And, people in demand aren’t desperate, like Fassel.

  • vegas raider

    I just don’t buy into this whole dying need for a LT.

    Quick who are the LT’s for Philly, Giants and Ravens? I don’t know off the top of my head, yet those teams seem to be doing OK. We bought into the top LT prospect with Gallery and the Jets did with D’Brickshaw. Didn’t work out so well, at least for the investment.

    Look, we are not making a run for the Super Bowl next year, and LT or RT is not our only hole, we have plenty. We have time to see if Mario will pan out, and early returns says he will and at a cheap price potentially, and if not, than we will have another opportunity to draft a LT. There will be other “can’t miss LT’s” trust me. Can’t just say “well we can move him to RT”, because we would have the highest paid RT in the league, and they are nowhere near as important.

    We need a difference maker with the 7th pick, love to trade down but have to live in reality here, on offense or defense. LT’s just aren’t difference makers. Anthony Munoz and Orlando Pace are HOF’s, but there teams stunk more often than not.

    Chew on that folks, I got to go back to work.

  • RaiderRod

    # 281 has a point , but in my opinion sooner or later someone will want to prove themselves by taking on the challenge.

    I know … wishful thinking.

  • RaiderRod

    vegas raider Says:
    January 7th, 2009 at 12:28 pm
    I just don’t buy into this whole dying need for a LT.

    Quick who are the LT’s for Philly, Giants and Ravens? I don’t know off the top of my head, yet those teams seem to be doing OK. We bought into the top LT prospect with Gallery and the Jets did with D’Brickshaw. Didn’t work out so well, at least for the investment.

    Look, we are not making a run for the Super Bowl next year, and LT or RT is not our only hole, we have plenty. We have time to see if Mario will pan out, and early returns says he will and at a cheap price potentially, and if not, than we will have another opportunity to draft a LT. There will be other “can’t miss LT’s” trust me. Can’t just say “well we can move him to RT”, because we would have the highest paid RT in the league, and they are nowhere near as important.

    We need a difference maker with the 7th pick, love to trade down but have to live in reality here, on offense or defense. LT’s just aren’t difference makers. Anthony Munoz and Orlando Pace are HOF’s, but there teams stunk more often than not.

    Chew on that folks, I got to go back to work.

    _________________________________________________

    I just want to beat everyteam in our division twice next season , not looking for the Superbowl until 2nd season.
    :)

  • http://PROFOOTBALLTALK.COM DIRT LOT FOOTBALL

    CARL PETERSON LEAVING THE CHIEF’S IS A BAD THING. HE SUCK’S. WE NEED HIM THERE. LIKE MARTY BALL, NEVER WON JACK…..

  • RaiderRod

    Guaranteed 8 wins.

    Just beat our division twice.

  • Raider Raul

    -Gannon for HC or OC
    -WR with 1st pick
    -Chris Johnson is a starter
    -Cable staying is fine
    -Michael Bush should start, with McFadden as change of pace, and Fargas coming off the bench
    -I hope Kirk Morrison is OK with being a very good SLB, cuz we need a veteran bruising MLB
    -Fire Rob Ryan!!

  • http://www.dontbotherresponding.com Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Vegas,

    The reason the OTs are so important for us is that we have a young QB who is not very mobile and can’t audible. If we can’t give him time to pass our offense is doomed.

    The teams you cited (minus Ravens) already have a more accomplished line and QBs who can audible and adjust when blitzed. Everyone knows you can blitz a young QB and likely put him off his game. Moreover, we need to free up Miller and DMAC from their pass blocking responsibilities.

    We need at least ONE good tackle in the first two rounds, and hopefully 2 more potential starters through FA or the later draft rounds. We already have enough “difference makers” on offense. Without a better line, even TO would make little “difference” offensively (see Moss debacle).

  • darkknight01

    vegas raider Says:
    January 7th, 2009 at 12:28 pm
    I just don’t buy into this whole dying need for a LT.

