When Jon Gruden took control this winter, expectations about relying on veterans remained high. If you recall, his previous incarnation of the Raiders featured players on the other side of their primes. While that netted early success, players aged quickly. As a result, younger talent could not develop with ample amounts of field time. In essence, Gruden went for the short money instead of the long plan. Now, it appears that history repeats itself.
Granted, the idea of Derrick Johnson appeared baffling. Yet, there he was, in camp. Derrick Johnson, as a Kansas City Chief played with speed, explosion, and instinct. However, with the Raiders, Johnson only possesses instinct. His legs look heavy and tired. While his mind remains sharp, the physical appears rapidly declining. People point at his declining snap counts as the team phasing him out. In all honesty, he should never have phased in. Regardless of dwindling totals, Johnson did not need to play in Oakland.
When Marshawn Lynch requires a breather, the Raiders occasionally look toward Doug Martin. Why? At 29, and logging 1150 carries entering the season, Martin does not fit. With Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, younger and more explosive, Martin will vulture a snap here and there. If he could provide pop or burst in a limited sample size, which could work. The burst dissipated. Nevertheless, the Raiders opted for a veteran with bald tires.
Without exception, no current Raiders player engenders such enmity. Nelson sees the field at an alarming rate. Despite Paul Guenther’s vigorous defense, Nelson cannot make plays any longer. If the team does not offer the “he knows the system” excuse, what justification remains? If you look at the Chargers film, watch for #27. Nelson arrives late to every play. His timing vanished. With Erik Harris sitting there, why not give him a shot?
Overall, the Raiders aged poorly in the offseason. However, all veterans are not stereotyped as slow or done. Jordy Nelson continues to make play in the offense. Choosing a veteran wisely remains a chore for the Raiders. On defense, linebackers and defensive backs can fall off in a hurry. For the Raiders, the roster teems with players that saw better days in other uniforms. In return, a 1-4 start is not unexpected.