Q+A with Adam Caplan
"Mr. Caplan, as a sports writer and without bias to any team, what do you think of all the Al Davis bashing ? Is it well deserved or not ?"
The problem with Davis is he runs his team like it's the 1970's, not the new millennium. He's stuck with old football business practices which just don't work. He needs to relinquish his personnel decisions to someone who is younger and more plugged in. It's amazing how badly this team has fallen since their last Super Bowl appearance.
"Hi, Adam.Who in your opinion is gonna have a breakout year for the Raiders?
IMO I think Tommy Kelly and Darren McFadden. Thanks."
Actually, I think two players. Zach Miller and Trevor Scott. Miller, because of all uncertainty at the receiver position, should become even more involved than last season. Scott, as I saw up close in training camp last season, had a great first step and is a talented edge rusher. He does need to get much stronger physically and once he does, he should provide a big impact to their pass rush.
"Can you give a no holds barred assessment of where this team is headed and how we're getting there? Brutally honest if you dare"
The success of the offense almost entirely rides on the shoulders of JaMarcus Russell. At times last season, you could see why the Raiders selected him as high as they did in the draft two years ago. But more often than not, he struggled to find consistency. He has to play at a much higher level if the Raiders are to have a respectable offense. We know that they should be able to run the ball efficiently most weeks, but can they find a passing game? Defensively, they have to find a more consistent pass rush and the safety play has to get better.
"Adam, do you think the Raiders were wise to not draft a left tackle, believing that either Mario Henderson or Khalif Barnes will provide enough protection for Russell?"
Barnes has upside and athleticism, but he's been a wildly inconsistent player in recent years with the Jaguars. He's on a one-year deal, so he has a lot to prove. The coaches are high on Henderson, but whether he's capable of being a 16-game starter remains to be seen. I think Gallery and Carlisle are decent on the interior, but the rest of their offensive line needs to be rebuilt.
"Adam, What do you make of the rumors that the Chicago Bears were set to draft Michael Mitchell a few picks after the Raiders made the selection in the second round? Would they have taken the same media backlash that the Raiders took for selecting him? Your colleague Adam Schein among others repeatedly dismisses the notion that he was on anyone's radar prior to round 4.
I expected Mitchell to go off the board in rounds 5-6 based on his excellent pro day showing, not in the second round. But, if the story was true that the Bears were going to take him much earlier than that, I can see why the Raiders did that. But did they really know what the Bears were going to do? It's hard to believe that they would know Mitchell was that well-liked by another team.
Also is there any chance of Derrick Burgess or Michael Huff not being on the opening day roster?"
It's hard to see them cutting Burgess considering their pass rush is less than average as it is. He's on the final year of his contract with a cap number of $4.5 million. That's respectable for a player of his talent. Huff, on the other hand, has been a major disappointment. He's signed through 2011, but Mitchell shows he's ready to start at the end of August, Huff could be gone. Huff is another player selected by the Raiders based on athleticism more than talent.
"My question is from a first glance at the Mini camp. How much time is Heyward- Bey going to need to become a legit starter."
He needs to get stronger physically, but his tape shows that he's a better route runner than is given credit for. I have to think that if he shows he's ready to play after the pads go on during training camp, that he'll start. But watch out for Louis Murphy who has excellent hands and better than expected speed for his size. The scouts I know were high on him.
"Hello Adam...I want to know what you think about the Javon Walker situation,and do you think he has more left in the tank( how fast is he?)."
I happened to be at training camp the day after he was talked into not retiring. He's had so many problems with his knees that he's a shell of the player he once was. He turns 31 in October and is clearly on the downside of his career. The problem with cutting him is there's about $9 million or so in bonus proration that they would be hit with, so the chances will increase that they will find a way to keep him around.
"Id like to see Tyvon Branch and Mike Mitchell on the field as starters, any chance we see one of them sliding into the FS position just from the talent they have?"
I think Mitchell, because of his size, is more of a box player of a SS. Branch probably makes more sense to play at FS.
"Adam, Do you see us keeping Javon Walker one the roster by week one? If not, which veteran receiver out there do you see the Raiders targeting?"
See above response for Walker. They could still use a possession receiver with good hands like Amani Toomer or Marty Booker.
"Adam, I listen to Sirus at least an hour a day love your show. With Russell,McFadden & Heyward-Bey on board and Cable in his 1st full season, do the Raiders have what it takes to make the quantum jump like the Dolphins,Falcons & Cardinals? Thanks Mr. Caplan."
The problem on offense isn't the running game, it's the passing game. As talented as Russell is, he hasn't shown enough progress over his two years of play that he's even close to being a decent quarterback. Defensively, they have too many issues with their pass rush and safety play to become a good team. And we didn't get to their issues with consistent tackling.
"Hey Mr. Caplan. I was wondering, do you see us picking up a DT in Free Agency? If not, could the new Defensive Coordinator install a scheme that will be effective? Thank you."
They certainly could use another veteran who could give them 15 snaps or so. I'd expect them to sign one by the start of training camp. John Thornton makes sense as does Darwin Walker, Kidnal Moorehead. I'm told they have about $9 million of cap space, but half of that or so will go to the rookies.
"Do you have any info on DHB's hamstring? Any estimate on when he will be able to practice?"
I think it was more of a strain which is a day-to-day injury. Nothing to be alarmed about, but hamstrings for receivers are common, but can linger if he has a setback.
"Looking at the stats and measurables of our new draftees, it seems that on the defensive side of the ball we drafted quicker smaller players that can tackle. Despite their size, do you think that some of these players will perform like I am hoping (stronger tackling than we've seen in recent years)?"
In John Marshall's defensive scheme, he does like smaller, but faster players, so it's not a surprise they went the way they did in this year's draft. Like in Seattle, I think the strength of this defense will be at linebacker, not so much up front.
"Adam, love hearing you on Sirius! I'm a Raider fan in NJ, spitting distance from NY and Yankee stadium. I watched as Steinbrenner ran the team into the ground and made it a laughing stock years back.
Do you see any parallel between those years and what's happening to our current Raiders?"
I think there is a parallel between those two teams in the way they have made mistakes on player evaluations. It's a shame because in the 80's and 90's and for the early part of the next century, Davis seemed to hit on more players than misses. Now, he seems to be out of touch on players for the most part. When Steinbrenner pulled back some is when the Yankees started to take off again under Joe Torre.
"Mr. Caplan, do you think Michael Bush is getting a raw deal with the Raiders, or do you think they've been playing it safe, and he will bust out any time now ?"
I knew at training camp last season that he wasn't ready for a significant role. He was dragging his leg a little bit and lacked explosion on his runs. However, see saw in that Tampa Bay game that he looked to be all the way back, so they should give him a chance at a consistent role this season. He should at least see time in short-yardage now that he looks to be physically back to where he was before his injury.
And finally, the answer to the question on everyone's mind..
"Adam, are you related to Gabe?"
We spell our last names differently, but I'd like to play poker as good as he does.
Thanks for the questions.
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