Oakland Raiders: 5 Positive Lessons Raiders Can Take from 2012 Season
Cary Emondson-USA TODAY Sports
If you were to call the Oakland Raiders' 2012 season a disappointment, you would be putting it delicately. Some euphemisms for disappointment might be "failure," "catastrophe" or even "disgusting."
The Raiders have had a season to forget in the first year under General Manager Reggie McKenzie. The offense is bad, the defense is worse and the fans are angry.
Through it all, it has not been a complete waste of the season for the silver and black. Despite the lackluster coaching and the overpaid linemen, Oakland has had some bright spots this season.
Let's take a look at five positive outlooks for the Raiders' 2012 campaign.
Marcel Reece Is a Stud
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As bad as their running game has been this year, the Raiders have found a "diamond in the rough" in their backfield, and his name is Marcel Reece.
Reece is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and has been just as relevant in the passing game as he's been in the running game.
Darren McFadden is set to be a free agent in 2014, and if Greg Knapp stays on as offensive coordinator next season, look for Reece to be the new man in town. Even if McFadden does stay in Oakland, he has yet to play a full season without going down with some sort of injury.
The Raiders need to play their cards right and keep Reece for a while. Don't think he hasn't been noticed by every other team in the league.
Carson Palmer Can Still Play
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It's no secret that Carson Palmer has had his struggles with turnovers in the NFL. This year in particular, it's been rather difficult for him to put up solid numbers with a bad offensive line and a non-existent running game.
The fact is that if it weren't for Palmer, the Raiders would not be competitive in most of their games this season. Oakland is eighth in the NFL in passing at 279 yards per game, and that's huge since their running game is one of the worst in the NFL.
Palmer has gotten criticism for some errant throws this season, but he is the reason they've won the three games they've won.
When your team is as one-dimensional as the Raiders, wins are very difficult to come by.
The Raiders Are Sure to Get a Top-5 Pick
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This pretty much solidifies a top-five pick for the struggling silver and black. With a desperate need for a pass-rusher, an offensive lineman and a game-changing linebacker, the possibilities are endless for Oakland as the April draft rolls around.
Of the Raiders' four remaining games, three of them are against divisional rivals and one is against an always-competitive Carolina Panthers team on the road.
As bad as this team has been playing, I don't see how a five-win season is a possibility anymore.
Miles Burris and Philip Wheeler Are the Future
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With all of the problems facing linebacker Rolando McClain this season, Miles Burris and Philip Wheeler have emerged as Oakland's future linebackers.
Wheeler is having the best year of his young career with 87 tackles, two forced fumbles and two sacks in just 12 games. He's been the nucleus to Oakland's line backing corps and has been one of the few bright spots on the Raiders' defense all season long.
Burris comes in as the team's third-leading tackler and has been reliable ever since Week 1. The rookie out of San Diego State also recorded a season-high 13 tackles against the Cincinnati Bengals.
These two young linebackers are the only reason this defense hasn't completely gone under.
Brandon Myers Is a Premier Tight End
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If you look up the word "reliable" in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Brandon Myers' face staring right back at you.
The Raiders' tight end is third in the NFL with 721 yards and is averaging 10.4 yards per completion. Myers' has more yards than Jimmy Graham, Owen Daniels, Jermichael Finley and Heath Miller.
He is the real deal.
Oakland's wide receivers have had a case of the "Drops" for the whole season now, but Myers continues to be able to hold on to the ball.
Though he did have a costly drop against the New Orleans Saints, he has been Carson Palmer's favorite target and has been the unsung hero of Oakland's offense.