By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 at 7:59 am in Oakland Raiders.
Yes, I’m spending most of this weekend watching a 13-and-under baseball tournament, but I’ve got a cell phone and a computer in case anything happens with the Raiders . . . which it hasn’t.
The business has evolved into one that is as preoccupied with projecting a sequence of events as repeating them.
With that in mind, here’s what’s going on with the Raiders until further notice:
– Jason Campbell is a huge upgrade from JaMarcus Russell, but things will get very interesting when Bruce Gradkowski takes the field in Napa. He built a lot of support after taking over for Russell, but it won’t take more than a few Campbell successes for teammates to surmise that anyone was going to be an improvement.
– The most important metatarsal in the NFL belongs to Chaz Schilens.
Sorry, but coach Tom Cable’s enthusiasm of the corps of wide receivers comes off as whistling in the graveyard without Schilens.
For a fourth-round draft pick, Louis Murphy was a revelation. But other than Schilens and Murphy, it’s a crapshoot. DHB and JLH? Unproven in capital letters. Jacoby Ford is at least a year away from racing under rainbows consistently. Todd Watkins, Jonathan Holland, Shaun Bodiford . . . . need I go on?
Cable can say all he wants they haven’t considered Terrell Owens, but if there is any real concern about Schilens or the longer term, some kind of incentive-laden one-year deal with Owens is worth considering.
– Hue Jackson is the man.
Argue amongst themselves how it transpired, but common sense says Al Davis told Cable the only way he was staying on is if he turned over the offense to someone else, and Jackson is that person.
Lot of buzz amongst the players regarding Jackson. He’s bringing back a good practice mentality in which he wants the offense to get after the defense, and will let the defense know about it when they’ve been had.
– The Raiders (and this is purely a Davis thing) don’t exclude the media for the sake of secrecy. They do it because they can.
As Monte Poole points out, it doesn’t make a lot of sense with regard to Jackson.
– Speaking to Poole’s point about fans seeing enough good things this offseason to return to the fold, a retired Oakland police officer I see occasionally told me he sent in his season ticket money the moment he heard about the release of Russell. I’m sure he’s not alone.
– Any talk of going to a predominantly 3-4 defense remains just that _ talk _ until further notice.
It’s possible the Raiders are going heavy on 3-4 on the days the media can’t watch organized team activities, and equally as possible they’re doing the same old stuff.
– Heavyweights ought to look elsewhere.
Other than undrafted free agent Kellen Heard, a 354-pound nose tackle, the Raiders have been (other than JaMarcus Russell) watching the scales closely the past few years. Terdell Sands was eventually sent packing because of it.
– Gradkowski has no intention of settling for being a backup quarterback.
Which is precisely what makes him an ideal backup quarterback.
– As time goes on, the most relevant and interesting drills, seven-on-seven’s and team sessions will be when Darren McFadden is sent into a pass pattern on the outside guarded by either Kamerion Wimbley or Trevor Scott, and how the Raiders’ defense responds. The far-too-early-returns show McFadden having his way.
– Teams will continue to inquire about running back Michael Bush, but there is no chance he’ll be traded because he’s still working for the salary of a fourth-round draft choice and Davis would insist on first-round compensation.
– Given the limitations of the offseason, the Raiders can speculate they’ve fundamentally improved (specifically with the pick of Rolando McClain) but have no hard evidence they can dominate the two areas which marked the great teams of the franchise’s distant pass _ blocking and tackling.