5 Reasons the Oakland Raiders Should Be a Pass-First Team in 2012
In a quarterback-friendly league, the Raiders need to take advantage of the incredible variety of weapons that they possess on the offensive side of the ball.
Here are five reasons why the team from the City Across the Bay should look to pass first in 2012.
Carson Palmer Will Return to His All-Pro Form
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Last year, Carson Palmer had a lot on his shoulders—both mentally and physically.
After an ugly exit from Cincinnati, the former USC quarterback nearly opted for retirement. Oakland jumped at the opportunity and grabbed a quarterback who had fallen on the short end of some horrendous injuries.
Although his first couple games in the silver and black were far from perfect, Carson Palmer steadily improved over the course of the season.
A full offseason under his belt will give Palmer the opportunity to understand the intricacies of the Raiders' playbook (which will likely be remodeled under new head coach Dennis Allen) and get re-acclimated with the football environment.
He is an ultra-competitive player who will take advantage of the host of receiving weapons in his hands.
Why take the ball out of his hands?
Darren McFadden Doesn't Need Excessive Carries to Be Effective
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One possible answer to the concluding question of the previous slide: Because they have an elite running back in Darren McFadden.
It certainly isn't a bad thing that the Raiders have the ability to succeed in both the passing and running game. All that has to happen is the ball needs to be shared. McFadden averaged almost five yards a carry in 2011; he doesn't need 25-30 carries a game.
And with him coming off an injury-shortened campaign in 2011, the Raiders would be wise to at least start their running back off slowly. McFadden has shown he can do great things, but don't rush him (no pun intended).
The mere presence of McFadden in the backfield forces opposing defenses to respect the run and not settle back into coverage on play-action passes, which will of course open up the field for the passing game.
McFadden is a great weapon and perhaps an even greater decoy.
A Capable Receiving Unit
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You may have recently read my opinion of Denarius Moore, but he is only one weapon.
Although Jacoby Ford may only get limited opportunities due to his incredible ability to perform in the return game, he is a threat simply because of his speed. If he can refine his catching and route-running, he may even make his way into the No. 2 receiver role.
Darrius Heyward-Bey is another monster. His speed, athleticism and overall awareness as a receiver has been constantly improving and he may very well be the No. 1 option for Palmer come Week 1.
His size and strength nicely complement what is going to be one of the quickest groups of receivers in the NFL. Criner may end up being the Raiders' primary red-zone target.
Even More Receiving Options at HB, FB and TE
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Darren McFadden has shown that he isn't just a top runner, but also a solid receiver out of the backfield.
His injury in 2011 didn't allow him to showcase his value out of the backfield and in the slot, but if he can stay on the field he is a weapon.
I am a full believer in the ability of Marcel Reece. He can block, run and catch.
And the guy plays fullback.
When Reece touches the ball, he is as much of a threat as anybody else on the offense. He has made electrifying plays, and look out for him to make an important contribution to the Raiders' offense in 2012.
We're not done there.
Young David Ausberry is a former wide receiver. He will get his opportunities and has the capability to make a big splash as an NFL tight end.
The Raiders have big-play potential in literally every play-making position.
An Offensive Line That Can Hold Its Own
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Stefen Wisniewski and Co. aren't as bad—or even close to as bad—as some of the Raiders' offensive lines in recent memory.
Carson Palmer doesn't need much time to find a target, and the receiving options can use their quickness to find holes in opposing defenses.
So while the Raiders have a great running back, their primary offensive plays should come from the passing game, simply because of the wide variety and depth at multiple positions.
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