Nothing hurt worse than seeing our 25-year-old franchise quarterback suffer a broken fibula on Christmas Eve, in a Week 16 win over the Colts. Should Carr have been passing, with a 33-14 lead and only 11 minutes left in the game? Mark Davis didn’t seem to think so.
Trent Cole was credited with the sack heard across the Raider Nation. We knew his right leg wasn’t in good shape immediately, but at the time we didn’t know the extent of the injury.
Even living in Missouri, surrounded by Chief fans, my KC fan buddies were texting me to express how much they hated to see that. While tailgating with “Post to the Ghost” at Arrowhead, we had several KC fans come up and chat with us about Carr giving.
They were giving props to us for finally landing a QB. They said he’s “one of the best in the league” and “exciting to watch”, some even confessed to be Carr fans…Whoa!
Let’s talk about the offensive line, Carr’s ugly best friend. Carr knows the importance of an O-Line, as evidenced by him purchasing a big screen TV for each of them (even practice squad members) as Christmas gifts during the 2015 season.
Our O-Line is viewed as a strength of the team, potentially one of the best in the league. Everybody knows if you want to win football games, you’ve got to run and throw the football and you can’t do that if your QB doesn’t have protection and your backs don’t have running lanes.
We’re looking good right now for the most part with 3 Pro bowlers in Penn, Hudson & Osemele plus another very good player in Gabe Jackson. In fact, I’d say we’ve got the best interior OL in the league. However, I’d like us to evaluate the tackle position this off-season as it appears we have a liability at RT.
Let’s rewind back to the 2013 Draft: My guy was Ezekiel Ansah, available 3rd overall. Reggie traded the pick and selected Hayden (12) & Watson (42). Players picked after Watson include Kawann Short (44), Kiko Alonso (46), LeVeon Bell (48), Jamie Collins (52) Robert Alford (60). How about a stud TE in Round 3, like Travis Kelce (63) or Jordan Reed (85)?
Watson was a guy that couldn’t make the basketball team as a power forward, so he transferred to Saddleback (junior college) in 2011 and learned to play American football for the first time at age 21. He transferred to Florida State, played 1 year (2012) and got drafted early due to his athleticism. This is a guy that was involved in soccer & boxing – not just basketball. So where are we now?
Menelik Watson – 28 years old. 27 games played, 17 starts (avg = 4 starts/yr. 7 games/yr.).
Watson allowed the strip/sack by Dekoda Watson (Denver scrub on his 5th NFL team) in Week 17. Shane Ray, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus and D.J. Reader also got the best of him in the final 2 weeks of our season.
The highlight of Menelik’s Raider career will be donating a game check to a kid with a heart issue in December of 2014.
On the field? He’s a wasted roster spot. I say no more projects, no more scholarships (cue Beyonce “Lemme Upgrade ya”). So who else do we have at tackle?
Donald Penn – Jared Veldheer’s replacement, acquired during the 2014 off-season. This guy gained new life when we signed him. He only had 1 offer on the table in free agency (after the Bucs released him), from the Washington Redskins, who wanted to make him a RT. Reggie signed him as a LT, probably as a stopgap and he made the most of his opportunity. This guy is like a 330lb ballerina out there, I call him “twinkle toes Penn” because he has great feet.
My issue is Penn turns 34 in April, he’s entering the last year of his contract and he’s coming off a knee injury. #72 probably isn’t a long-term solution at left tackle.
Austin Howard – Right tackle signed for 5-year $30 million also during the 2014 off-season. He’s coming off of a disappointing year, which likely had to do with him playing through a torn labrum and rotator cuff.
He’s viewed as a potential salary cap casualty, with a cap figure of $6.4 mil in 2017. If we wait to cut him after June 1st, we save $5 million and only eat $1.4 million in dead money.
The issue is, can we wait until 6/1? There aren’t any starter quality players to replace him with at that point, so we would either have to draft his replacement or turn to a young unproven player in-house. My issue is he turns 30 in March, he’s not playing up to the contract Reggie gave him and (like Penn) he’s coming off of an injury.
One possibility to solve the RT spot might be to re-work Howard’s deal and make it shortened by a year and cap friendly. He’s not going to be a hot commodity if he hits free agency and he loves being a Raider. Nate Allen did something similar last off-season. Of course, Howard would still have competition for the starting job, if retained.
The future: Vadal Alexander, the 22-year-old out of LSU, dropped to the 7th round because scouts said he translates to a guard due to “slow plodding feet” i.e. not quick enough to handle edge rushers. He proved to be a mauler in the run game through 9 games and I thought he played well, except for the penalties. If Tice can help him clean that up, I think we’ve got a player. Whether that’s a starting RT or maybe a swing guard remains to be seen. He started 2 games at tackle and 2 games at guard in 2016.
Draft prospects: Cam Robinson (Alabama), Garett Bolles (Utah), Roderick Johnson (Florida State)
Carr’s quick release can do a lot to mask the deficiencies of an OL, but Cook isn’t at that level yet and McGloin never will be. Carr is young and integral to the success of this team going forward. We must protect this man at all costs!
Suggestion: Take a tackle with the 24th overall pick in the draft and solidify the line. Find a player that isn’t a British sissy or made of glass. Reggie, this time we need a football player, not an athlete!
Written by: PodunkRaider (aka RRS)
Edited by: Kenny Stapler