Here is my list of why the Oakland Raiders will dominate the AFC West next year. I realize we have another tough schedule with some great teams, but this means absolutely nothing to me. We have always been the underdog, and when teams play the Oakland Raiders, they just never know what to expect.
1. Depth at Running Back
Talk about a team stuffed with talented RBs! The Raiders have Justin Fargas, who we have deemed the "Crash Test Dummy" because he runs harder than anyone I have ever seen for the Raiders.
We also have the talented Darren McFadden. What's there not to like about the guy? I personally feel he will become as popular as Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson. I feel with Tom Cable at the helm, McFadden can be used as a RB, WR, and QB. I love that the guy has great hands, and talk about a hitter. Darren McFadden puts the hurt to whoever he goes after when he is not in play, and as a RB he loves to straight arm. He is my fantasy player next year.
We also have the power back Michael Bush. I can't tell you how glad I am about his performance. I truly feel we need to use him at the start of games to pound at the defense, then use either Fargas or McFadden to just blow the defenses of the AFC West apart.
I used to love how Jon Gruden used Garner and Wheatley, and if this new tandem is used in like manner, well then beware. Unfortunately, Mike Shanahan is gone to see the Raiders destroy the Charger lineup.
Justin Griffith will be back next year as well, and he can block and should be healthy. I would like for him to perform like a favorite player of mine from Fresno State...yes, Lorenzo Neal. Whether he can do it is entirely in his hands, yet I know he can do it.
2. Tom Cable
Tom did an outstanding job last year of winning games. I was getting a bit frustrated with Lane Kiffin because we had no pass rushers or even attempted to blitz the QB. Then comes along Cable and the blitz was there. So far it appears that Cable and Al Davis are doing a great job of recruiting assistant coaches.
Tom Cable appears to have the respect and skills required to become a great coach with the Raiders, and the players love him. I am glad Al Davis decided to stay with Cable. The Cableman is in the house!
3. The Secondary
Holy cow Batman! Nnamdi Asomugha is the best in the NFL. Did anyone see him shut down Steve Smith, or for that fact, every WR in the NFL? I really love the new CB Chris Johnson and the acquisition of Gibril Wilson. I say give Nnamdi the money we were going to give DeAngelo, and as for Chris Johnson, we could give him Walker's money. Thomas Howard is the man also.
This is a tough secondary to play against, and I really feel the AFC West is gonna have a hard time passing if we can get Burgess in there to chase down and sack QBs.
4. Johnnie Lee Higgins
Okay, this guy is the new Dante Hall. Johnnie Lee Higgins is a great WR with speed that is almost unmatched. I really love to see this guy run and catch. Johnnie Lee Higgins is a rare talent, and thank God Al Davis found him. Talk about explosive games. The talent is now there in Oakland, and every play can result in turnovers when playing against the Raiders.
5. The Defensive Line
This line is going to need a little bit of work, but I think the draft can help in that aspect. Rarely do I say good things about players acquired from Denver, but Gerard Warren held up well. I also like Terdell Sands, he has the size needed and will have to become more consistent. Sands needs to become a run stuffer, with enough training he should reach pinnacle this year. Let's not forget...yup, Kirk Morrison, Thomas Howard and Derrick Burgess.
You know, as I write this list I keep thinking that the Oakland Raiders are filled with so much talent and we can be the Raiders of 2000.
6. JaMarcus Russell
He had a slow start and had to learn by getting out there on the playing field. I really believe he is ready to become the great commander of the field that Rich Gannon was. I know that JaMarcus has one of the most powerful and accurate arms in the NFL. After training this season coming up he should have great repertoire with the WRs and of course TEs, i.e. Miller, another threat.
On a final note: Yes, I brought up the team of 2000—a team I am proud of even though the loss was horrific. But when people come up to me and say how we lost, I tell them Al Davis put together a team of 40-year-old men that defeated the entire AFC. What more can I say? I am a 40-year-old guy that gets a thrill saying that about the Oakland Raiders. Reminds me of the great George Blanda.
Well, until next time...