Raiders 2013 season postmortem: Offense

The Raiders’ 2013 season is officially (and mercifully) over. We’ll be looking back at the team’s season in various installments this week. First up: the offense…

Let’s start with the receivers, whom I actually thought were a pleasant surprise this year. You look at the receiving corps and it’s sort of a head scratcher. Andre Holmes? Rod Streater? Where’s Barney the Dinosaur? It’s like the reactions those Cleveland Indians executives had at the beginning of “Major League” when the conniving owner Lew Wolff Rachel Phelps presented the list of scrubs she wanted to invite to spring training.

“This guy here is dead!”
“Cross him off, then!”

That’s one of the greatest exchanges of dialogue from that movie, and not something I totally would have ruled out happening to the Raiders when Al Davis was running the joint towards the end of his time.

But, anyway, the Raiders receivers. A bunch of good-for-nothing nobodies. That is, until Streater piled up 888 yards on the year and Holmes came out of nowhere to put up 366 yards in the final five games of the season. Mychal Rivera also showed promise as a pass catching tight end. Again, they’re all solid pieces to have around, but the Raiders still need that dynamic, consistent, explosive playmaker receiver who’s a threat anywhere on the field. Denarius Moore has shown potential of being that guy, but his biggest issue is consistency while 2013 overall was a down year for him, thanks in part to injuries.

It would help, though, if the receivers had a reliable guy throwing them the football, which leads us to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid…

There’s a saying in football that I very much agree with: “When you have two starting quarterbacks you have none.” I’m sure Bill Parcells is the person who came up with that along time ago, only there were more swear words involved and was angrily shouted at a reporter who asked about his quarterback situation.

By virtue of this maxim, the Raiders, between Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin, head into the offseason with zero quarterbacks. I don’t think the Raiders have any preference between Pryor and McGloin, and who can blame them? At this point it’s not that much different than asking somebody if they’d rather be lit on fire or have their hand smashed by a hammer. McGloin played decently for somebody who was an undrafted rookie who wasn’t even supposed to make the team. But the question with him is regarding how high his ceiling goes. Pyor, who surprised everybody with his strong start to the campaign after stealing the starting job away from Matt Flynn in training camp, had an up and down season and still lacks some of the tools that would make him more of a complete NFL quarterback. But, as a credit to his perseverance and dedication, any time you try to write him off, he ends up proving you wrong. I can see a scenario develop in which McGloin and Pryor are among the quarterbacks at training camp next year, with decisions to be made then. But perhaps more likely is the team moving on from Pryor in the offseason, either by trade or releasing him, which I’m sure Pryor’s agent will love.

As for the backfield, it appears the Raiders have found somebody consistent and, most important, durable to be their feature back in Rashad Jennings. Naturally, he’s an unrestricted free agent, who, as life goes, will probably end up signing a lucrative contract with a team other than the Raiders. Meantime, perpetual injury list bullet point Darren McFadden, who through his six years of NFL service has nothing to buck the trend that highly drafted running backs, with the exception of a few outliers, go on to have disappointing careers, is likely looking for new employment. Dancing in the streets will commence on Broadway in Downtown Oakland this Friday evening.

That leaves us with the offensive line, which was revolving door of names this season thanks mostly to injuries. The o-line was probably the Raiders weakest unit on the entire team. You need a formidable line if you want better play out of you quarterbacks. And unfortunately the one piece on the line that’s actually worth building around, left tackle/abnormally large human being Jared Veldheer, is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Overall grade: C-

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