Raiders’ offseason: What we don’t know


Things that remain a mystery as the Raiders go their separate ways before reporting to training camp in Napa on July 29, with the first practice the following day:

— Can Ted Tollner and Paul Hackett provide the kind of stability and teaching JaMarcus Russell needs to build on his final six games of the 2009 season?

Tollner, at the behest of Tom Cable, was said to have added deeper routes and that played to Russell’s strength, although there was little in the way of evidence to support that in public practices.

Russell went through three playcallers in his first year as a starter and needs to identify himself this year as a player who can carry not only a passing game, but an entire team.

— What is Cable’s plan for the ascension of Michael Bush? I know, wise guys, it’s Al Davis who decides. Not so fast. Cable is on what Lane Kiffin called the “honeymoon” afforded to new Raiders head coaches.

Lance was right on this one. New coaches get a lot of rope, just enough to usually hang themselves, in many cases. Getting the sort of performance out of Bush the Raiders got in the season finale is something Davis wants to see.

It’s up to Cable to make it happen and in the process de-emphasize Justin Fargas.

— Assuming Mario Henderson is the left tackle, when does Cable make the move with Khalif Barnes to the right side? He said at one point he could do it as late as preseason games and everything would be fine.

I’ll defer to his expertise along the offensive line, but that seems a little late in the game when the issue is protecting the franchise quarterback.

— How good is new line coach Jim Michalczik? The running game will carry this team, and Cable as a head coach appears to be much more of a delegator than the man who attempted to wear all hats as an interim head coach.

— Can the Raiders’ woeful run defense be repaired with more due diligence with regard to discipline, rather than a major change in personnel and philosophy? No way to tell during no-contact practices in the offseason.

You’re up, John Marshall.

— Jeff Garcia, Lorenzo Neal and Greg Ellis are in the house. Are their teammates listening? Warren Sapp has his doubts, as expressed to Peter King.

Sapp is fond of exaggerating to make a point, occasionally stretching the bounds of credibility, but it’s true a lot of young players simply don’t want to hear it.

Jerry Rice even attended the Raiders final OTA. If the receiving corps was stifling a group yawn, there was no mention of it on the Raiders’ Twitter account.

— Will Darrius Heyward-Bey and Mike Mitchell be healthy enough come training camp to make a run at being contributors in the first quarter of the season? They’ve both been hampered by bad hamstrings pretty much since their first minicamp.

— What roles do Javon Walker and Derrick Burgess have with the 2009 Raiders?

Walker has been around, and according to Florida rookie Louis Murphy, has even been helpful as he recovers from the knee surgery which surprised his employer. Burgess has been a no-show and in the final year of his contract.

Walker is getting his payday regardless on a renegotiated contract, the question is whether he can still be anything remotely approaching the receiver he once was. The Raiders may be waiting with Burgess to see if any team loses a pass rusher during training camp in order to get the maximum in trade value.

There appears to be no such mystery with Andrew Walter, who should be a camp arm along with Danny Southwick until the one-time quarterback of the future gets his exit visa.

— Can the Raiders get anything out of Michael Huff?

The No. 7 overall pick in 2006 is nearing bust status. Some say he’s already there. Huff remains an infuriating step late in coverage and isn’t the kind of physical presence Oakland likes in its safeties. Tyvon Branch and Mitchell push him further down the ladder.

— Will Nnamdi Asomugha get the chance to shadow the opponent’s top receiver? He seems to think there’s a chance it could happen on occasion.

— Is Chris Johnson too good to be true? Cornerbacks simply don’t identify themselves as elite at age 29. The Raiders are pinching themselves on this one, signing him to a lucrative four-year contract that they’ve never announced to this day, perhaps concerned Johnson’s performance after the DeAngelo Hall fiasco was a mirage.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • SnB Defense

    Morrison, Howard, Brown and Alston combined for 2 sacks in 2008

  • HayesDaze

    You’re such a self-righteous little cultist.

    The Referees
    The Media
    The City of Oakland
    The Lane Kiffin Trick

    Waaaaaaa,Waaaaaaa Wa.

