Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Startin' Up A Rumor

[Warning: NFL post.]

I have to say that, despite the Raiders' increasingly ugly season, I don't think the problem is quarterback Aaron Brooks. At least, he's not a major problem. And he deserves props for finally speaking out about the horrible management situation, and the way his team -- at least on the offensive side -- has completely quit on him.

Standing in the locker room on the team's day off, Brooks vented about problem receivers Randy Moss and Jerry Porter, a problematic offensive line, short-lived pocket schemes and his benching late in Sunday's 20-0 loss to the St. Louis Rams.

Whether the Raiders will bring Brooks back for a second season, he doesn't know. Until Shell's news conference Monday afternoon, Brooks didn't even know who would start Saturday night's home finale against the Kansas City Chiefs.

"Two games left, who knows what they're thinking," Brooks said one hour before Shell addressed the media. "You see other issues across the board offensively that make you think, 'What the f -- have I got into? It's been tough. A lot of the time, I've been biting that fist of mine."


"When I got here, it was uproar from the jump," Brooks said. "There was controversy with Porter like, 'Mother f -- this coach and that coach.' What's going on? I'm just trying to feel everybody out, and that stuff happens.


Brooks also discussed poor pass protection that has surrendered 66 sacks. He has mobility to escape the pocket, but said that's difficult to do with the three-step drops added by new offensive coordinator John Shoop.

"With the inconsistency of the line, you never know what type of day it's going to be," Brooks said. "You hope and pray to God it's going to be a nice, clean day, but you know it doesn't happen like that so I have to be prepared to use all of my athletic ability."

As impolitic as it may be of Brooks to call out his own o-line, he's absolutely right, and about goddamned time someone said so. This is one of the most miserable groups of linemen I've ever seen at any level, in 30 years of watching football. Stupid penalties, false starts and bobbled snaps up the wazoo, piss-poor blocking -- it's fucking pathetic. They have clearly given up, on themselves, their teammates, the fans who pay a lot of hard-earned money to watch the retard ballet on the field. It's not that they're losing, it's that they're not even pretending to try. Even the defense is giving up, handing out career days to mediocre running backs. It's hard to blame them when their counterparts on the offense, apart from a few bright spots such as Ron Curry, are so incredibly inept and disjointed at even the simplest of things.

So here's the setup for the rumor I'm gonna start -- Moss is definitely gone, and if they can't get fair market value for Porter, Al Davis will pull a Marcus Allen on him and bench him out of sheer spite. That much is commonly assumed. They will have to take serious measures to repair the o-line. And Brooks wouldn't be talking like he is if he didn't want out, and the team can't justify dropping $5 mil on him next year when he doesn't have the numbers to show for it. So he'll probably be dealt, and backup Andrew Walter is not the answer until the line problems are addressed.

Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Falcons QB Mike Vick and coach Jim Mora will both probably be out at the end of the season. Vick is tired of the fans there, the team has chronic problems at receiver, and they have one of the league's best backups in Matt Schaub. They could afford to lose Vick, if an opportunity to bolster their receiver corps comes up.

Which is where Moss comes in. Between his attitude and his injuries, his market value is much less than what it was when he first arrived at Oakland. He needs a fresh start, and where better than a team that is also about to embark on a new start, with a pass-oriented offensive scheme that could use a veteran WR to mentor the others? So what about a trade straight across, Moss for Vick?

I'm not saying such a move would automatically work for either team, especially the Raiders, given their intractable organizational problems. They are simply never going to get any better until Al Davis lets people do their jobs, and pays his coaches what they're worth. Seriously, the team should be a textbook case in management theory, it's almost comically bad. But maybe swapping underperforming malcontents would give the teams a much-needed shot in the arm. Use that #1 or #2 draft pick on USC WR Dwayne Jarrett, get some decent linemen in the draft and free agency, and they couldn't possibly do any worse than they have been.

As for Brooks? He really seems like one of the good guys, and he's been unjustly maligned in all this. It's not his fault that the playbook is outdated and static, and the line execution has only been consistent in its sheer awfulness. He got a bum deal.

But anywhere he ends up, it'll be better than where he's at right now. Except maybe Detroit.

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