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Three of the four teams in the AFC West have had extremely busy offseasons. We know all about the Chargers, so let's see what the Raiders have been up to.
I couldn't tell you the last time I put together an AFC West update post. Well, actually I could, since SB Nation has an archive of every post ever written on BFTB. But I'm not going to because really, it's trivial and we all know it's been a while. Since it's been so long, instead of doing a large post covering all three teams in the division, I'm going to be giving each team their own post and discuss what they've been up to since their respective offseasons began.
First up: the Oakland Raiders.
End of Season
There was a period of time where the Raiders, much like the Chargers, were in the hunt for the division. But that opportunity quickly evaporated and they fizzled out rather quickly; again, much like the Chargers. The Raiders' season was bookended by the Chargers, and their season ended much like it began: with a loss at the hand of San Diego. #FeelsGoodMan
Oakland finished the season at a paltry 4-12, good enough for the 3rd-overall selection in the draft. Typically after a dismal season like that, you'd expect at least the Head Coach and maybe the General Manager to be fired. Not this year in Oakland. But with Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen having been on the job for just one season, it was hard to really put the blame squarely on them.
That's not to say things stayed pat: the team did let Offensive Coordinator Greg Knapp go, along with three other coaches. Following Knapp out the door were Special Teams coordinator Steve Hoffman, linebackers coach Johnny Holland, and offensive line coach Frank Pollack. All three of those units had major problems last season.
It wasn't all bad news for the Raiders coaching staff, though: what remained of the staff was selected to coach the North Division at the Senior Bowl. This gave the Raiders a slight advantage in this year's draft as they got to see and coach many potential draft targets. Hopefully they can carry on Al Davis' legacy and screw up in the draft.
The Raiders filled their Offensive Coordinator vacancy with former Jaguars Quarterbacks Coach Greg Olson. Yeah, I'm scratching my head too. The Quarterbacks Coach for a team that fielded one of the worst Quartbacks in the league in Blaine Gabbert? On the surface, it seems like a rather odd hire. However, Olson has had some success. He was the OC of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when Josh Freeman had his best years, and was the OC of the St. Louis Rams during Steven Jackson's best years. So maybe the hope is that Olson will be able to get some good production out of Carson Palmer (if he remains with the team) and Darren McFadden (if he remains with the team).
In the time since Olson was hired, he's had time to visit with the media and what he's had to say has excited the Raiders fanbase again. Apparently what he brings to the team is the change it desparately needed. Whether that optimism translates to actual success remains to be seen, as Raiders fans are an unusually confident and optimistic group.
The team would quickly follow up the hiring of Olson with replacing the Special Teams coach vacancy with former Eagles ST Coach, Bobby April. They then hired Tony Sparano as the team's Offensive Line coach, also appointing him assistant Head Coach. As much as the Greg Olson hire was derided initially, the Sparano hiring has been lauded. Rounding out the new coaching staff is former Buffalo Bills Defensive Coordinator, Bob Sanders (no, not that Bob Sanders).
What Raiders offseason wouldn't be complete without players getting arrested? First up we have Rolando McClain, who as we all know is no stranger to the law. It seems every time he heads down to his hometown of Decatur, Alabama, he gets arrested. This time around, he was arrested for giving a false name. When pulled over for a window tint violation, McClain reportedly signed his ticket with the name "Fuck Y'all." When asked by the cop to sign using his real name, McClain answered, "that is my real name."
After being released on $1,000 bail, McClain made it known that he was innocent. "I'm falsely accused of everything," McClain said before climbing into a white Chevrolet Silverado and driving from the parking lot of City Hall. "It's corrupt. It's terrible." Asked if he believes police are out to get him, McClain said, "Yes. You said it. I answered it." It was already all but certain that McClain had played his last games in a Raiders uniform, but with his propensity for legal issues, it's doubtful any other team would be willing to trade for the Middle Linebacker, save the Bengals.
And just last night, it was star DT Desmond Bryant who was arrested. There was confusion at first as reports started coming out that it was "Dez Bryant" that was arrested, but it turned out to be the Raiders DT, not the star Cowboys WR. Desmond Bryant was arrested for "criminal mischief" and that's about all is known. He was booked and released on $1,000 bail. This news come out at a bad time for Bryant as he's set to become an unrestricted free agent, so this may drop some of his potential value to any club.
So we see a Raiders team that wasn't very good in 2012. They've made major changes in the offseason, hoping to fix the biggest issues. There is some optimism coming out of Oakland, but the team is still rebuilding. They're working to get rid of the baggage from the previous administration while not blowing up the entire team. It remains to be seen if they're successful at all. As a Chargers fan, I hope they aren't.