By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, May 19th, 2011 at 1:30 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Other than head coach Hue Jackson, the most significant hire of the Raiders’ offseason was someone named Bob Wylie.
Wylie will coach the Raiders’ offensive line, a unit that has a new center in Stefen Wisniewski and a left tackle in Jared Veldheer but other than that is a mystery.
Given that the performance of the offensive line will be crucial in Jackson’s quest to “build a bully,” Wylie has a huge responsibility. Rumor has it that Wylie likes to entertain co-workers with acts of magic, a skill which could come in handy if the lockout goes into August and he attempts to conjure up a line with a lot of new parts.
Wylie’s hire was not major news in part because the assistant line coach, Steve Wisniewski, is a Raider legend. Wylie was an assistant line coach himself last year in Denver and spent some time coaching in the Canadian Football League.
But there’s little in the way of line play Wylie hasn’t seen or heard, as evidenced by a clinic he puts on each year in Cincinnati which brings together professional and college line coaches from all over the country to talk shop and determine the best way to put a defender on the ground.
The two day event is Friday and Sunday, opening with North Carolina line coach Stan Pittman discussing “Ways to get the Ball Outside, the Outside Zone and Taxi Play,” followed by Auburn’s Jeff Grimes on the topic of “The Open Side Gap Scheme Run Game (Power & Counter)”
Saturday’s seminars will feature Cleveland Browns line coach George Warhop, Atlanta’s Paul Boudreau, the Steelers Sean Kugler and Green Bay’s James Campen.
It’s called the C.O.O.L. Clinic (Coaches of Offensive Linemen) and put on by Wylie and a core of line coaches who call themselves “The Mushroom Society.” Why?
Because, according to the clinic’s Web site, “The mushroom logo signifies the similarity between the “O-Line” coach and the fungus. Both are kept in the dark and fed garbage yet continue to flourish!”
As much as I wanted to get into more detail with Wylie about his background and the challenges ahead, an interview request was politely declined by the club.
Assuming there is a training camp, how the offensive line shakes out will be one of the more interesting stories in Napa.
Samson Satele may have been the Raiders’ most consistent lineman last year and he will give way to Wisniewski. He can play guard but hasn’t done it in the NFL.
Robert Gallery has thanked the Raiders but said he plans to move on Khalif Barnes wasn’t interested in another one-year contract to be a backup lineman and blocking tight end, but the book isn’t necessarily closed on him. Nor is it closed on Mario Henderson or Langston Walker, both of whom are also not under contract.
Right guard Cooper Carlisle remains, a veteran whose strength is zone blocking on a team which will only occasionally block in that style.
One of Wylie’s marching orders will be to develop Bruce Campbell, the 2010 combine phenom who never saw the field as a rookie except on special teams. Campbell played exclusively at right guard in practice.
Nothing is carved in stone, but the longer the players are out, the tougher it will be for players to switch positions, develop their timing and learn new technique as taught by Wylie and Steve Wisniewski.