Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

13 Dec 2006

Every Play Counts: Raiders Offensive Line

by Michael David Smith

I'm a glutton for punishment.

How else to explain my decision to watch the Oakland Raiders' offensive line on every play of their 27-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals? I was curious to see just how bad this much-maligned offensive line was, whether any of the individual linemen had promise, and whether the line of a team whose head coach, Art Shell, and position coach, Jackie Slater, are Hall of Fame tackles, looked like it had soaked up any of their wisdom.

The results weren't pretty. Running backs Justin Fargas and ReShard Lee combined for 14 carries for 34 yards. The Raiders' median run on the day was two yards, and the most common result was zero -- Fargas got stuffed at the line three times. Quarterback Aaron Brooks was sacked four times, hit while throwing six times and pressured on most of his other dropbacks.

The most talented Oakland offensive lineman is probably right tackle Langston Walker. (This is like talking about "the youngest Golden Girl.") Walker is massive and surprisingly quick for his size, and if run-blocking were the only important part of a lineman's job, I might even describe him as a good player. On a first-and-10 sweep around the right end by Fargas, Walker led the way with a great kickout block on Cincinnati's strongside linebacker, Rashad Jeanty. It was very impressive to see a guy Walker's size have the quickness to get out in front of a play like that.

But pass blocking was another story. On second-and-7 in the first quarter, Brooks had to hurry his throw because the blitzing Kevin Kaesviharn was pressuring him. Kaesviharn came around the corner, but Walker didn't seem to see him. Walker blocked down when he should have looked to stop the rush from the outside, and that gave Kaesviharn a clear path.

Late in the first quarter, Walker gave up the Raiders' first sack when he was matched one-on-one with defensive end Robert Geathers. When Geathers won the individual matchup, Brooks rolled to the left, but Geathers caught him from behind for the sack. Justin Smith, the end on the other side of the line, helped collapse the pocket by knocking left tackle Chad Slaughter back.

On passing plays, Smith and Geathers generally did whatever they wanted. Geathers finished the day with two sacks, and Smith hit Brooks as he passed three times. Slaughter is a 6-foot-8, 340-pounder who had started only one game in his career before this season. Smith was too much for him. On a third-and-18, Slaughter just barely slowed Smith down, and Smith drilled Brooks as he threw. (Surprisingly, Brooks delivered a nice pass to Alvis Whitted, who beat Cincinnati cornerback Johnathan Joseph for a 19-yard gain.) Slaughter was pressed into duty at left tackle this season when Robert Gallery went down, and he clearly doesn't belong there. A guy that big can always find a job in the NFL, but a team that wants its quarterback to stay healthy won't start Slaughter at left tackle.

As inexperienced as Slaughter is, he's actually a more seasoned player than the Raiders' pair of rookie guards, Paul McQuistan and Kevin Boothe. Boothe was terrible. On a first-and-10, Fargas tried to run behind Boothe, but Boothe never budged Sam Adams at all, and Jeanty brought him down for no gain. I was very impressed with Jeanty, a first-year NFL player from Central Florida who spent the last three years up north with the Edmonton Eskimos. He was injured for the whole month of October, and it's not a coincidence that the Bengals' defense has improved as Jeanty has gotten more playing time in recent weeks.

Boothe, a rookie from Cornell, seemed to have communication problems with Walker, the tackle next to him. Cincinnati's second sack came on a third-and-7 late in the second quarter. Domata Peko lined up at left defensive end opposite Walker, while Geathers lined up at left defensive tackle opposite Boothe. At first both Oakland linemen made their blocks, but then Geathers looped to the outside, and that's where Walker and Boothe got confused. The correct move would have been for Walker to take Geathers on the outside and allow Boothe to take Peko to the inside. Instead, Walker stayed with Peko, and Geathers got to the outside with Boothe unable to slow him down. Geathers chased Brooks out of the pocket and sacked him for a loss of three.

In the third quarter the Raiders went for it on fourth-and-1 with a handoff to ReShard Lee. The play called for Lee to go over the left tackle, but Boothe, lined up at right guard, did such a bad job on Sam Adams that Adams brought Lee down from the backside. It was an absolutely horrid block from Boothe. He hardly even laid a finger on Adams. I hope he personally apologized to Lee after the play.