    The County built that Coliseum on 66th ave, when the Raiders had no home. If he doesn’t like it, he can build his own. In Livermore perhaps.

  • HayesDaze37

    When people go to games, they’re looking for excitement NEAR THEIR HOTELS, and/or NEAR THE EVENT. The excitement you’ll find @ 9 PM in front of the Coliseum on a Friday night is not what most people want to bring their dates/spouses/families to.

    “Hey honey, how ’bout we go down to the sausage shack in front of the Coliseum for a nice quiet cocktail.”

    Not exactly a walk at Seaport Village in S.D., or the Riverwalk in San Antone, or even the vastly under-promoted and undervalued Jack London Square.

    It’s easy to admit, KK…the area within a reasonable walk around the Coliseum is a pit. Admit it, go ahead.

    Now…admit that it’s not all Al’s fault.

    C’mon…you can do it.

  • Daze

    You’re either ignorant of the area, or lying.

    There’s plenty of very nice Hotels in the Area, including the Hilton. It’s right near the Airport, you know.

  • The Referees
    The Media
    The City of Oakland
    The Lane Kiffin Trick

    Waaaaaaa,Waaaaaaa Wa.

    The County built that Coliseum on 66th ave, when the Raiders had no home. If he doesn’t like it, he can build his own. In Livermore perhaps.

  • HayesDaze37

    KK — You have a vested interest in something/someone around the Coliseum issue.

    Changing the argument because you have run out of any ideas for a defensible position doesn’t work.

    Stop putting words in my mouth to make yourself look good. I never blamed a ref for anything. I don’t blame the media for Raiders’ or Al’s misgivings. I blame your buddies in the City of Oakland for their own failings. And…Kiffin doesn’t need me to point fingers — he’s a buffoon all by his lonesome, and he proves it all the time.

    So, now that we all understand that your only argument is that “Al sucks” — and that you can’t formulate any other thought than that — how ’bout we just let it go. I can’t believe I’ve spent all this time (and a great buzz) trying to talk sense into somebody so close-minded. Facts be damned!

  • HayesDaze

    You’re free to leave this blog at anytime

    The Raiders lease is up next year, he can leave too.

  • Jerry Mac….

    W-hiskey T-ango F-oxtrot??

    How about a FIX!!


    Congrats, to you and Mrs. D. on the good news.

    FREE 408 & FREE DIRTY!

  • HayesDaze37

    KK — You can tell I know the area extremely well. The Hilton is not within a REASONABLE WALKING DISTANCE to the stadium — and even if it were, it’s hardly “affordable” for most fans @ $220+ per night, for rooms reserved well in advance. The next “nicer” hotel is the Park Plaza, and it’s hardly closer.

    The hotels nearest the stadium are all middle-of-the-road at best, dangerous at worst, and are largely waaaay below their nationwide franchise standards. I know you know this…that is, if you’ve traveled nearly as much as you claim.

    Walking across Edes to get a fast-food burger and a six-pack at the mini-mart is what goes for entertainment in the area. That’s the way to bring in the tourists!

    That damn Al Davis. If he weren’t the Raiders owner, Oakland would be THE place to go. What a town Oakland would’ve been with anybody else but Al.

    Those schools would’ve been much better, too. Since the only word those poor students had to learn to spell was Al, I guess they never needed to learn more than two-letter spellings. Try it, KK…you can do it. A…L…there, you did it. Al. Big word for a big boy.

    Could it be the Raiders turnaround year is the same year that the Oakland schools turned the corner? If so, KK, you better give Al credit for that too!

  • All the other NFL owners or corporations are able to lobby for their interests withing the community they operate in. EXCEPT AL DAVIS.

    Conincidence? you be the judge folks.

  • Yeah, I’m sure the Detroit area, with it’s new Fords Field for the Lions is a major tourist attraction, and bettered school scores too ???????

  • On one side of his mouth he’s talking about the rip roaring time at Raider games. The other side of his mouth he talking about the people who live there.

