For anyone who watched Sunday's loss to SD, you know how much of a roller coaster ride this season was for the men in silver and black.
As disappointed I am with a 8-8 finish, you have to realize that this record is actually pretty good considering the circumstances.
In this article, we're going to examine some injuries and how they affected the outcome of the season.
Chris Johnson was basically a ghost this season, playing in only four games. Johnson started three games early on and played decent (considering) but not well enough to help the defense.
Johnson was severely missed this year because, other than Routt at corner, the Raiders were very raw and inexperienced. Johnson brought a veteran presence to the secondary and defense along with his speed and knowledge.
A healthy Chris Johnson would've taken some pressure off Routt and allowed guys like Van Dyke and Checkwa to learn the defensive system and hit the ground running. He also would've brought solid coverage across the board for a secondary that desperately needed it.
Just because Michael Huff played in 12 games, doesn't mean he wasn't on the injury report for the other four.
All season Huff was battling various injuries, which disallowed him to get rhythm and stability needed to be a top performer all year.
Overall, he accumulated 38 tackles, four passes defensed and two picks, most notably over Houston after Al Davis's death.
Michael Huff plays a huge role for this defense and for this unit to be consistent he needed to be injury free. Giordano, Boyd or whoever else is put in as his replacement just can't play like Michael Huff.
With a full offseason to relax and recover, look for Huff to come back stronger than ever for a defense that needs it.
Maybe he can even move to corner?
Moore was one of, if not, the most explosive player in the NFL this year. His return ability, speed and ability make him one of the most dangerous receivers week-to-week.
The problem, however, is injuries. Moore played in the majority of the games, but when he was out he did nothing. When he was hurt, he did little. A healthy Moore would've brought yet another added dimension to his offense.
Ford came into this year one of the Raiders focuses on offense but a vast majority of injuries only allowed him to start three games and play in eight.
Without Ford, they lose a returner, speed and a big play presence. He lined up in many spots this year and plays a huge role.
Murphy has been as consistent of a WR the Raiders have had these past two years...when he is healthy.
Murphy started a dismal one game this year, and though he played in 11, he was largely ineffective for most of them.
These three guys alone bring a sprint-style vibe to the offense and any one of them can run by any corner. Raiders are in desperate need of these guys being healthy if their offense wants to flourish.
I think it needs to go without saying, but, McFadden needs to stay healthy.
He started and played in seven games (technically) but basically sat out the entire KC game.
McFadden brings speed, power, agility and versatility to an offense that can use it. His blazing speed, strength and power and raw talent allows this guy to be one of the best in the NFL.
Injuries have plagued McFadden for years now and even though Bush is a viable option, he is not Darren McFadden.
As you can see, just a handful of guys can effect the outcome of a play, a series, a game or even a season.
Defensively, their secondary (which is already a concern) needs to be strong and healthy. That will bring rhythm and a camaraderie to the unit, allowing them to take over a game.
Offensively, just imagine having DHB, Moore, Ford, Murphy and DMAC on the field at once. That would be one of the most scary skilled-position lineups in the NFL.
If the Raiders want to take the next step, they'll have to find a way to stay injury free. That would allow them to open up many doors they haven't seen opened in awhile.
Stay true Raider Nation, the time is coming.