McQuistan is a rookie from Weber State who looks more like a tackle than a guard. He had a false start in the first quarter, but other than that I thought he turned in a fairly solid game. In fact, if I were Shell, I'd be tempted to give McQuistan a shot at left tackle, where Slaughter isn't getting the job done. McQuistan might not be up to the task just yet, but a rookie from Weber State probably has a lot more room for growing on the job than a sixth-year player who has bounced around the league like Slaughter.

Center Jake Grove looks like a decent player who could be pretty good if he had better teammates. On a second-and-5 pass, Grove did a great job in one-on-one blocking on Adams. The whole line held up on the play, actually, but these are the Raiders we're talking about, so Brooks' pass bounced off the hands of tight end Randal Williams and into the hands of middle linebacker Brian Simmons for an interception.

When Grove didn't play well, it often looked like he was having more communications problems with the rookie guards on either side of him. On a second-and-4 in the second quarter, defensive end Bryan Robinson rushed directly between Grove and Boothe. Grove got a slow first step, and Boothe never even seemed to notice Robinson, who rushed straight at Brooks and forced him to throw the ball away.

That's the second time I've mentioned communications problems with the two rookies. Although all rookies have a period of adjusting to the NFL, when you watch linemen who don't seem to know their assignments, it's hard not to blame the coaches. I agree with Ron Jaworski: On the offensive line, it's not always about talent. It's about communication and understanding between the five guys on the line, with the tight end and fullback working in harmony.

Of course, the blocking problems in Oakland aren't limited to the offensive line. The Raiders' tight ends did a lousy job blocking as well. On a second-and-4 handoff to Fargas, Oakland lined up with two tight ends to the right, Williams and Courtney Anderson. Williams missed his block on Jeanty completely, allowing Jeanty to hit Fargas behind the line of scrimmage, and Anderson didn't hold his block long enough, allowing Simmons to finish the tackle.

In addition to spreading some blame around to the tight ends, let's not pretend the protection problems are all the blockers' fault. It just wouldn't be an Aaron Brooks game without the patented 15-step drop. On a third-and-8, Brooks took a shotgun snap. When Justin Smith beat Slaughter and got in Brooks' face, Brooks backpedaled. When he finally set up to pass, he was 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage and had three Bengals in his face. He heaved the ball in the air, and Simmons knocked it down immediately for an incompletion. That is about the best result possible when Brooks starts to backpedal, but it's best not to do it at all.

The big question mark for the Raiders' line is Robert Gallery, the third-year player who was the most highly touted offensive line prospect in years when the Raiders drafted him out of Iowa. Gallery has been injured for much of this season and missed Sunday's game, and when he has played it hasn't been pretty. His failure to develop into a solid player is a major disappointment for the Raiders, and his contract is a major strain on their salary cap.

It's too late to hope Gallery will turn into the player the Raiders thought he would be, and unless he'll agree to a team-friendly restructuring of his contract in the off-season, it's time for the Raiders to sever ties with him. All hope isn't lost for the entire line, though. Walker and Grove seem salvageable, and McQuistan looks like he could turn into a good player. That leaves two spots on the line that the Raiders need to address in the off-season. But can the current brain trust in Oakland be counted on to fill those spots wisely? If not, we could be in for more Aaron Brooks backpedaling in 2007.

Each week, Michael David Smith looks at one specific player or one aspect of a team on every single play of the previous game. Standard caveat applies: Yes, one game is not necessarily an indicator of performance over the entire season.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 13 Dec 2006

50 comments, Last at 17 Dec 2006, 2:31am by Ray J

Comments

1
by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:03pm

For as much as we talk about skill-position players being busts, Gallery is probably one of the biggest draft quandaries I can remember. There was nothing, and I mean nothing, negative said about this guy coming out of college. Peter King basically said that he'd be an all-pro for 15 years in one of his columns, and every supposed draftnik was high on the selection. How could so many scouts, personnel managers, and sportswriters be dead wrong about an offensive lineman?! Talk about screwing the pooch!

2
by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:10pm

#1: Simple - he went to Oakland. Put him somewhere else, he's probably just fine.

3
by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:13pm

2:

It's not that simple. They did an EPC on him - he's a very poor lineman. I guess you can say that Oakland's environment and staff are not conducive to success, but didn't this guy have a modicum of natural talent to be taken that highly? He must have, the way they were crowning his ass.