  • HayesDaze37

    Boy, I’m glad I took the time to eat. See you’re still spewing nonsense there, KK. The new stadium in Detroit didn’t mean anything?


    Don’t tell me the Super Bowl doesn’t fit the bill, when it comes to bringing tourist money in, KK. The Super Bowl is the Super Bowl of American sports events, and without the new stadium in Detroit, it would’ve never happened.

    Some say it never should have happened there…imagine what a new stadium in a “warm weather” area would bring. Already, the guys in AZ are bidding on more Super Bowls after the one they already hosted. (And the Fiesta Bowl, and moto-cross events and boat shows and RV shows and car auctions and…)

    Imagine what YOU could do for your community, KK — if you’d just take the time you spend on this blog blaming Al, and did something to improve the area. What’s that? It’s easier to blame others for the city council’s failures? That’s why your city has so many of them…failures, that is.

    And…I do talk up the great time to be had at Raiders games, and especially the great tailgate atmosphere (regardless the restrictions) — because I’ve been to tailgates WORLDWIDE, and the Raiders tailgate atmosphere is as good as it gets. It’s just not as, ummm, aesthetically pleasing to most folks as a lot of other parks are, though. And my die-hard fan status is not what I would call the “average” fan’s — so I’m willing to be more flexible with the way things are in Oakland.

    Over the years, I have spent $$$ in the Oakland area in the 6-figures. My business and tax dollars help pay for the infrastructure your elected leaders fail to ensure are maintained. So, don’t even try to make it out that I’m anti-Oakland citizens. I point-out that the citizens are getting jobbed by their own elected (and appointed) managers. Something that will only matter if people like you take off your blinders (and/or put down the bottle).

    Wake up and go to sleep, KK.

  • HayseDaze

    F.U. you condescending piece of shyt

  • HayesDaze37

    Umm, KK — Here’s another well-kept secret…


    No, those Super Bowls and Final Fours and such don’t bring in any tourist dollars. Tourist dollars which in-turn become tax revenues, which in-turn become SCHOOL FUNDS. No, those Super Bowls and Final Fours and such don’t mean anything.

    No wonder the City of Oakland’s so far behind the power curve — if you’re the example of how people expect their city to (non)functionally operate.

    Shhh, KK — Don’t let-out the secret about those tourist dollars when big events happen. Let those other cities go for those measly scraps…while Oakland continues to be left behind as generations pass by. Cities live and die on tax revenues, and many cities would simply dry-up without tourist dollars. Big secret. Must keep it from Oakland. Shhh.

  • Talking out your assz, F.U and your tax dollars.

    Btw, mfkr. I live in Alameda!

  • HayesDaze37

    I love visiting Oakland, and I love bringing people with me who doubt the place (the Coliseum) is a great time, that simply gets a bad rap. Everyone who does, leaves loving the event. But…they would never go there without a nudge, because the area’s (rightfully and otherwise) not exactly portrayed as the warm n’ fuzzy capitol of the world, ya dig. Only the city can change that perception.

    Sorry you’re mad at me, KK. Again, it’s a lot easier than you looking at the truth, I guess. Condescending? Probably. Do you deserve it? Definitely.

    G’nite, dude!

  • Why didn’t he get his stadium in LA?

    Why come running back to Oakland if it’s so terrible?

  • Yeah, you cultist piss me off.

    The Raiders have been losing for 20 years, and all you people can do is blame the media.

    Al Davis leaves Oakland behind for greener pastures in LA, FAILS, and comes back to Oakland and sues them for 1 BILLION DOLLARS.

    Then you get up on your self-righteous ass, and say I’m not interested in facts. F.U.!

  • HayesDaze37

    So, KK — I guess that means Oakland’s not good enough for you, then?

    G’nite, hypoKKrite!

  • HayesDaze37

    No more Hennessy for you, KK!


  • You’re the one saying Oakland is not good enough? Anybody can read your comments above.

  • What make you think I drink Hennessy? Or is that just another sterotypical shot?

  • If you’re scared to come to Oakland for a Raider game, keep your assz out in Livermore. I’m sure it’s much more to your liking.

