The Week 11 edition of the Only 1 Nation mailbag, answering questions from Twitter following the Oakland Raiders 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots.
Welcome to the Week 11 edition of the Only 1 Nation mailbag, where we answer questions from Twitter about all things Oakland Raiders.
Following the 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots, #RaiderNation had plenty on their mind. The loss was embarrassing and Ken Norton Jr. was fired two days later. So let’s get right into the questions.
Note: Some of the questions were duplicates or similar to other questions that had already been asked. If you don’t see your question specifically responded to, that is likely the reason why.
how much would Mr. Davis have to eat to fire JDR?
Why didn't we claim Jalen Collins off waivers?
— Po 🇺🇸 Clinton Hill (@poewing) November 22, 2017
I’ll start with the Jalen Collins question. He just came off of a 10-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He served a four-game suspension last year, and if he commits a third PED violation, he would be suspended for at least 24 months.
He’s talented but troubled, and although I’d be okay with bringing him on board, I can understand why McKenzie wouldn’t want to. The Raiders are in desperate need of help at cornerback, but your best ability is your availability. Teams likely want to talk to his agent and him to get to know him first before brining him into the mix.
Now, for the second part about JDR. Most salaries for NFL head coaches aren’t disclosed, so there are only educated guesses out there in regard to how much money Jack Del Rio makes. Word is he was among the lowest paid head coaches in the league prior to the extension, which per the team, his old contract was “torn up” and he was rewarded with a four-year deal.
That means that after this year, there are three more years left on his new deal. Let’s say Jack is now middle-of-the-pack among his peers in terms of his salary — that would put him in the ballpark of $5 million annually. Times three years equals $15 million, and if that figure is close, Mark Davis will probably have to eat most of, if not all of, that money if he were to fire Del Rio after the season.
My gut tells me that even if the Raiders stumble to a 5-11 finish, Davis will not fire Del Rio after the season. There is precedent for coaches being fired the first season after a new extension — Jeff Fisher and Brad Childress are two examples — but both of those team owners are much more well-off than Davis.
The only way Del Rio gets fired after the season, in my opinion, is if he loses the locker room. If multiple key players voice their displeasure with Jack directly to Reggie McKenzie and/or Mark Davis, then a change might have to be made.
Any realistic ways Pagano can improve this defense?
— Moe 6LACK (@avocadochrome) November 22, 2017
There is also a hope, even if it’s only sliver of hope, that things will improve when a fresh face enters the mix. Pagano’s presence thus far hasn’t helped, but there is only speculation as to what his involvement has been to this point. Maybe he’s given complete control and the defends positively responds to any changes he implements.
But Norton Jr. apparently was immensely popular in the locker room, given the reaction at practice following news of his firing. So it’s certainly possible this firing backfires and things only get worse from here.
As far as what might change under Pagano, the expectation is that he’ll blitz more often than Norton did. But Del Rio said in a presser that there won’t be major scheme changes, which says everything that there is to say. This is Del Rio’s show, and he needs to be held accountable for it.
Can pagano play calling make up for the lack of talent in the secondary?
— Emiliano Barajas (@SJnanoShark) November 22, 2017
Pagano has primarily working with the secondary — the same secondary that has set an NFL record for longest drought in NFL history without an interception. So it’s hard to be optimistic about things changing when this is the guy who is now in charge.
Even if Pagano had some ideas that could help, the secondary is so banged up right now that it really might not even matter. One thing that is within his control is benching Reggie Nelson for Shalom Luani. If he can maximize the talent that is still there at safety, perhaps he can hide some of the weakness at CB. But temper your expectations.
Why is everyone so high on Musgrave, offenses were ranked 24th and 6th in his 2 years, one good year doesn't make a trend, Downing offense is ranked 21st this year so he could have a Top 5 Offense next year if it trends right
— Carlos J Claudio (@CL_AudioRaider) November 22, 2017
Progression, not regression. Musgrave’s improvement year over year was drastic in all facets, from his creativity, opening up the playbook more and his situational play-calling. He wasn’t perfect, but the offense took a huge step forward under his watch, and he does deserve his fair share of credit for that.
Downing, on the other hand, has taken the dynamic offense and brought it to a screeching halt. It only took three games into the season for the offense to go on a four-game nose dive, and they’ve only shown serious flashes of life once since then. He’s never called plays at any level during his coaching career, not even high school, and he’s clearly in over his head. Maybe he’ll be a solid coordinator one day, but he doesn’t feel anywhere close right now.
Would we be looking ahead for the draft? CB?
— Alex Bocanegra (@Homewiththekidz) November 22, 2017
The Raiders aren’t eliminated from playoff contention yet, and thanks to how bad the AFC is, they still have a fighting chance. But the schedule is brutal, and they’ll need to handle their own business plus get some help in order to get in.
So it does feel like draft season is just around the corner. And right up there towards the top of list of needs is a cornerback. Gareon Conley feels like the only corner that might be on this roster even two years from now, although a small extension for T.J. Carrie wouldn’t be surprising.