4
by PackMan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:14pm

It will be interesting to see where Gallery goes in the offseason. Maybe they'll package him with some picks to Miami in exchange for Culpepper.

5
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:15pm

If communication and understanding is more important than talent, could o-line problems be fixed with coaching instead of new players? I think bringing in a highly-respected position coach is the second step. The first should be replacing Shell with Ryan as the head coach. Then find a QB who won't sack himself.

6
by Rocco (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:26pm

Since I was one of the people requesting it- thanks, MDS. I think you earned martyr points today.

7
by PackMan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:26pm

5.
Yes, look at the Packers this year. Their oline should be horrible with 2 rookie guards, but they have been decent, which I think is mostly due to coaching.

8
by StereoChemistry (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:35pm

Re 5: Before this year, I hadn't given it much thought, but seeing guys like Hudson Houck come in and get immediate results in a new location, or the new Oline coach for the Saints get so much out of mostly the same players, a castoff Cleveland Browns Center, and a rookie guard. And then as a Bucs fan suffer through more Oline issues with the supposedly "genius" that is Bill Muir, I think coaching may have a bigger impact than we give it credit for.

You still need talent, but it does appear that as a group it's one area that coaching up can really pay off.

Hell, Simeon Rice got absolutely stonewalled by a replacement LT when the Saints played the Bucs in Tampa. And not just a backup LT: the guy was a late round draft pick, playing in his first ever NFL game, and had NEVER PLAYED THE LT SPOT before in his career (only RT). It's starting to make more sense if that Oline coach could properly prepare the kid to come in and play for the first time in a big game on the road like that.

I'm really hoping the Bucs let Muir go this season and hopefully Aaron Kromar can get out of our Olinemen what he was able to get out of the Oakland Raiders when he was there.

9
by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:37pm

I'll say it this way - Oakland does not, as a rule, have a history with coaching success or coaching staff success. Oakland repeatedly recruits players with issues that are also massively physically talented individuals. Sometimes that pays off - especially at positions where individual skill is more important that group skill and technique.

At OLine, that's not going to pay off.

Gallery might've been a good player somewhere where he could be shown better fundamentals and dealt with more, but Oakland's football attitude is all messed up.

10
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 1:51pm

Actually, Gallery impressed me this year. Not the first game v. SD, he was pretty lousy then, but in the later Raider games I saw he looked like the best O-lineman. He was amazing at Iowa, no clue what's happened in the NFL.

11
by Jay (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:00pm

I'm sure people have looked into it, but I wonder what the breakdown among positions is for the likelihood of busting with a top five/ten pick. Top five is almost always QB/WR/DL/LT, with WR sometimes being there as well. Top ten gets into more LB/S/TE recently.

Going through the years, it's too early to say anything about Ferguson, Gallery was a bust in 04, Mike Williams was a bust in 02, Leonard Davis was a bust in 01, Chris Samuels did well in 2000, Pace is a HOFer in 97, Ogden is a HOFer in 96, Boselli was a fantastic player in 95, Mandarich was a bust in 89, (drafted right before Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, and Deion Sanders...oof) Paul Gruber had a long but unrecognized career in 88, and that's every OT drafted in the top five in the past 20 years.

Breaking it down:
Obviously worthy:
Samuels
Pace
Ogden
Boselli

Worth it, but not fantastic:
Gruber

Not worth it:
Gallery
Williams
Davis
Mandarich

It's a bit hard to value since OT don't grown on trees, so I'm wondering about the replacement value of someone like Leonard Davis, who at least occupies (a metric ton) of space. However, you're basically batting 50%. Anyone else want to do the analysis for other positions?

12
by Yuri (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:14pm

Jay: Top five is almost always QB/WR/DL/LT, with WR sometimes being there as well.

I assume the first WR was meant to be RB.

13
by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:19pm

MDS, nice going. A Lions fan, and watching the Raiders for a living. And I thought sports writing was a cool job.

I know you were watching the line in particular, but are Oakland still calling lots of slow-developing 7-step drop passing plays, and if so, is this a major part of their problem?

Jay, one omission from your list: Walter Jones, drafted @ #6 in 1997. One more player for your "worth it" list, and possibly a Hall of Famer.

