5 Oakland Raiders On The Hot Seat


Dec 23, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden (20) runs the ball against the Carolina Panthers during the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Panthers defeated the Raiders 17-6. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Getting fired from a job has its benefits.  For example, if you worked for the Oakland Raiders, a pink slip would excuse you from a losing atmosphere and a boss without fashion sense.

But the negatives of getting canned normally outweigh the positives, such as forfeiting a comfortable salary.  The stress that arrives while cleaning out your cubicle can often lead to drug abuse or even violent outbursts (see: work related shootings).

Who’s feeling the heat right now in the Raiders organization?  A far smaller number since the last round of layoffs (best wishes to Tommy Kelly and the men), but their fears are legitimate.

Darren McFadden

The dog may be honestly eating his homework, but the truth is since being taken fourth in the 2008 NFL Draft, McFadden has produced one 1,000 yard rushing season.  Numerous lower body injuries and an ill-fitting zone blocking scheme (used by offensive coordinator Greg Knapp in 2008 and 2012) have excused the running back’s lack of production for some time, but in the last year of a $60 million rookie contract, the former Razorback must grind out a Pro Bowl-caliber season in 2013 or risk hitting free agency without a lucrative home team offer.

Dennis Allen

Allen became head coach in 2012 despite serving just one season as a defensive coordinator, so general manager Reggie McKenzie will likely stress patience with his unpopular hire.  If owner Mark Davis channels his dad however, a four-win inaugural campaign will be all the slack the coach is probably given, so taking another step back in 2013 would cost his job.  The roster was purged of Al Davis favorites (Michael Huff, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Desmond Bryant) and vocal personalities (Kelly, Richard Seymour) in the offseason, so Allen has his best chance yet to make a resonating impression on his new squad.  Winning the loyalty of his players, and working with coordinator Jason Tarver to improve a holey defense (which surrendered the fifth most points in the NFL last year) by the end of the schedule are critical points on his to-do list.

Mike Brisiel

Brisiel signed a 5-year, $20 million deal in 2012 after a successful stint with the Texans, where he teamed with Knapp and excelled in his blocking system.  The elements were in place, but the right guard could not replicate his Houston prominence, as the 30-year-old struggled to drive his opponents and committed fouls at inopportune times.  Brisiel had extensive ankle surgery in January, which prompted McKenzie to consider discarding the lineman before renegotiating his contract.  With Knapp gone and a power scheme installed, the veteran will need to quickly re-learn the fundamentals, starting with a few less chop blocks.

David Ausberry

While the 2011 draft weekend was possibly the best event of Ausberry’s life (he was selected in the seventh round), the 2013 occasion was likely his low point.  Oakland chose tight ends Nick Kasa and Mychal Rivera on the last day, displaying their lack of confidence in the second-year converted wide receiver from USC.  Ausberry is fast on his feet and possesses soft hands, but he is an ineffective run and pass blocker, so practicing the least glamorous aspects of his game will be necessary to stick around.  With a cap hit of less than $600,000, the prospect is fairly expendable.

Sebastian Janikowski

Like McFadden, Janikowski has an expiring, expensive deal (he signed for 4 years and $16 million in 2010, an NFL record for a placekicker) and while the All Pro has little to prove, the Raiders hinted with Shane Lechler’s departure that the current management may not overpay specialists (even for the sake of sentimentality).  The veteran, who nailed 31 of his 34 field attempts in 2012, must continue to dominate to earn a similar wage at 35 years of age, and if the longest-tenured Raider shows any regression, Oakland will be ready to wave farewell.