Question: Why has Tui not been given a fair chance to start in a game, with the exception of the one start last year? Has his performance in practice not been up to par or what?
-- Jason Cole, Bloomfield, Iowa
Answer: Marques Tuiasosopo’s chances of ever being a starter ended the day Jon Gruden left for Tampa Bay. Tui was Gruden’s draft choice, and when Bill Callahan was fired two seasons later, there went Tuiasosopo’s playing time.
The offense Al Davis loves isn’t the kind Tuiasosopo should be in, so he won’t get on the field. That’s why the Raiders have brought in Kerry Collins, Aaron Brooks and drafted Andrew Walter with Tuiasosopo still on the roster.
Tuiasosopo should be playing in the West Coast offense Gruden, not in the Raiders system that wants to go deep with passes.
It would be unfair to assess Tuiasosopo’s efforts in practice because he worked with the third team most of training camp. It’s hard to make an impression when you are throwing passes to players who are going to be cut.
And think about this. If the starting offensive line has played so poorly, imagine who blocked for Tuiasosopo.
But this is probably Tuiasosopo’s last season with the Raiders. He’s in the last year of his contract. He was told last year he would get the last four games of the year to showcase his skills but got the one start against the Jets. That probably was enough to insure Tui won’t be back in 2007.
-- Jason Jones
Question: Robert Gallery, the second pick of the draft three years ago, is finally playing the left tackle position he was drafted to play. Players drafted that high on the board, especially franchise left tackles, are supposed to have developed by the third year. Orlando Pace, Jonathan Ogden and Tony Bosselli, to name a few, excelled at their positions early on. I can't help but lose optimisim for Gallery every time I watch him play. Do you think he'll be able to turn it around and become a perennial all pro tackle int his league?
-- Andrew, Elk Grove
Answer: Robert Gallery needs to get healthy and dominate unless he wants to be labeled this generation’s Tony Mandarich. Left tackles drafted as highly as Gallery are supposed to be cornerstones, not unable to beat out Barry Sims for the job for two seasons.
With his play in the first game, Gallery is closer to Mandarich than Walter Jones. For a guy his size (6-7, 325) Gallery is overpowered too often. But I’m willing to give Gallery the time to get healthy this season to prove he was worth the hype.
I can’t see Gallery becoming a perennial Pro Bowler right now, at least not until he proves he is the best offensive lineman on his team (which might be Sims).
-- Jason Jones
Question: Jason, there is a lot of talk out there, most notably by ESPN.com's Bill Simmons, of Coach Shell's game management skills particularly his apparent indifference on the sideline during the game. Do the players sense any of this and do you think that maybe the team needs a more "fiery" tempered coach leading this team?
-- Ed Matulis, Elk Grove
Answer: There’s nothing wrong with Shell’s sideline temperament. If the Raiders were 2-0 he would be praised for being a calming influence. A more “fiery” coach would have lost his voice yelling with the Raiders offensive line. The players haven’t expressed a problem with Shell along those lines.
Shell can be as loud anyone when he needs to be. I’ve seen him tear into players during practice. It’s just not his personality to rant on the sidelines.
As for Shell’s game management skills, teams that control the clock usually have a good offense. The Raiders can’t do that right now because their quarterbacks spend more time running for their lives than finding open receivers.
-- Jason Jones
Question: Would your boss allow you to wear a T-shirt that gave everyone the finger as he walked around the office? The Raiders find no fault with it, do you?
-- Jake, Dublin
Answer: I’m positive I couldn’t wear that around the office, but I’ll ask if it would be OK.
Jerry Porter has a collection of off-color T-shirts but took a liking to his one-fingered salute T-shirt as his problems with Raiders became more public during training camp. I didn’t like Porter wearing that shirt as children stood nearby for autographs, but that’s Porter. He has his immature moments.
The question lately is has the Raiders' desire to prove who is in charge made the organization just as immature as Porter.
With the offense almost unwatchable, it would seem a player with Porter’s ability might help. Keeping him on the sidelines and inactive for games only makes him a distraction. Not that Porter was acting up in Baltimore, but the Raiders will have to deal with questions about their "Commitment to Excellence" if they continue to leave Porter on the sidelines while they clearly need all the help they can find on offense.
Sure, Porter can’t play on the offensive line. But he’s the best Raiders receiver short and underneath routes over the middle. A quick slant to Porter could save Andrew Walter some punishment against Cleveland.
-- Jason Jones