Another Average Season For The Oakland Raiders This Year
Try not to think of the Oakland Raiders as a perennial train wreck, even though they are the only team in NFL history to post eleven losses in seven straight seasons. Think of the Raiders as a work in progress. Emphasis on work. It is amazing that they continue to have such a strong fan following (have you SEEN the members of the Raider nation???), given the disastrous recent history this team has had. The drama continued over the off-season for the Raiders, and things do not bode well for them in the upcoming season either.
For crying out loud, can we get a quarterback, please?: The happiest man in the United States right now is Ryan Leaf. Widely regarded as the biggest “bust” ever in the NFL, he can now step aside. JaMarcus Russell made in excess of 30 million dollars, and won seven games. Seven. So, the Raiders decided to let him go, in favor of Jason Campbell, who was traded to them from the Redskins. Ask any Redskins fan, and they will tell you that Jason Campbell is the second biggest bust of all time in the NFL. Granted, he played behind a porous offensive line at Washington, but he has not demonstrated the ability to get rid of the ball quickly and to make good decisions. Back-up QBs Kyle Boller and Bruce Gradkowski better stay at the ready.
Tradition, tradition, tradition: If a team ever looks “old school”, it is the Raiders. The philosophy is to have a strong running game and a strong defense. The running game looks pretty good on paper. The Raiders have picked up journeyman running back Michael Bennett from San Diego, and Rock Cartwright, a veteran from the Redskins. These additions may take some pressure off of Darren McFadden, a strong, quick back who can run well in the open field, and can catch coming out of the backfield.
Gimme a “D”!: The Raiders selected one of the best defensive players available in the draft – Rolando McClain of Alabama. The Butkus Award winner is big, strong, fast, and smart. Upon being drafted, he immediately asked for film to review, and during mini-camp, he was working as the middle linebacker with the first team. It is the first time he will be playing in a 4-3 defense, but he is smart enough to transition seamlessly into that system.
Who is THAT guy?: For the most part, the Raiders do not have a lot of big name talent. The typical NFL fan hasn’t heard of 95% of the players on the Raiders. Nor have they heard of any of the coaches (except when head coach Tom Cable allegedly hit some assistant coach, and it was all over the news). Granted, you don’t have to have headliners at every position. However, this is an indication that the Raiders have built their team without marquee talent, and that just doesn’t get it in the NFL.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, in spite of a couple of strong additions, there is not much of a chance that they will improve significantly. Lucky for them, they play in the AFC West, which is arguably the weakest in football. They may win 6 games, but the smart money is on another 5-11 season.