AFC West: Maimi Dolphins

The Oakland Raiders have hired Tony Sparano as offensive line coach and assistant head coach, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Sparano’s name first surfaced in Oakland on Monday. I applaud Oakland coach Dennis Allen for bringing Sparano on board. In fact, I think it is Allen’s best individual coaching hire since he took the Raiders’ job last year.

Sparano brings good experience to this staff. He was a head coach in Miami and he was the Jets’ offensive coordinator last year. He was recently fired. Sparano made his name in the NFL as an offensive line coach in Dallas. That is his area of expertise.

Under new offensive coordinator Greg Olson, the Raiders will move away from its zone-blocking scheme toward a power-blocking scheme. That attack best suits Oakland’s personnel.

New Kansas City coach Andy Reid interviewed Sparano for his offensive line coach opening but opted not to hire Sparano.

Moving on: Oakland Raiders

September, 17, 2012
Here are some areas the Oakland Raiders need to focus on after a 35-13 road loss at the Miami Dolphins on Sunday:

Recap: The Raiders were completely outplayed by an underwhelming Miami team Sunday to fall to 0-2. It is the first time the Raiders – who haven’t had a winning record since 2002 --- have started 0-2 since 2007. The Raiders looked overmatched on both sides of the ball Sunday.

Biggest area to fix: Darren McFadden. The terrific tailback has just 54 yards on 26 carries in two games. There is a lot of talk in the Bay Area that McFadden is not a good fit for the West Coast offense used by new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp. Knapp was Oakland’s offensive coordinator when McFadden was a rookie. McFadden began to flourish when the Raiders used a power-running scheme and has said he is comfortable in this system. McFadden is too talented to continue to be bottled up. He will break loose at some point.

Biggest area to build on: One of the bigger questions about his team this summer was at tight end. However, veteran Brandon Myers has been a bright spot for the Raiders. He had six catches for 86 yards Sunday and he has 11 catches for 151 yards in two games. The strong blocker has always showed he has nice hands, but if he can come up with five catches a game, it will be a huge bonus.

What to watch for: The Raiders are entering a tough stretch. They host Pittsburgh on Sunday and then go to Denver and then Atlanta after a Week 5 bye. The Raiders have to figure it out soon or they could be in a huge hole.
As expected, the San Diego Chargers will put receiver Vincent Brown on injured reserve.

However, Brown will be able to be taken off the injured reserve, per new NFL rules, when he is healthy. He is expected to miss about half the season after breaking his ankle in the second preseason game. He is eligible to return after eight games. By putting Brown on the injured reserve, the Chargers can add a player to the roster now. The team has been looking for help on the offensive line and at cornerback.

In other AFC West news:

Cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke reportedly has cleared waivers. Oakland cut the 2011 third-round pick Monday after he struggled in the preseason. It is somewhat surprising another team didn’t take a chance on a speedy, young, high pick.

CLARIFICATION: Van Dyke is not eligible for any practice squad because he played in 14 games last season, which is beyond the NFL limit for practice squad eligibility. Thus, he can only be signed to a 53-man roster.

Oakland receivers Denarius Moore (hamstring) and Jacoby Ford (foot) did not practice Tuesday. The team has maintained it believes both players should be ready to play Monday against San Diego. However, because he is just starting to jog, Ford may have less of a chance to play than Moore.

Rookie receiver Juron Criner is reportedly dealing with an ankle issue. If these injuries do not improve through the week, Oakland may have to look for receiver help. That decision likely wouldn’t happen until later in the week.

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie restructured his contract to remain with the Ravens. Had he been cut, I’d think the Chargers would have seriously considered pursuing him. The team is staring undrafted rookie Mike Harris against Oakland next week because starter Jared Gaither is out with a back ailment.

Miami is cutting backup quarterback David Garrard. At this point, I don’t think any of the teams in the AFC West would rush to sign him.

Don’t expect the Chiefs to sign free agent defensive tackle Shaun Smith this week. I think the Chiefs will wait to see what they have at nose tackle before deciding if they want more help. Smith tried out for the Chiefs last week. He previously played for the Chiefs.

Here is a look at the AFC West’s representatives at the NFL’s kickoff festivities this week.

The Chargers signed tackle Kevin Haslam to the practice squad. He was cut by the Raiders on Friday.