14
by David S (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:25pm

I kinda agree with NewsToTom. Shawne Merriman completely destroyed Gallery in the first game of the season. This after looking mad awful in the preseason. But after that I thought he was fairly competent on the left side. He didn't dominate people at the line and pancake everyone, but he did the essential duty of keeping his assignment out of the play the majority of the time.

Also, about Jake Grove, he's now their long snapper, and is part of Seabass' inconsistency lately. He is awful at long snapping. The announce team and production truck did a good job of chronically this on Sunday. After the missed FG and a bad snap on a PAT I noticed some errant shotgun snaps that Brooks had to fish out of the dirt, too.

15
by Jay (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:28pm

Yuri, you're right. I meant that first WR to be RB, obviously. Also, I didn't list Walter Jones, who's obviously worth it, since he wasn't drafted in the top 5.

16
by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:49pm

Jay,

I saw the top 5/10 and missed the part where your limit linemen to the Top 5. Sorry.

17
by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:51pm

Good article, as always. It must be incredibly frustrating to do o-line analysis from network camera angles.

On SNF, there was a great replay of the Karney rushing TD where you could step thru the footage and see the blocking scheme. If you still have it available on DVR/VCR it's worth watching how the play is blocked.

In contrast, on MNF, the replay of Stephen Davis' 4-and-1 carry for 16 yards to the one-yard line was terrible. It zoomed into a closeup of Davis taking it thru the hole so that you could not see how the play was blocked.

I'm not an expert on line play, and rarely focus on it, but on short yardage plays I sometimes like to see how the blocking works. And if there were more coverage of it, I'd know more and perhaps be more interested.

18
by Grim Jim (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 2:58pm

I don't know how the game charters handle the monday night game. During the "celebrity" interview they never show the field in between plays. Do I really have to see the lesser Belushi, or Christian Slater, surely they can just talk in the background.

19
by wr (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 3:24pm

re 18: Maybe they're able use
Marv & Boomer's radio call when
ESPN can't be bothered to show
the action.

20
by MdM (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 4:20pm

RE: Charles "crowning his ass"

I am not sick of that joke yet, it still cracks me up!

21
by CA (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 4:34pm

Two words: Joe Thomas.

22
by RecoveringPackerFan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 4:47pm

The importance of coaching on the O-line really shouldn't be a surprise. While blocking is a skill, a replacement lineman can probably block adequately on most plays. The difficult thing is getting the linemen, backs, and tight ends to work together so that everyone knows and executes their assignment at the same time.

23
by Justin Singer (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 5:10pm

I really think bad offensive line coaching could be the main culprit for the Raiders' struggles this season. I went to high school with Kevin Boothe (he was 2 years younger and friends with my brother). We went to Pine Crest, an outstanding school in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and he went to Cornell for college. He is a very intelligent kid, and is probably one of the smartest players in the NFL. Obviously I do not know if this is truly the case, but knowing Boothe's roots I cannot imagine that he wouldnt be in the upper echelon. Therefore, if he was getting the proper coaching, I feel he could be a serviceable NFL guard. Or maybe he just sucks and cannot physically handle the role. Maybe if Robert Gallery signs with someone else this offseason and becomes a Pro Bowler will we truly know the answer.

24
by J.D. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 5:17pm

#11: I just did a breakdown for the last 20 drafts (1986-2005), with top 5 QBs, RBs, and DLs ranked in one of three categories: Star, OK, or Bust. Here's my tally:

QB Stars (8): P.Rivers, C.Palmer, M.Vick, D.McNabb, P.Manning, S.McNair, D.Bledsoe, T.Aikman
QB OKs (6): Alex Smith, E.Manning, D.Carr, K.Collins, V.Testaverde, J.Everett
QB Busts (7): J.Harrington, T.Couch, Akili Smith, R.Leaf, H.Shuler, R.Mirer, J.George

RB Stars (6): R.Brown, L.Tomlinson, J.Lewis, E.James, M.Faulk, B.Sanders
RB OKs (4): C.Benson, C.Williams, R.Williams, G.Hearst
RB Busts (5): C.Enis, K.Carter, B.Thomas, A.Highsmith, B.Fullwood

DL Stars (5): J.Peppers, S.Rice, C.Kennedy, D.Thomas, N.Smith
DL OKs (6): J.Smith, D.Wilkinson, S.Gilbert, R.Maryland, T.Casillas
DL Busts (10): D.Robertson, G.Warren, C.Brown, A.Wadsworth, D.Russell, C.Jones, J.Copeland, S.Emtman, K.McCants, A.Bruce

Bottom line is that for QBs and RBs, you have about a 33% chance of the player becoming a star, an OK starter, or a bust (although RBs may be slightly safer, since Highsmith and Fullwood in 1987 skew the numbers). But DLs are much less safe, with only 5 stars in the last 20 years and about a 50% chance of the pick becoming a bust.

