This article first appeared on Reddit in a series called, “32 teams in 32 days”. Written by Gaggleofgeese it is published here with his permission
Oakland Raiders (4-12)
Division: AFC West
Record: 4-12 (1-5 Division) (Missed Playoffs)
|Category||Stat Value||League Rank|
|Category||Stat Value||League Rank|
2014 Draft Picks (subject to change based on compensatory selections)
|5th||Traded to Seahawks in Matt Flynn deal|
|7th||Traded from Arizona in Carson Palmer deal|
|Jeremy Stewart||RB||Exclusive Rights|
|Jamize Olawale||FB||Exclusive Rights|
|Matt McCants||T||Exclusive Rights|
|Kaelin Burnett||4-3 OLB||Exclusive Rights|
|Chimdi Chekwa||CB||Exclusive Rights|
|Brandian Ross||SS||Exclusive Rights|
2013 Season Analysis
- There are few things throughout recorded history that came with more doubt than the 2013 Oakland Raiders squad, frontal lobotomy and the chastity belt included. Reggie McKenzie, general manager since 2012, was presented with a roster full of big contracts and small results. Like any shrewd businessman he cut out the wasteful expenses, but not without obvious ramifications for the talent level on the Oakland roster. Was it necessary to expel the Al Davis scholarship players? Absolutely.
- Reggie bit the bullet and sailed into the seas of 2013 with over 50 million dollars of cap space tied up in dead money, practically ensuring that no big-name free agents were planning on calling Oakland home. In fact, the one major acquisition contract-wise was none other than Matt Flynn, backup QB extraordinaire. This was a major miss by McKenzie, who effectively shelled out $6.5 million for 246 yards of offense against a dreadful Redskins secondary.
- A glimmer of hope came, however, when former Raiders and Packers star Charles Woodson came back to town. Despite his graying goatee and slightly slower stride, the man can still ball and Raiders fans rightfully celebrated his return. Unlike Flynn, Woodson signed a modest deal and outplayed the money he signed up for. He is exactly the type of player that the rest of the young and inexperienced secondary needs around.
- Yet I digress, back to the cold prostate exam that was the 2013 Raider campaign. For over the first half of the season the Raiders were forced to play without the best player on the team, LT Jared Veldheer. Filling in for Veldheer was former RT and all-around penalty machine Khalif Barnes, whose spot was then filled by Barnes’ former partner-in-crime as a Jaguar, Tony Pashos. Without mincing too many words, the offensive line was a mixed bag of shit, varying from runny to outright diseased. Featuring over 10 different combinations throughout the year, a passer without mobility was essentially screwed.
- Enter Terrelle Pryor, human gazelle, black Tebow, 350-Z driving jersey-signing superstar. The man is without a doubt the best athlete on the Raider squad and likely one of the best in the league- just watch him scramble as he abandons his reads. Stupefying, marvelous, and oddly underwhelming. Pryor’s over-reliance on his ability to extend the play had drastic consequences for his passing game, and after his first meeting against Kansas City (where he was sacked 10 times), his game was clearly figured out. If his first read wasn’t open, you either got a Barry Sanders-esque mad dash for positive yardage or a lame duck thrown up for grabs.
- Until that point, there was hope in the Raider Nation. Even the next week, Pryor suspended disbelief with a staggering rushing performance against the reeling Steelers. The other team from Pennsylvania took the wind right out of the Raiders’ sails, however, thanks to Nick fucking Foles putting up arguably the greatest quarterback statline of all time with 7 TD’s thrown in 3 quarters. Pryor suffered a knee injury late in the game that ushered in the Scranton Scrambler and former Penn State walk-on Matt McGloin.
- McGloin’s tenure under center this past year was fair at best, displaying decisiveness not seen with Pryor along with a lack of athleticism not seen with Pryor. McGloin demonstrated an ability to make NFL-caliber throws but when tested with pressure and forced to improvise he folded more often than not. The young receiving corps did neither quarterback many favors, often tipping the ball into the defense’s grasp or failing to fight for a contested ball entirely. While there were glimpses of play-making ability from the taller receivers such as Holmes, Streater, and TE Mychal Rivera, the smaller and faster Al-certified track stars failed to step up to the plate.
