Raider Nation awaits anxiously, as the new generation of the Oakland Raiders, led by new owner Mark Davis (son of Al Davis) and new general manager, Reggie McKenzie look to end the 10-year playoff drought of this once proud organization.
But all to familiar, this season begins like the several before, with a new head coach in charge, Bruce Allen (youngest coach in the league, 39). The optimism is free-flowing, as a plan of implementing a new way of life develops into the mindset of the Raiders, possibly believing this is the year where the “Commitment to Excellence” is restored.
With quarterback Carson Palmer, at the helm for a complete season, the question still remains, whether or not he will be able to achieve the same type of success he did in his early Cincinnati days? He has to lead by example, if he expects his teammates to follow. He has the weapons in wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, and Denarius Moore, and as the cohesion between them continue to grow, the Raiders could reach new heights with their vertical passing attack. Palmer and Co. will be exciting to watch, but the Raiders offense begins and ends with their explosive running back, Darren McFadden. Presumed healthy once again, the multi-purpose back, along with Palmer, could finally give the Raiders a balanced, and efficient offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Raiders are very top heavy, but lack the depth they’ve had in recent years, if players become injured. Led by Allen (a former defensive coordinator), the Raiders look to create a physical, hard-hitting, and intimidating style of play on this side of the ball . With pro bowler, defensive lineman, Richard Seymour anchoring the D-line, linebacker Rolando McClain holding down the middle at the next level, the front seven should be solid. The lost of outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley will hurt, but hopefully the re-emergence of Aaron Curry, and new addition of linebacker Phillip Wheeler, will enhance the ability of this Raiders defense at that position. The secondary has been completely revamped at the cornerback position, and will lean on veteran safeties, Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch to help expedite things in the defensive backfield.
The Raiders start the season against their AFC West rival, the San Diego Chargers. Returning to the scene of the crime, it was the same Chargers who kept the Raiders from making the playoffs last year, by beating them 38-26 in the last game of the season. Obviously, Oakland has payback on their mind, not to mention starting the season off on the right foot. They must contain Chargers’ quarterback, Phillip Rivers, and play solid defense against the run, two things the Raiders defense had trouble doing on a consistent basis last year. If they follow their game plan, they should be in good shape come the fourth quarter, which is always easier said than done.
All the “sports experts” pick the Raiders to finish last in the AFC West, which perplexes me, because this is a wide open division. Maybe Oakland, needs this chip on their shoulder to get over the hump, and finally end this playoff drought. Allen must establish a motivating, and confident culture within this locker room, if he feels he will be the coach to guide them back to the playoffs. Old habits die hard, but this new generation of “Silver and Black” and Raider Nation believe change is on the way, and for their sake, I hope their right.
About the Author
Written by Arthur Kai