What does this mean? I don't know. But it seems like teams picking in the top 5 are better off swinging for the fences with a high-impact position like QB or RB than "playing it safe" by taking a LT or, heaven forbid, a DL, especially considering the cap ramifications.

25
by CA (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 5:31pm

Re: 24

Your datasets are far too subjective and your sample size far too small for you to make any meaningful conclusions. Also, I completely reject your assertion that RB is a "high-impact position," with the implication that LT or DL is not. Echoing Michael Lewis in The Blind Side, I would argue that LT has become the second most important position in the modern NFL, behind only QB. It is becoming increasingly evident that RB, in contrast, is a less significant position than it traditionally has been considered. Most RBs can be replaced fairly easily (witness James / Addai in Indianapolis), and rushing is overrated by the many football observers who believe the fallacy that rushing causes winning rather than the reverse.

26
by Erik (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 5:52pm

Robert Gallery is not going to be a hall of fame left tackle. He does not have the quickness of first-step to play LT in the NFL. That does not mean that the situation with him is hopeless. He still can be a great right tackle, or even left guard. Someone has to be the Gene Upshaw on the next great Raider offensive line. Looks like Gallery is not the Art Shell.

Let's say that Oakland takes Joe Thomas, Sam Baker, Jake Long, or Levi Brown in the first round, either with their pick, a trade down, or picks obtained in trade for players such as Jerry Porter or Randy Moss, other draft picks, or combinations of the same. The OL situation could be stabilized. (Ok, all of you tell me how New England would not give up the better of the Seattle pick or its own pick for Randy Moss...)

We have a first round pick who will have to learn on the job at LT.

We have a high first round pick who could either go back to RT or to LG.

We have McQuistan who could play RG, LG, or probably RT.

Langston Walker does not have the quickness to play tackle. He is fast, not quick, oh yes, and he is big.

Boothe is in over his head right now, but ought to be able to develop into a decent backup. Sims can probably play any non-C line position, but at his age, probably as a backup.

Once LT is fixed, something can be worked out. Art Shell, Jackie Slater, and Irv Eatman know what needs to be done. Heck, sometimes when I look at Art Shell on the sidelines, I think maybe *he* could go out and do better for a series.

27
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 6:03pm

Mike Tice has received a ton of ridicule over the past couple years, but the guy can coach blocking schemes EXTREMELY well, and he is doing another terrific job of it in Jacksonville this season. Del Rio was very, very, wise to bring him in as assistant head coach, at a salary that exceeded what Tice made as head coach in Minny.

28
by Moridin (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 6:04pm

I've wonder this a few times, but people say LT is vastly important. Is this because of right handed quarterbacks and their blind side? Doesn't this mean that left handed quarterbacks (like Leinart I believe) would need the RT to be the best?

29
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 6:27pm

28: That is true. The RT for a left-handed QB is the most important position, and the defense' best DE will usually line up on the blind-side of a QB. Some DEs aren't comfortable switching, and won't switch when facing a southpaw.

30
by Moridin (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 6:35pm

Expanding on 28, wouldn't also having a backup being different handed than the start cause some difficulties with the o-line and protection when they switch (injury, benched).

31
by Grim Jim (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 6:40pm

The tight end generally lines up next to the right tackle, the left is in space by himself. I couldn't really say whether or not teams with lefty QBs flip that tendency.

32
by Carlos (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 6:58pm

Is Chris Samuels really a "great" lineman? I've always wondered, since the pro bowl votes would indicate that his peers think he is (although I would not concede that they're really qualified to say). But my observation of him is that he's never been able to handle a good DE one-on-one in pass blocking.

33
by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 7:54pm

#13 - Cracked me up. Seriously, that is a bad combination MDS.