  • careful HayesDaze37 you should leave him alone because KoolKell will get all disoriented then soil himself in a fit of rage and someone has to clean that up.

  • HayesDaze37

    Changing what I said to suit your purposes doesn’t change the fact the City of Oakland has been mis-managed over the years.

    C’mon…I admit Al’s screwed up a lot over the years…you can’t even admit the City of oakland’s screwed up? That’s a super-closed mind, KK.

    Where I live has nothing to do with me pointing out Oakland’s City Council’s failings. And your defending them makes little sense, unless you have a vested interest. Unlike you apparently, when my city council screws up, they hear all about it from citizens like me. The fact you don’t have the constitution to handle a little community-building yourself (but you sure can complain about others!) shows plenty in itself.

    Scared to come to Oakland?? I’ve been going to Oakland my whole life, and running Oakland streets since I was 17-years-old. I still do. In the dark even! Oh my!

    I am one of the biggest promoters of visiting Oakland there is…the, ummm, alleged tourism department should give me a bonus for the amount of new business I have provided the City. Mis-managed as it has been.

    Who knows…maybe the City’s got it figured out, and the new stadium will be built right where the old one is…surrounded by gleaming retail, business, and hotel structures. Oh, and a park would be nice.

    Even in Alameda, my tax dollars $$!! have helped keep your streets safe, KK!

    You’re welcome, amigo!

  • HayesDaze37

    Is there something wrong with Livermore? Tell us what’s the matter with people in/from Livermore, KK. And no, I don’t live there — but it sure is a nice little town. Your closed mind is showing again…

  • jhill

    You can take Oakland out of it, and replace it with say …. The LA Coliseum, and you would still be on point. Who wants to “visit” the area around the LA Coliseum? Heck, apparently, no one wanted to go to Inglewood anymore to watch the Lakers..

    $ was spent on a “run down” section of downtown the same way it can be spent in Oakland. Diffenrence is their was a lot of private $ that finally stepped in. LA City Council had it role, but it would’ve never got down without private funding.

    It’s not Al’s fault, but I can’t really see it being the city’s fault either. Where is the private $?

  • jhill

    I just can’t see football returning to LA unless those same issues are addressed.

    You should see the new development across the street from Staples center. Two new hotels, a new city walk with unlimited things to do and spend # on. And none of it happened overnight. But that area used to be highlighted by the Convention Center, parking lots, and the homeless. Definitely not the place for family outings.

    I could see a football stadium going up somewhere in that area with no problem.

  • I just get tired of you Al Davis Ass Kissers blaming everyone and everybody for the fortunes of the Raiders, EXCEPT AL DAVIS.

    If Al can’t handle it, he ought to retire.

  • HayseDaze

    You certainly like to call people closed-minded. Has it EVER occurred to you that you’re closed-minded?

  • I criticize the management of the Raiders for the All-Time NFL Losing streak.

    You defend the management, and

  • I criticize the management of the Raiders for the All-Time NFL Losing streak.

    You defend the management, and you accuse ME of being closed-minded.

    Don’t you have the integrity to be honest in your arguments?

  • Jhil

    If Al Davis functioned as a Owner/Businessman, he could get done what the other Owners in the NFL are doing. But, no, that’s against his philosophy. “It’s us against the world”. Well, how do you expect to be apart of anything.

  • HayezDaze, you say that Al has made mistakes in the past….as if he’s doing just fine right now. One of the worst teams in football, for 6 years running, coming off of a 5-11 season, riddled with off field drama, that left us with an offensive line coach that nobody had ever heard of as our head coach. Don’t give me this Gruden s’t. Gruden was a well known offensive coordinator when we hired him. Kiffin, love him or hate him, was a USC guy and was 20 times more known than Cable, especially considering his father. Cable is a f’n car salesman, and you know it. Even Al Davis didn’t know who he was the minute he replaced Kiffin with him.

    You can call people closed minded all you want to, but I’ll take someone who’s closed minded and honest over someone who claims to be open minded, yet is entirely full of s’t. See you guys in a month or so.

