This upcoming season will be one to remember for the Oakland Raiders. With the offseason moves and acquisitions they have done, this team is now built for a no excuse season. The Raiders have always had the talent, but lacked discipline and focus.
For example, they have been at the top of the league at penalties for years.
Under Tom Cable and hopefully under him only, the Raiders will look to succeed.
As said by a fellow Raider fan, it is time for JaMarcus Russell to finally break out of his shell. He does not have the deadbeat Kwame Harris playing left tackle anymore so he won't get sacked from that side as much anymore. Look for Mario Henderson or free-agent Khalif Barnes to fill up that spot.
To help Russell mature and learn the game gradually, the Raiders signed veteran quarterback Jeff Garcia. He will help Russell's confidence grow and can make him into a better quarterback to reach his full potential.
The depth of the running backs is just unbelievable. A young stud in Darren McFadden, a hard working Justin Fargas, and a man who could start for some teams around the league in Michael Bush.
Each of them are unique in there own way and could help make the Raiders running game terrific. Three running backs that each can be quality starters is going to take the load of Russell's arm during short yard gain times.
At fullback, the Raiders just signed Lorenzo Neal. Neal helped take the pressure off pro-bowl running back LaDainian Tomlinson and helped him became the player he is today. Without Neal by his side, LT is going through the downfall of his career.
Eyes of many draft experts rolled when Oakland selected Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh pick in the draft. He is the fastest rookie wide receiver. He ran his 40-yard dash in the best time at the NFL combine with 4.27 seconds.
He fast and Russell can throw harder than anyone in the league today, there is a connection already. Look for them to have huge plays together.
Johnnie Lee Higgins who became notorious for his punt returns was the Raiders number one receiving option when Javon Walker went down with an injury. With Ronald Curry struggling, Higgins came up big time.
He will be one of the top receivers once again this year and will have more opportunities to prove himself with Curry being departed from the team.
Zach Miller has improved every year since he has been in the league and could have been in the pro bowl last season if it weren't for playing in a low scoring offense. This season could be his breakout year as one of the league's best tight ends.
The defense of the Raiders has potential.
In his sophomore season, Thomas Howard led the league in interceptions for a linebacker last season with six. On the other side of the linebacker spot, the mean Kirk Morrison led the team in tackles with 135.
Nnamdi Asomugha is still the best defensive back in the NFL. He shut down notable wide receivers last season such as Andre Johnson. He is easily the most feared defensive back in the league. This puts pressure on the other side of the field.
Hiram Eugene and Chris Johnson played solid. They actually played better when pro bowl DB DeAngelo Hall was released.
Safety Gibril Wilson was also added to the list of released players this offseason which opens the door for Michael Huff who found himself in the doghouse this season.
Mike Mitchell who was drafted in the second round received a large amount of heat. He was not invited to the combine and was projected by many to go in the seventh round or possibly end up undrafted. He vowed to keep a picture of Mel Kiper Jr. in his locker for the rest of his career to motivate him.
Oakland's special teams is crazy with Sebastian Janikowski, Shane Lechler, and Johnnie Lee Higgins leading the way.
Janikowski has the strongest leg in the league and can kick the ball out of the stadium as can Lechler with his amazing punting abilities.
Higgins went on a run returning punts last season. He had three touchdowns, had a 13-yard average, and returned for a total of 570 yards.
In conclusion, the Raiders should surprise many of the experts. This team has been through hell since their Super Bowl loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Numerous coaching changes should end here if Tom Cable is truly the right man for this job.
I expect the Raiders to have a record of 7-9 or better. They have improved and their focus should be on winning football. They will slowly turn it around and we could possibly even see a run for the playoffs.
Enjoy the season Raider fans, we've been through a roller coster these past few seasons. Just believe in the silver and black and they should hopefully be back.