In regards to Gallery, most of the posts here have talked about his lack of technique, with one mentioned the propensity of the Raiders to draft athletes and hope that they work out. An article I read elsewhere that said that Gallery was rated so high coming out of Iowa because they coached him up with technique, and that the lovefest that draftniks had with him was based on the misconception of unlimited potential.

34
by rollo (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 8:44pm

Great point on Tice. Its simply amazing to see how much he's changed the blocking scheme to take advantage of the available talent. The Jaguars run a nifty trap block which takes advantage of Center Brad Meester's quickness and Guard Chris Naeole's power when moving, a Tice innovation which has led to the #1 ranking in runs up the middle. He's an excellent position coach who was promoted one rung too high.

35
by jetsgrumbler (not verified) :: Wed, 12/13/2006 - 10:28pm

Question on O-line play:

Why not rotate lineman during a game the way defenses rotate d-lineman to keep them fresh? At the end of the bills game on sunday, the entire jets 0-line looked extremely tired, especially D'brick.

i understand that the o-line needs to work together as a unit, and timing and chemistry are especially important. but, every other position on the field gets significantly more rest--d-line often rotate, LB's come out in nickel/dime packages, backs and receivers have plays they aren't involved in...it seems that the run game, in particular, might be a lot stronger if the lineman were fresh at the end of a game. i don't see how rotating in another player who is given sufficient practice time would ruin timing and chemistry. for the jets this could work with just one extra player next year, since trey teague can play at both tackles and center.

any thoughts?

36
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 1:11am

32: Speaking as someone from Washington, I believe that Samuels is a great asset in run blocking, and only a very minor liability in pass blocking, making him a good tackle overall.

He's definitely a step down from Pace, Ogden, and Boselli, but still a good top five selection. Remember that most top selections don't live up to the unreasonable expectations people have. The Redskins had two top five picks that year. They got Lavar Arrington and Chris Samuels. Sure, neither one became the league-best players the Redskins thought they would be, but those guys were selected right in between Courtney Brown and Peter Warrick.

37
by Carlos (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 4:23am

36: Interesting, thx. I agree with your assessment on run vs. pass blocking.

I didn't mean to imply that he was a "bust" or anything like it as a draft choice. Only that I was always surprised to see him voted to the Pro Bowl. Oh, and I think he's overpaid. But, for the sake of discussion, there definitely exists a reasoned world in which Samuels is both overrated and overpaid but a pretty good top 5 draft pick.

38
by Andrew Cascini (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 4:37am

An EPC on D'Brickashaw Ferguson would be fantastic.

Jets fans the world over are divided on his play.

39
by the K (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 7:39am

I don't have any kind of huge smaple size or enhanced analysis, but I took the extra time to watch Ferguson during the Bills game on Sunday (when network TV allowed it) and he seems like he will be a very good player. He's got quick feet and good power. There was one play, a pass to Coles just behind the line of scrimmage, which was sort of like a screen, but Ferguson was the only lineman out in front, and he threw a great block on Nate Clements to give Coles room for a 14-15 yard gain. He's probably got some learning to do, especially in pass blocking (Schobel terrorized Pennington on many plays) but I think he's going to be a Pro Bowl LT for sure.

40
by Erik (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 10:22am

Raiders claim Gabriel on Waivers

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2696845

Looks like the Raiders got a free fifth round pick out of the whole thing.

41
by Brooklyn Bengal (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 12:24pm

Who dey! It's good to see the Bengals get a little love on the site, even if it is only in relation to beating up on the Raiders. Still, it was only a month or so ago that we failed to put down the Bucs, so improvement is improvement.

I was surprised to read the MDS thinks Rashad Jeanty is a big reason for the Bengals' newly tough D. I thought it was more the return of Dexter Jackson and the addition of Caleb Miller, but I'll keep my eye on Jeanty. Thanks for the info!

42
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 12:32pm

rollo, I wouldn't say for for sure whether Tice can or can't be a good NFL head coach. He did probably got the job a little too soon; he had only been in coaching few years. Once there, however, he was saddled with management that simply would not invest capital consistent with running a successful NFL coaching staff. I seriously doubt whether anybody would have succeeded in that environment.

43
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 12:36pm

jets grumbler, there are teams which use a rotation occasionally. The Vikings are doing it right now at the rt position, with some success, and they also used it successfully for a couple years at lg, when the Vikings were very productive offensively.