    Quick who are the LT’s for Philly, Giants and Ravens? I don’t know off the top of my head, yet those teams seem to be doing OK. We bought into the top LT prospect with Gallery and the Jets did with D’Brickshaw. Didn’t work out so well, at least for the investment.

    Look, we are not making a run for the Super Bowl next year, and LT or RT is not our only hole, we have plenty. We have time to see if Mario will pan out, and early returns says he will and at a cheap price potentially, and if not, than we will have another opportunity to draft a LT. There will be other “can’t miss LT’s” trust me. Can’t just say “well we can move him to RT”, because we would have the highest paid RT in the league, and they are nowhere near as important.

    We need a difference maker with the 7th pick, love to trade down but have to live in reality here, on offense or defense. LT’s just aren’t difference makers. Anthony Munoz and Orlando Pace are HOF’s, but there teams stunk more often than not.

    Chew on that folks, I got to go back to work.

    ^Our line needs to get stronger and more depth is needed no matter which way you want to look at it. Mario can play LT and Oher and Monroe are probably better suited as RT’s anyway due to their strength. Cornell Green is a backup at best.

    You can’t tell me there will be a better RT who can start right away like Oher and Monroe could that we can get in Round 2 that can play in the ZBS scheme and in a power scheme?

  • DarthPirate

    You’re saying that like it’s easy. Even the best teams have trouble beating the same teams twice in one year.
    ====================
    RaiderRod Says:
    January 7th, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Guaranteed 8 wins.

    Just beat our division twice.

  • RaiderRod

    Not saying it’s easy , but it’s been non-existent for years.too long.

  • http://www.dontbotherresponding.com Bo Schembechler Jackson

    287: If anything, Gannon should start as a QB coach only. Even then he may bomb. Smart, intense players like Gannon often cannot inspire or even relate to kids who don’t have that innate drive to succeed (i.e. Larry Bird).

  • SacRaider

    RaiderRod Says:
    January 7th, 2009 at 12:25 pm
    Darrius Heyward-Bey #8 WR

    2008 STATS
    RECEPTIONS YARDS TOUCHDOWNS
    42 609 5
    CAREER STATS
    RECEPTIONS YDS TOUCHDOWNS
    138 2,089 13

    He is entering the draft , looks interesting also.
    ————————————————–

    Also been timed in the low 4.2s and could run the fastest time at the combine this year.. Al may already be in love with him..

  • The Dude

    vegas raider Says:
    January 7th, 2009 at 12:28 pm
    I just don’t buy into this whole dying need for a LT.

    Quick who are the LT’s for Philly, Giants and Ravens? I don’t know off the top of my head, yet those teams seem to be doing OK. We bought into the top LT prospect with Gallery and the Jets did with D’Brickshaw. Didn’t work out so well, at least for the investment.

    ……………..

    U want to rebuild u start with an LT. Look at Cleveland takin Thomas then having a gd season in 07, Miami this season and Atlanta both took LT’s in the first round this year and look at them.

  • RaiderRod

    i.e. Don Mattingly

  • RaiderRod

    SacRaider , he is small though like 6′ 2″ 210 .

  • http://www.dontbotherresponding.com Bo Schembechler Jackson

    i.e. Magic Johnson

  • RaiderRockstar

    there must be some red flags with Henderson. We traded up to get him and everyone thought he was a reach in round 3. Kiffin & Cable both had reservations about him. Sims beat him out last year and Harris beat him out this year. The 2 false start kings. Cornell Green on the other side was a false start expert as well. When he got hurt last year it was Paul McQuistan to sub in, not Henderson. Kiffin was critical. Cable gave him praise, then sat him back on the bench saying he needed way to much help and still had much to work on. 3-5 starts without any glaring weakness in pass protection is good work, but how will he hold out for an entire NFL season? and what if he gets hurt? What if we scrap the zbs? He’s not motivated in practice. In camp & practice, even Greg Spires was tossing him like a rag doll. I think he’s proved he deserves a shot, but NEVER do you pass on a OT, when it’s clearly your biggest need. We’ve done that the past 2 seasons and it hasn’t worked out very well.

  • RaiderRod

    Gotta run fellas , see ya in the PM