Oakland Raiders: 5 Keys to Reach Their Full Potential in 2012
Raiders fans are prepared for Carson Palmer to lead their silver and black to the playoffs. On paper they certainly look like worthy champions of a tough AFC West division—with talent at nearly every offensive position and a defense that has some pieces to put together stops.
But with new head coach Dennis Allen and new faces in the front office, there is no guarantee that everything will run smoothly beginning Week 1.
Here are five keys for the Raiders to reach their full potential in 2012. If they manage to do so, they'll make 10 wins a low-end prediction.
Dennis Allen Instills Discipline
Richard Seymour threw his support behind Allen, saying his new head coach has “it.”
Whatever “it” may be, that is a strong vote of confidence for a young coach and should give Allen the ability to move forward and attempt to change the culture of football in Oakland. You know, where leading the league in penalties is nearly a given.
Discipline has been a huge problem in the Raiders' organization and is an incredible momentum killer.
Although refs are accustomed to calling more penalties against the Raiders than your average NFL team, Allen must reduce the amount of yellow flags being thrown per game if Oakland hopes to compete for a few more wins this season.
Carson Palmer Is a Leader in the Locker Room and on the Field
The Raiders need a leader, plain and simple.
The first place to look to is the quarterback, considering he is (usually) the most cerebral player on the football field. Carson Palmer is capable of leading the team, something vital if they are to succeed.
This goes nearly hand-in-hand with the previous slide because in order to have discipline, the Raiders must look towards a leader on the field.
Players need to be able to not only respect each other, but have someone guide them in the right direction while they are smashing helmets on Sundays.
Look no further than the former Bengals captain.
Injuries cost the Raiders a playoff ticket last season.
Miraculously, the Raiders were a game away from their first playoff berth in a decade.
If they stay healthy, things will fall into place.
Darren McFadden has become known to be an injury-prone running back, but he is still young and can show that he will have a career as successful as the talent he possesses. He will hopefully lead the way to a healthy season for Oakland where they can surprise the AFC West and the rest of the league.
Marcel Reece Has an Expanded Role in the Offense
The skills necessary at the fullback position have been slowly waning across the years and Marcel Reece is the rare exception. He can block, run and catch out of the backfield which adds a weapon most other teams don’t even consider.
Opposing teams will have to respect Reece’s playmaking ability. If they don’t, the Raiders will use him to attack gaps in the defense. If they do, that’s one less player who is covering the other plethora of offensive weapons.
Tyvon Branch Plays Like a $26 Million Safety
Reggie McKenzie’s first major signing as general manager was a great one.
Tyvon Branch, like Marcel Reece, has the potential to become one of the best players at his position. Fellow B/R featured columnist James Dudko ranks Branch as the No. 6 safety in the league and Ryan Bibber of SB Nation agrees (naming the Raiders safeties top 10 in the NFL).
While the Raiders' linebacking core is questionable—Rolando McClain has trouble stopping the pass even though he is excellent against the run—the secondary should be able to hold their own even with the departure of CB Stanford Routt.
Read B/R featured columnist Elijah Abramson's Raiders blog here.