In the aftermath of yesterday’s destruction in Denver, Allen has a number of issues to consider as he tries to salvage the season.
The Raiders bye week comes at a good time as he can institute some solid changes in an attempt to improve the team for the remaining 12 games.
The team faces an Atlanta team in week 6 that is currently 4-0 and looks to be one of the best in the league. The likelihood of the Raiders beating the Falcons – in Atlanta no less – seems more and more remote with every crushing loss.
However, after the Atlanta game the Raiders get the equally stumbling Jacksonville at home and then go to Kansas City to play a likewise hapless 1-3 Chiefs.
The next game is another home game, this time versus an underwhelming Tampa Bay.
Those are all winnable games, especially the two home games.
However, the Raiders aren’t going to be winning many games if they continue to play like they did on Sunday which is why Allen needs to make some changes.
First, I’m going to be upfront that I think that firing anyone – even Greg Knapp – is probably counter-productive.
Yes, the team looked better last year on offense. Yes, the team has struggled with the zone blocking scheme that Knapp prefers.
Yes, Knapp’s playcalling leaves something to be desired.
But the team has been working on this scheme and the zone blocking system for months, now, and it isn’t something as simple as flipping a switch to go back to power blocking and Hue Jackson’s offense.
Instead, perhaps Allen can direct Knapp to mix in more power blocking. If that can get the running game on track, it’s worth the effort. It may be worth picking offensive consultant Al Saunders’ brain on what he sees last year versus this year to see if anything else can help the offense.
But the personnel is pretty set on offense. Allen isn’t going to sit Palmer (or, at least, he shouldn’t). He isn’t going to sit Veldheer, Wiz, Brisiel. He can’t sit Willie Smith unless it’s putting rookie Bergstrom in his place. The WR corp is already playing every receiver available. He isn’t going to sit Darren McFadden or Brandon Myers and so on and so forth.
The point is that there are limited things that Allen can do on offense, personnel-wise.
The same is not true of the defense. The defense has looked worse and worse and has given up more than 20 points each game so far (22, 35, 31 and 37 to be exact).
Unlike the offense, in which there is not much personnel shifting that would or should occur, the defense could definitely shift a bit. It may or may not help but with the team hemorrhaging yards on defense it likely can’t hurt to try something different.
To that end, my proposal would be to make two switches – first, Rolando McClain was embarrassing to watch on the field on Sunday. He was directly involved in at least 3 TDs – mostly in which his man in coverage was able to beat him to get into the end zone. McClain can be good in run defense but he’s become such a liability in coverage that he’s not worth having out there.
I’d suggest that the Raiders bench McClain at least initially and see what they have in Travis Goethel. Goethel hasn’t shown a lot thus far but he may be able to provide a bit more of a spark. At the least it’d be hard to imagine that he would be jogging around the field, something that McClain reverted back to on Sunday.
If the Raiders don’t sit McClain yet, I’d also think it’d be worth playing Aaron Curry at MLB when he returns from PUP (assuming he does return). Burris is settling in at WLB and Wheeler is arguably the defenses best player at SLB so Curry could fit in at MLB where he spent some time last year when McClain was injured. In fact, I graded Curry out decently high as MLB – I liked him better there than at WLB.
Another change that could be made is at the DT position. Desmond Bryant appears to be the Raiders best DT as Seymour and Kelly both disappear for long stretches of time.
It may be worth it to put Bryant into the starting rotation and bring Seymour in as the situational DT. This would keep him more fresh and keep Bryant out on the field. It’s much more likely that Bryant will be on the team next year than it is for Seymour, anyway, and the team should probably find out what it has in him.
Allen has a lot of decisions to make in the bye week. The moves (or lack thereof) will define his first season and reverberate through the next 12 games.
For more Raiders news and analysis, follow me on Twitter @AsherMathews
Photo by Levi Damien