  • priesttj

    KK, is Al Davis the reason Alameda and Piedmont want no association with Oakland? When Oakland is the major City in the metropolis and the surrounding Cities want zero association there is something very wrong there.

    In the West Bay every City surrounding SF wants to be associated with SF. So. S.F. and all the communities and districts in San Francisco all proud of that association.

    KK, Al Davis is NOT the propblem in Oakland, the people and the elected officials are. But if you talk to people in Oakland they will try to blame a sprts team owner for their problems and there is something inherantly wrng with that.

    HayesDaze37 repeatedly pointed that out to you and you refused to admit it. That is indiginous of the people in Oakland of which I have ahd endless discussions similar to the debate between you and HD37.

    Their hatred for Mr Davis blinds them to obvious facts that the City Government stinks. Your responses were a perfect example of what goes on in that would-be great City.

  • priesttj

    Let’sjust put proper balme where it all belongs. Al Davis is to blame for the Raiders misfortunes and the people of Oakland are to blame for Oaklands.

    Blaming a sports team owner for what’s going on in that City is like blaming a popcorn vendor for the Raiders record over the last 6 years. Yet that’s exactly what people of oakland do they blame Al Davis for everything.

  • Nobody in Oakland blames the Raiders for the City’s problems. That’s stupid.

    Oakland is responsible for Oakland’s problems.

    Al Davis is responsible for the Raiders problems, agreed.

  • priesttj

    And what is the 49ers problem with their stadium if Al Davis is so misguided? Why did the Giants have to virtually biuld with their own money?

    Most NFL stadiums are biult with municipal funds and financed by the Cities in which they play. KK, Cohan had to renevate the Arena himself for the Warriors. San Farncisco can’t even biuld the 49ers a stadium. It has nothing to do with Mr Davis per say. It has everything to do with a lack of vision on the part of elected officials in Oakland. The Raiders should never have had to leave Oakland…………period

  • His bunker mentality is not conducive for working with others.

    If you’re a sports team owner, and can’t/won’t work with the community, they won’t spend their tax dollars on you. Oakland, Los Angeles, Irwindale, Hollywood Park, Oakland, Dublin.

    Now, if you were open-minded, instead of blaming all those municipalities, you might ask yourself, if maybe I’m doing something wrong.

  • “Most NFL stadiums are biult with municipal funds and financed by the Cities in which they play. KK,”
    Absolutely Not True. That’s the problem with you guys, Dead Certain, and Dead Wrong.

  • priesttj

    They certainly do, I’ve talked with many of my friends who think when the Raiders came back the money the City spent cost the city plenty. That’s all they talk about is the money the City gave Al Davis.

    It’s the dumbest thing you’ll ever hear. And these are people that live in the Oakland hills some worked on Dellums campaign. The local media has done a great job snowing these people. They’re not dumb just blind with hatred like you.

  • But that’s typical Al Davis propaganda. Throw everybody under the bus. He’s the Big Boss, but it’s never his fault.

  • priesttj

    prove it and I’ll agree

  • You can say I’m blind with hatred, but will you consider yourself blind with misplaced loyalty?

    So let’s not question each other’s motives. I don’t hate the man. I hate the job he’s doing.

    He’s turned the Raiders into the laughinstock of the League, not me.

  • Name any NFL Stadium built with municipal funds?

  • Name any NFL Stadium built with municipal funds?

    Beside the Alameda County Oakland Coliseum.

  • priesttj

    Your babbling again KK, stay on point everyne agress the Raiders record is Davis’ fault no argument there.

    WE’re talking about the bias attitudes of the people of Oakland blaming one man for their problems. There’s tons that City could do they have the single best climate in the Bay Area beautiful City situated in the best location in the bay area and yet it’s an arm pit. Even San Jose has passed it up. The best thing about oakland at this point is the airport.

  • “Most NFL stadiums are biult with municipal funds and financed by the Cities in which they play.”
    See, you put that shyt out there as if it’s gosphel, and can’t name ONE.

  • priesttj

    The new stadium in Cincinati.