The Oakland Raiders are in a season of flux, one that will see many changes at various positions.
Many have wondered why the complete rebuild wasn’t done last year, the first for head coach Dennis Allen and General Manager Reggie Mckenzie. Considering the Raiders only had five draft picks in the 2012 NFL Draft, and a salary cap situation in dire straights–it is understandable that the Raiders would take a more long term approach, to the rebuild.
With new faces available as signal callers, Oakland’s season will rely heavily on the production of the quarterback. With that in mind, lets take a look at the possibilities at quarterback:
The Raiders traded quarterback Carson Palmer to the Arizona Cardinals, amid a continued roster overhaul by McKenzie. For a quarterback that threw for over 4000 yards, the Raiders only got a conditional 7th round draft pick, in 2014 nonetheless. There is something to be said about McKenzie’s negotiating skills, but we’ll leave that argument for another day.
To mitigate the departure of Palmer, Oakland traded for Matt Flynn(Seattle Seahawks), drafted rookie Tyler Wilson(4th round out of Arkansas), and picked up undrafted free agent Matt Mcgloin(Penn State) to go with holdover Terrelle Pryor.
After the conclusion of organized team activities and mini camp, it’s difficult to disagree with the general consensus that Flynn has a leg-up on the competition. Allen has also come out and proclaimed Flynn the most likely starter, unless the rest of the competition produces a surprise candidate.
I have to say I find it difficult to see anyone else but Matt Flynn under center for the season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.
With training camp slated to start July 25th, there is still time for Pryor or Wilson to wrestle the starting job away from Flynn.With the lack of experience, that could prove to be a pretty tall order. The most glaring deficiency in the Raiders’ quarterback corp is experience.
With two rookies, an unproven third year player, and a career backup, the Raiders’ quarterbacks have a combined three starts in the NFL. The best case scenario at this point for the Raiders is to have a vigorous competition at the position. Competition, as is the case in capitalism, is an important tenet of success in the NFL.
The question that surrounds — and frankly, scares — most Raider fans is not who starts the season at quarterback, but rather who finishes the season at the position.
I would argue that there is a good possibility of Tyler Wilson taking over the reigns at some point over the season. Looking at the Raiders schedule, it isn’t a stretch to say Wilson could potentially start Week 5. In the first four weeks, the Raiders face three playoff teams from last year in Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins, and the Colts. If Flynn struggles in those four games, I can see the Black Hole demanding Tyler Wilson.
With a 4-12 record last year, there will be added pressure on Allen to produce a better record. Raider Nation may get their wish sooner rather than later.
The question is, will Wilson be ready?
Looking at Wilson’s college play will remind Raider fans of Ken Stabler, affectionately known as ‘The Snake.”
Wilson is a player that displays tremendous grit, and amazing will to win, and the ability to stand in the pocket and will the ball downfield. Therein also lies one of his many flaws as well.Wilson tends to drift away from the proper mechanics of throwing the ball. He does make some erratic throws that considering his talent, baffles one’s mind.
We’ll compare this part of his game to Tony Romo for more clarification. On certain throws, Wilson tends to drop his elbow a little, affecting the spiral of the ball, and thus making the throws less accurate. Wilson also has a tendency to throw the ball off-balance, a contributing factor to his erratic throws.
Also, Wilson stands 6’2” and has smaller hands than a prototypical quarterback, raising questions about his ability to hold onto the ball.
Wilson does have tremendous upside as well. He has great footwork in the pocket and displays great pocket presence and awareness. He has the required arm strength to complete every NFL throw necessary, but has to work on his mechanics and throwing motion.
His command of the offense is also a plus. Looking at plays, you notice the tight ends and half backs usually picking up the extra pressure on the edge. This is a result of Wilson’s ability to read the defense, appropriately line his teammates up, and communicate the blocking assignments.
In the aftermath of the 2012 NFL Draft, many scouts and evaluators, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper, claimed Tyler Wilson would be a high first round pick.
The controversy surrounding and the subsequent dismissal of Bobby Petrino, the loss of the offensive coordinator, the departure of his top three targets, problems on the offensive line, and his own injuries resulted in a nightmare season for Wilson at Arkansas. The best gauge of one’s character is their attitude in tough times. Through all that adversity, Tyler handled the situation as a true leader would.
My belief that Tyler Wilson will eventually win the starting job is not necessarily an indictment of Matt Flynn, but a sense of optimism that Wilson has a greater than average chance of being the Raiders’ long term solution at quarterback. Some have compared him to the great Jim Kelly.
For the Raider Nation, that would be a dream come true and the end of a decade-long nightmare.