Just a day after officially announcing the hiring of offensive coordinator, Greg Knapp, it looks as if the rest of the dominoes are starting to fall and the 2012 Oakland Raiders' coaching staff is coming into focus.
The Raiders have retained assistant offensive line coach Steve Wisniewski to work alongside freshly hired offensive line coach Frank Pollack. The team has also hired former Kansas City Chiefs special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman to fill the same position.
Pollack replaces offensive line coach Bob Wylie, who spent just one year as a coach for the Raiders. A highly respected coach around the league who holds annual seminars on line play, Wylie helped the Raiders' offensive line improve dramatically while having many of the same faces along the line. Oakland gave up the third fewest sacks in the league with 25.
Pollack previously spent the past five seasons with the Houston Texans, which after the hiring of Knapp, who was the team's quarterbacks coach, makes all the more sense. Houston has finished in the top five in total offense each of the past three seasons, and much of that is due to the improved play of its offensive line. In his first season as a line coach, Pollack was able to cut the Texans' sacks allowed in half.
All that being said, if Raider Nation was displeased with the hiring of Knapp, this hiring certainly has the potential to ruffle a few feathers as well. Though Wisniewski remaining on the staff should assuage some of that frustration, Pollack's hiring should mean one thing: as if Knapp jumping on board didn't make it obvious enough, the Raiders will most likely shift to a zone blocking scheme. Pollack has run the system exclusively in Houston.
Reserves like Joseph Barksdale, Bruce Campbell, and Stephon Heyer could be rendered useless with the switch. Though Heyer is an unrestricted free agent, the Raiders spent a third and a fourth round draft pick on Barksdale and Campbell, respectively. Both were drafted with the thought that the Raiders would drift to a power-based scheme to suit running back Darren McFadden's skills a bit better.
The good news is starters such as Jared Veldheer, Stefen Wisniewski, and especially Cooper Carlisle should be unaffected by the move. Expect two new faces along the offensive line.
Again, coach Wisniewski staying on could make a world of a difference as far as continuity goes. But the potential change in scheme is something fans should be mindful of.
Also, this should ruffle a few more feathers: former Raiders' offensive coordinator Al Saunders is interviewing with the Chiefs to rejoin their staff.
On a more positive note, after being denied by the Dallas Cowboys for an opportunity to interview special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, the Raiders have hired a familiar face in Steve Hoffman.
Hoffman has spent the past three seasons working with the Chiefs in the same capacity. He is known for being the special teams coach of the Cowboys between 1988 and 2004, helping the team win three Super Bowls.
Finding a defensive coordinator has been another story. All the hot names that have been thrown around have fallen through.
The Broncos denied Oakland from talking to linebackers coach Richard Smith, who had worked with head coach Dennis Allen this past year in Denver. The New Orleans Saints also blocked the Raiders from talking to defensive line coach Bill Johnson, who also has ties to Allen. Finally, former Chargers' defensive coordinator Greg Manusky decided to head to Indianapolis to become their coordinator.
The next name that is being thrown around is Green Bay Packers' cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. Despite only being 33 years old, Whitt has accomplished a good deal, helping develop players such as Tramon Williams and Sam Shields. And you'd have to imagine GM Reggie McKenzie knows what he'd be getting in Whitt from working with him in Green Bay.
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