Collins, Raiders may be good fit

If you didn't know better, you'd swear the Raiders turned their offseason into a new reality show: "Extreme Makeover: NFL Edition."

They fired coach Bill Callahan -- consider that addition by subtraction -- and hired Norv Turner.

They signed free agents as if they truly were cheaper by the dozen.

Defensive tackles Ted Washington and Warren Sapp topped a free-agent shopping haul that included linebackers Dwayne Rudd and Danny Clark, defensive backs Ray Buchanan, Denard Walker and Ike Charlton, guard Ron Stone and running back Amos Zereoue.

They bolstered their offensive line in the draft, taking tackle Robert Gallery -- is it too early to call him All-World? -- and center Jake Grove.

So let's give credit where credit's due. The Raiders didn't whine about salary cap woes like that other Bay Area NFL team. They identified some big problems after a 4-12 season, wrote some big and not-so-big checks and tried to fix them.

It's enough to make those who bleed silver and black -- you know who you are -- make Super Bowl reservations.

So maybe it's time to take a deep breath and have a reality check. Sorry to kill the buzz, but somebody should before expectations get out of control.

For all their apparent upgrades, the Raiders still have some huge question marks, particularly on offense.

They've all but ignored the wide receiver position. And no, drafting wide receivers Carlos Francis in the fourth round and Johnnie Morant in the fifth did not fix that problem. There are reasons why they lasted so long in the draft.

So get ready for another season of Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Jerry Porter. Rice turns 42 in October. Brown turns 38 in July. Porter is recovering from a severe groin injury.

The Raiders had better hope Porter doesn't get injured again. He's the team's only legitimate, experienced deep threat.

Rice, Brown and quarterback Rich Gannon thrived two years ago, running a dink-and-dunk attack that produced a league-high 4,689 passing yards and fueled a Super Bowl season.

Last year, Callahan and former offensive coordinator Marc Trestman tweaked the Raiders offense. They had Rice and Brown extend many of their pass routes.

It was a disaster. Rice and Brown struggled to get open. Gannon, often with no one to throw to, got annihilated. His season ended after seven games when yet another brutal hit damaged his throwing shoulder.

Here's the concern: Turner's offense is based on power running and play-action passing, not dinking and dunking. He likes to throw deep.

Who, other than Porter, is going to get open deep? If a receiver does get open deep, can Gannon consistently connect?

This could be an example of trying to fit three square football pegs into three round holes.

Gannon apparently has recovered from shoulder surgery.

That's not to say all is perfect in Gannon's world.

The Raiders had free-agent quarterback Kerry Collins in this week for a physical and a chat with coaches and personnel people.

The Raiders didn't sneak Collins in, their typical style. They let the outside world know he was at team headquarters.

Maybe Al Davis was sending Gannon a message that he should soften his stance against taking a penny less than the $7 million he's due this season.

Turner has said he's interested in Collins as a backup. You can imagine how Gannon, not exactly Mr. Happy, would react to having Collins lurking over his shoulder.

More likely, the Raiders are considering whether to dump Gannon after June 1, freeing $7 million in salary cap room, and sign Collins.

You can make a strong case that Collins is a better fit than Gannon for Turner's offense. He's bigger than Gannon. He has a much stronger throwing arm. He's a classic drop-back passer in the Troy Aikman mold, the ex-Dallas Cowboy Turner tutored.

What's more, Collins is 31, seven years younger than Gannon.

The Raiders' makeover could get even more extreme.