Pillagers Mount Up!
What’s up my Blog Brothers? It has been a loooooong time since we have come off of a draft with real, legit, Superbowl aspirations.
Reggie as always, has a plan. Now it might not be what us Semi’s would do if we ran the team (Thank Goodness), but the Executive of the Year stuck to his guns and improved this team on both sides.
Let’s take a look at his FA and Draft additions:
Surprisingly to most of us on here, Reggie’s first free agent signing was a Right Tackle from New York—Marshall Newhouse. Marshall will compete for the starting Right Tackle position and, most likely, will be a swing tackle for depth and not a starter. Though Newhouse isn’t a game breaker, his addition to the rotation will keep the rest of their personnel fresh late into games.
Adding Cordarrelle Patterson from Minnesota and Jared Cook from Green Bay adds to the already lethal arsenal of weapons at Derek Carr’s disposal. Patterson is lightning quick and can take the top off of a defense. Cook gives Carr something he hasn’t had consistently; a legitimate middle of the field target. Walford will be pushed this signing, probably something he needs as he still hasn’t lived up to his potential. Add Patterson’s All-Pro kick return skills, and we should have great field position all year long.
And of course we added Beast Mode. This could take us to a whole another level if he has something left in the tank. If he doesn’t live up to they hype, I don’t think it affects us too much overall. The running back stable is already solid as is and Jalen Richard plays bigger than he seems. Aside from the financials, there is very little that can hurt us as a result of this acquisition.
Of course we all were screaming: “Where’s The Defense Reggie?!”
Enter Jelani Jenkins, a LB from Miami. Injured last year but still young, he most likely takes Malcolm Smiths position and posts Malcolm Smith type numbers.
So no linebackers or pass rushing defensive lineman in Free Agency? Ok then, the draft must lean heavy on the defense.
Last year our defense led the NFL with 60 plus pass plays given up over 20 Yards. Some were yelling LB, but Reggie chose to fortify the secondary instead. In turn, McKenzie walks awy with what may be the 2nd best if not the best Corner in the draft. Conley ran the 3rd fastest time at the combine with a 4.4, has long arms, and measures in at 6’0″. The issue here is the pending allegation. Reggie must feel very confident to take Conley so I trust him (Reggie was not the only team who felt good about his story checking out as over a dozen other teams who were interviewed echoed the sentiments of the gentle giant general manager).
In the second round Reggie Mack selected Obi Melifonwu. Obi, a physical strong safety standing over 6’4″ tall with 224 pound muscular build. Obi’s combine performance was downright freaky. He ran the fastest 40 at the combine at 4.40, leaped 44 inches in the vertical test, and cleared 141 inches in the long jump—Al would have lost his mind. You think Reggie had Travis Kelce, Tyreke Hill, or any other TE or receiver that has consistently beat us over the middle last year on his mind early in this draft? Absolutely.
Our defense was last in the league in sacks. We struggled pushing the pocket all year and QB’s routinely stepped up into protection to avoid the Mack truck racing off the edges. Reggie addressed that in the 3rd round with Vanderdoes. Hopefully we get the 2014, pre-injured version and if we do, I think Reggie got a steal in the 3rd. Vanderdoes isn’t the type of DT to accumulate sacks (which is why I wanted Carlos Watkins in the 4th), but he is a big body that can create gaps and force guards backwards and collapse the QB’s safe space. Vanderdoes’ presence on that line should flush opposing QB’s into the jaws of Oakland’s speedy edge rushers.
Still no linebacker? I mean it’s kind of funny that our GM, HC, and KNJ are ALL ex- linebackers yet their iteration of this team has struggled mightily at the position since the changing of the guard in the East Bay.
Signing Riley (or Gerald Hodges) seems to be a no brainer. Reggie did grab an ILB in the 5th, however. Marquel Lee is a bIg linebacker with the kind of stature Reggie and Jack covets. He’s not the fastest or most consistent in college but someone who can compete to wear the green dot. Lee is believed to be smart enough to quarterback the middle of the defense and is big enough to play close to the line.
With the young aggressive secondary now in place, the inside linebacker crew will no longer be completely responsible for patrolling the entirety of the middle of the field. Lee’s assignment will be to keep plays in front of him and to police the run. With the speedsters we now possess in the defensive backfield and the size we have at safety, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the inside backer come off the field in 3rd downs to be replaced by Obi and a bevy of corners.
The thinking must be a healthy MEJ, Ward, Calhoun, Cowser, Ellis, Vanderdoes, and Autry will be an improvement over last year’s unit. Add Calhoun to the LB core with Heeney, Cowser, Ball, Mack, Irving, and maybe Aldon (but probably not), we could easily go from last in sacks to top 10-15. I would say coming into the year, this unit looks strong and we should improve with improved push up the middle.
I mean shoot, we can’t be worse! The addition of blitz-master Pagano will help too. Oh yeah AND we have the Defensive Player of the Year; could he have another season like last year?
A healthy Karl Joseph to start the year will be big. Will Heeney improve (he can’t get much worse)? Can Ball be that cover linebacker we will need and stay healthy (he’s still in rehab but we’ll hope for the best)? Will Reggie sign Riley? Is James ready to step up in the middle? Remember Riley graded out pretty good last year considering he was sitting on the couch before coming to us after the season had already commenced.
All things considered, all we need to do is cut down on some of those big plays—especially the small plays that turned into big plays. Remember, we were exceptional in the turnover and 3rd down game last year.
We all know the strength on this team is #4. We all saw how much he means. Seven 4th quarter or OT Game Winning TD throws last year was good enough to set an NFL record. Furthermore, Carr’s career touchdown to interception ratio (81:31) ranks 4th all time behind Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Russell Wilson.
Hopefully we won’t need late game heroics this year. Carr and his WR’s, with the addition of Cook and Patterson, should only mean this offense will continue to hum and could score even more points than last year in which the team averaged 26 points per game—7th best in the league.
Add Lynch with D-Wash, “Pocket Rocket” Richard, Jaime, and the 7th Round bruiser Elijah Hood from NC, and this running game which was good last year could be a Top 3 Rushing Offense. Reggie added depth to our strongest unit overall: the offensive line; Sharpe or Ware could be our starting LT in a few years.
I see an 11-5 team that finally beats KC and wins their first AFC West Crown since 2002. As long as #4 stays healthy and the Defense can improve from the bottom to somewhere around 15-20, we can contend for a Lombardi trophy both this year and for the foreseeable future.
Only 5 more months until we see our “Raiders” take the field and find out what we’re really made of.
Written By: 303Raider
Edited By: Kenny Stapler