But what doesn’t get talked about enough, and in my opinion is a bigger need, is a second pass rusher. Khalil Mack can’t do it alone, and Bruce Irvin might not be here next season. Above all else, you have to be able to get after the quarterback, and the Raiders are the worst in the league at that.
Oakland could have a top ten pick, and a couples names to keep tabs on are Minkah Fitzpatrick, Joshua Jackson, Denzel Ward, Bradley Chubb, Arden Key and Clelin Ferrell.
If JDR would get fired after this season (highly unlikely) who would you want as head coach? Also, think hue would be a good fit as OC?
— estos nueses (@Sauuulllito) November 22, 2017
It seems like this upcoming crop of head coaching candidates might not be a good one. So there isn’t any one potential candidate that stands out to me, should the Raiders be on the hunt for a new head coach. A few names I like are Josh McDaniels, Teryl Austin, Dave Toub, Frank Reich, John Morton and Mike Vrabel.
Yes, Hue Jackson would be a great offensive coordinator. Head coaching hasn’t worked out for him, but he is still one of the best offensive minds in football. But McKenzie already fired him in favor of Dennis Allen, so don’t expect a reunion.
Why do the football gods hate us?
— Matt Lucas (@mattnjas_RN4L) November 22, 2017
I ask myself this same question every day.
I recognize that coaches have families and such and rely on their salaries. I'm never happy for anyone to lose their job. Who do you think is most culpable for the shortcomings this year? Players? Coaches? GM?
— (((Ross Felix))) (@DatingRev) November 22, 2017
Love the firing, but the d has been trash for years. Are we willing to admit there are deep systemic issues that go well beyond KNJ?
— Lord Ruthven (@orderofdracul) November 22, 2017
Both the above questions are fairly similar, basically asking about how is to blame for the current mess to that the Raiders are in. The short answer is everyone.
The long answer is that most of the blame should fall on Jack Del Rio. As a defensive minded coach, it’s telling that the defense has now been awful for three years in a row.
Todd Downing has been the biggest problem this year, and the offense is primarily at fault for all six losses. But Del Rio chose him over Bill Musgrave, who wasn’t the problem with the team last year. It was a stupid decision then, and it’s a stupid decision now.
McKenzie has done well in building the offense, but he’s had several blunders on the defensive side of the ball. So he’s not free of blame from this, but the coaching staff has failed to develop really anyone. Just look at D.J. Hayden in Detroit, who by all accounts is having a solid season for the Lions. If that doesn’t tell you the biggest problem lies with the coaching staff, then nothing will.
Do you think we should cut Cooper post season? Production non existent this season and too many drops
— Conor O'Sullivan (@osullcn32) November 22, 2017
Absolutely not. It’s a down year but come on. He set NFL records his first two years. His offensive coordinator has been awful and his quarterback hasn’t played well either. He hasn’t performed by his own standards and shares blame in this, but it’s been a perfect storm of bad that has led to Coop’s down year.
As of now, top (realistic) free agent targets come march?
— Chandler (@CMillerNFL) November 22, 2017
And corresponding cuts? I posted a few candidates and their contracts yesterday but probably worth sharing with readers
— ROCK 🦃 THUNDERPUNCH (@RokThunderpunch) November 22, 2017
Two for one here — potential free agent targets and then which players might get cut:
The Raiders are going to have to pay Khalil Mack, so the money is going to get pretty tight this offseason. So don’t expect McKenzie to be a big spender. CB, OLB, Edge are the most likely positions to be targeted, so let’s take a look at one or two names at each position. Ideally, under 30 and low to mid salaries.
CBs Darius Butler and Davon House. OLBs Arthur Moats and Gerald Hodges. DEs Alex Okafor and Jared Crick.
No one flashy, but any notable names would be a surprise to me. OT is a long-term need, but team could roll with Donald Penn and Marshall Newhouse for another year, plus there is depth on the right side. Most will ask for a WR, but Seth Roberts and Patterson seem likely to stick as the no. 3 and no. 4 options. RB could be a need but Marshawn is running pretty well right now.
As far as corresponding cuts, I expect Sean Smith, Bruce Irvin and David Amerson to be sent packing. That’s $22.75 million in savings with no dead money. A few other smaller contracts could be cut, but those would be the big three.
How do you think we approach fixing this defense in the offseason?
— Jason Parker (@J_parker08) November 22, 2017
The emphasis of the offseason has to be on this side of the ball, with the draft being the primary source of the adding pieces.
A cornerback (probably two), an inside and an outside linebacker, a pass rusher (probably two) would be great. That’s six picks right there. For free agency, one DT, one cornerback and one pass rusher, one linebacker would be nice.
Bring back Mack, Edwards, Vanderdoes, Hester, Autry, Ellis, Bowman, James, Lee, Carrie, Conley, Joseph, Melifonwu, Luani. No on else should be safe.