- Speaking of track stars failing to step up, Darren McFadden took the opportunity in 2013 to demonstrate exactly how overpaid he is for his production. Maurice Jones-Drew’s former backup, Rashad Jennings, outplayed McFadden in every facet of the running game. Most importantly, Jennings managed to stay out of sweatpants for most of the year as McFadden is wont to do. McKenzie would be wise to cut the cord with McFadden and sign Jennings up with a fair deal in Oakland.
- The defense was a case of Jekyll and Hyde in 2013 with Jason Tarver’s blitz-heavy schemes propelling the Raiders to a 21.4 PAPG average through the first 7 games and jumping up by 12.3 points to 33.7 PAPG for the final 9. Nick Foles’ machine-like dominance of the Raider secondary marked a turning point for Reggie McKenzie’s vessel, as it became painfully clear what another rebuilding year was going to look like.
- After this point the Raiders managed only one win, the Houston Texans, the worst team in football. There are no medals for valor in this league, however, and thus the Raiders finished 2013 with a dismal 4-12 record, 11 straight years of .500-or-less seasons, and the small but oh so familiar consolation prize of a top 5 draft pick. Not to mention the obvious questions about the effectiveness of the coaching staff, the players, the front office, and damn near everyone in between.
- Raiders continue storied punting tradition and fall into /r/nfl mode du jour by eschewing Chris Kluwe for the dreamy Marquette King
- Lamarr Houston proved to be a bookend DE and perhaps the only unquestioned starter in his role on defense.
- McKenzie alleviated some FA concerns about Flynn with the successful additions of Pat Sims and Rashad Jennings
- Pryor’s electrifying early-season scrambles, especially the NFL QB-record 93-yard TD run against Pittsburgh.
- The Chiefs took it back to the 90′s with a heartbreaking playoff loss.
- The Broncos took it back to the 80′s with a Super Bowl blowout.
- Jared Veldheer missed half the season.
- McFadden is proving to be a bust.
- Flynn earned $6.5 mil for one start, or rather $26,422 per yard.
- Janikowski shat the bed and let his numbers go pear-shaped after a big offseason raise
- Tyvon Branch broke his leg early in the season
- Musical chairs on the OL
- Pryor can’t think, McGloin can’t improvise.
Free Agency/Draft Concerns
- To put it bluntly, the Raiders need help at every position that doesn’t involve kicking a ball. I struggle to think of more than five sure-fire starter-quality players that suited up on the roster this past year. These are the kinds of holes that don’t get patched up in a single off-season and will require accurate scouting and smart accounting to pay any dividends.
- However, the Raiders are not without an ace up their sleeve in this regard. One downside of having $50 mil+ in dead contracts in 2013 means having $63.5 mil available on the books for 2014. What does this mean exactly? We can’t be too sure yet.
- If McKenzie is anything like his former boss Ted Thompson he’ll shy away from Jeff Ireland-style spending sprees and load up on less exciting role players, building solid depth without generating solid press. He may go the opposite route with his piles of cash, however, and go after an impact player that’ll excite the team and fans alike. In this respect the smartest grabs would be a true game-changing pass-catcher like Jimmy Graham or pass-rusher like Greg Hardy. at the prices these guys would come at, however, I’m sure many of the Raider faithful feel a tad tentative, pain still lingering from so many high-paid FA’s of yesteryear.
- Of more importance in my opinion is re-signing several current players to long-term deals, namely Lamarr Houston and Jared Veldheer. Keeping Charles Woodson around would also likely aid a defense desperate for continuity.
- In the draft Reggie and Dennis Allen should place an emphasis on pass rushers, interior OL, and finding a QB if the right situation occurs with draft position and relative player ability (Reggie has stated that he will draft BPA whenever possible). There truly are too many needs to hope that the Raiders can patch them all up in a year’s time, but Reggie & Co. can certainly get the ball rolling in that direction.
Where there was once anchored a mighty warship in the waters of Oakland there now sits a listless drifter, practically devoid of sea-worthy crew or conditions. The vessel is beaten, underfunded, understaffed, and it remains to be seen how much faith can be placed in the hands of the captain and his officers. Yet hope is not lost, for in the months to come the organization that has spent so long in the shadows will have the means to lift itself out of irrelevancy and back into contention for the suddenly-hot AFC West. With Reggie having a king’s fortune to outfit his bunch of marauders there is good reason to harbor excitement for the months to come. There is a long road ahead for the team of the decades to return to its winning ways but with the right leaders making the right decisions, victory can’t be too far off.