44
by Eddie Murray (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 2:32pm

24: This past spring, Tim Murray contributed an article to FO regarding draft success by round:
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/index.php?p=3828

45
by Old School Raidah (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 2:50pm

Gallery played well since the opening SD game? Are you guys serious? Gallery has been horrific all season. And yes, coaching for the O-Line as well as the rest of the team MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE in performance. Once players are vetted by scouts, they at least have minimal qualifications to play in the NFL. After that, character, coaching, etc take over.

I say this because we Raidah fans have been bamboozled into thinking that all that matters is being BIG and FAST. This is why this franchise is an absolute joke right now. Need an example? Notice the article's take on the poor blocking of Williams and Anderson? That is a common refrain for both players yet Shell et al try to make you think that these guys have some type of ability. Puhleeze. They can't even catch the ball consistently- a must for a TE.

This team either is incompetent in player evaluations or just plays favorites (re: Al Davis influence). Neither Anderson nor Williams have looked as good as Madsen at TE. I hope he goes somewhere where he can get some coaching and develop. Won't happen in Oakland. We are an embarassment.

46
by KJ (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 4:27pm

Still, I'm not going to let this article dissuade me from starting Fargas this week at home vs the Rams! (answer to obvious question: Portis, Brown, and Maroney are hurt)

47
by NY expat (not verified) :: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 10:25pm

Perhaps what's oddest about the Raiders OL performance is that they were actually not embarrassing last year -- ALY = 4.06 (rank 17), power success = 64% (16), adj. sack rate of 7.5%. Anyone know if Barry Sims was that much better as an LT than Gallery? (Sims was switched to LG this season, and now is, depending on who you ask, still recovering from an abdominal strain or being phased out of their plans since he is due a $4.5M bonus if he's on the roster next March)

48
by Pete (not verified) :: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 1:43pm

Being a great player does not make someone a great coach. I suspect Oakland's (and Arizona's) problem could indeed be a problem with good, consistent coaching along the Offensive Line. It may also be the wrong set of players, combined with inconsistencies. Gallery may make a great Right Tackle, even if he is not Hall Of Fame material at Left Tackle. Leonard Davis may even make an above-average Guard, but that would probably require a pay cut.

This is something that makes me laugh when people complain about racial parity in Head Coaching for the NFL. The majority of players in the NFL are indeed not caucasion, while the majority of Head Coaches are caucasion. People who argue this forget that blacks only make up about 10-15% of the American populace and may only represent a little more than that when looking at High School football participation.

Yes, some players have a greater concentration of fast-twitch muscles. This allows many of them to better runners and sprinters, which allows them to be better cornerbacks and runningbacks and wide receivers. Caucasions, on the other hand, tend to have higher concentration of slow-twitch muscles. This allows for greater performance in anerobic activities, including weight-lifting (strongman competitions) and swimming. This makes for a possible fit on the Line. The difference in the types of muscles and bodyfat tend to make blacks 3-5 times as likely to suffer from cold exposure and frostbite, while whites are much more likely to suffer from heat exhaustion. These are just general trends and not absolutes. There can be fast white players who enjoy a hot summer day and there are certainly plenty of strong black players who enjoy the cold.

By comparison, coaching football does not necessarily require that a player can run 40 yards in 4.3 seconds. It may require a different set of tools and opens up competition for different or larger group of people. I believe that the current set of successful head coaches (Indy, Arizona, etc.) represent a closer average to the general populace.

49
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Sat, 12/16/2006 - 12:59am

Ok, all of you tell me how New England would not give up the better of the Seattle pick or its own pick for Randy Moss…

Glad to be of help: "New England would not give up the better of the Seattle pick or its own pick for Randy Moss."

The Pats need too much help on defense to spend a first rounder on a WR.

50
by Ray J (not verified) :: Sun, 12/17/2006 - 2:31am

35 Here's several reasons reasons why O-linemen aren't typically rotated to the same degree as DL's. Available roster space. Most teams have 1.5 times as many DL and LB's combined than they have OL. The reactionary nature of the position vs. the attack mode of their counterparts mandates a greater need for consistency and cohesion, and the fact most OL's are less flexible in how they can be used in game situations (DE's can move inside or to LB in certain situations. I think ideally most teams would prefer to only need to carry 10-12 OL so they can load up in other spots.