Raiders QB stability will open other doors

Other than the immediate need for a head coach, the Oakland Raiders lack a smart quarterback who will limit turnovers and get the balls in the hands of their playmakers. The NFL Draft and free agency figure to be a tremendous help.

Even in the unlikely event they keep Aaron Brooks and Andrew Walter, the Raiders need a viable quarterback, because Walter may be no more than a No. 3, and Brooks was injured twice last season.

The Raiders scored a franchise-low 168 points, with the offense accounting for only 138 of those. Oakland had four defensive touchdowns and a safety.

With the Raiders unable to score points, foes essentially went into four-minute drills early in the second half once they had a lead of 10 points. Since opponents were working the clock, they gained fewer yards.

They finished 29th in rushing, 32nd in passing and surrendered a franchise-record 72 sacks. They couldn't block, couldn't run and couldn't catch.

Odds are good Oakland's starting quarterback is not on the roster. Aaron Brooks was 0-8 as a starter and has one year remaining on a two-year deal he signed last offseason. The contract contains a $5 million roster bonus. Brooks said he wants to remain a Raider but noted, "There's not two or three changes that need to be made, there's a laundry list of things that need to be done."

Andrew Walter, considered Oakland's quarterback of the future, wilted under the consistent rush and occasionally struggled when he had time.

"People can think what they want to think, I can't control that," Walter said, "but I'm confident I can play in this league."

Oakland finished with 24 interceptions, with Walter throwing 13 of them. The team lost 22 fumbles, with Walter losing nine of them.

If Oakland is looking for a steady presence to avoid turnovers and play to their defense, Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard, an unrestricted free agent, could draw some interest.

After Huard lost his first two games, one as a starter, he went 5-2 over his next seven games with a quarterback rating over 100.0 in five of those contests. With 11 touchdowns to one interception over the season, Huard showed poise and precision. He was also one of just two quarterbacks to beat San Diego this season.

Adding Huard to the mix would allow the Raiders to take the best player in the draft - wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

Sure it is a sexy pick but this kid has Larry Fitgerald type ability. Johnson finished his junior campaign by catching 76 passes for 1,202 yards and 15 touchdowns. He is 6-foot-5 and 235-pounds, runs a 4.4 40-yard dash and has a 45-inch vertical leap.

While receiver may be a strength on the team, Johnson's ability could be too much to pass on. Plus, it would open the door for the exile of Jerry Porter and Randy Moss in favor of team-first players - sending a clear message that this is a new era in Oakland Raiders history.


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