Question: Why don't you answer questions anymore?
Answer: I had laptop issues in Indianapolis. So I couldn’t access questions for a while. But I’m back and able to answer questions the best I can.
Question: Do you think that the signing of Tommy Kelly means that the Raiders will not draft Dorsey or Ellis in the first round?
Johnny, Santa Clarita
Answer: That’s what I assume. In the last two seasons, the Raiders have signed two defensive tackles to deals totaling $67.5 million between Kelly and Terdell Sands. That doesn’t include the $4 million in salary owed to Gerard Warren.
For that much money the Raiders should be able to pass on Ellis and Dorsey. My assumption the Raiders would take a defensive tackle was based on Kelly returning as a defensive end.
If Jake Long is available, he should be the pick. If Long is gone, the Raiders would be wise to trade down and land someone like Cal’s DeSean Jackson or Texas’ Limas Sweed to help at receiver. If Chris Long falls to No. 4, he’d be an easy pick.
Question: Hey Jason - did you receive any calls from Kiffin about your blog from the combine?
Dan, San Diego
Answer: Kiffin didn’t call me. I assume that was because I never wrote he was dancing. I was hanging with the writer from Atlanta at Ike and Jonesy’s that night and he might have caught Kiffin with a drink while doing a two-step.
I didn’t see it.
Question: Can you do many of us a favor and ask Davis or anyone else in high standing at the Raiders if they realize how they're making fans feel right now? We don't know if we're losing yet another coach (another restart!), players don't want to sign with the Raiders, and it overall makes our team seem like its being run in chaos. I know we have a dictator but Super Bowls are won by teams, not a single individual.
Thanks for your time and I plan to be a faithful reader of your blog.
Sil, San Jose
Answer: I could, but there’s only one person’s opinion that matters when it comes to the Raiders, and that’s Al Davis.
He has to be persuaded to see things differently.
The Raiders will probably land one of their big free agent targets (S Gibril Wilson is my guess) but will have to overpay to do that. No one is taking less money for a chance to play for a team that changes coaches seemingly every year. The Raiders aren't the Patriots.
I believe Davis knows how fans feel because I know it pains him greatly to see his team sit at the bottom of the standings every year. He’s just going to try to fix it how he sees fit.
Question: Hey Jason, great job covering the combine. In reference to one of your comments posted (last week) what specifically don't players like about Kiffin's offense? it seems to me that at least the offensive linemen and running backs should love it. The O line was allowed to stick to a running attack (finally) this year and didn't have to hold their pass blocks forever in an outdated system like 2006. And as for the running backs, Fargas in all likelihood is a very rich man right now because of this system. Is it a QB and receiver problem? Play calling?
Steve, Totowa, N.J.
Answer: The problem players had were some felt the offense was far too conservative. When Kiffin was hired, he promised an explosive offense. But the passing game was still bad. Kiffin’s penchant for criticizing players (the receivers, specifically) in the media didn’t go over well.
But I get the sense a lot of players still like Kiffin. They jut don’t want to see JaMarcus Russell throwing to tight ends and running backs for an entire game.
Question: You and Jerry McDonald are the only guys I trust for a straight story on my Raiders. Regarding Kiffin, it would be difficult for me to go about business as usual, Ryan, others, while your head coach is in a state of flux to say the least. Does it strike you as odd?
Why is the locker room split? What is wrong with the offense?
Is Kiffin over his head? From my point I thought he brought many positives this year which will outweigh the negatives but over time. Your take?
Answer: Yes, this is an odd situation. But coaches on the staff are calm because they know who is in charge: Davis.
The locker room is splitting again in part because players on defense believe Kiffin blamed the defense for the Raiders’ 4-12 record as the season progressed without ever putting enough blame on the offense.
Kiffin said at the end of the season he thought the Raiders needed to run the ball well and stop the run to win.
The Raiders finished sixth in rushing, 31st against the run. It’s easy to see how defenders could be taken aback.
Kiffin did some good things. But flirtations with college jobs helped bring Davis’ wrath upon Kiffin. Things appear calm at the moment. If Kiffin makes it to the draft, I think he’ll be the coach in 2008.
Assuming Kiffin returns, he'll need to improve communication with the players. That's another area some players grumbled about.