What's New for Oakland Raiders in 2013-14?
When Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen took over the rebuilding project that was the Oakland Raiders franchise, mass turnover was a given.
In fact, the changes that had to be made have resulted in almost as much change heading into the second year of the regime as there was in the first.
The hope for the Raiders is that this overhaul will start to pay dividends on the field, and sooner rather than later.
Here is a look at what’s new for the Oakland Raiders heading into the 2013-14 season.
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Among all the changes made for the Raiders heading into this season, the new system that offensive coordinator c brings has gotten the most attention. Given the disaster that Greg Knapp’s offense was last year, that was to be expected.
Under Olson, the Raiders offense will move back to a running game that features a gap-blocking scheme up front. This way, star running back Darren McFadden should be back in his comfort zone as a downhill runner.
This comes with the emphasis that the coaching staff has put on tailoring its offensive scheme to the skill sets of the players on the roster.
For example, Denarius Moore was another player that was misused throughout the course of the 2012-13 season. If Olson and the offensive staff want to put the players in the best possible position to make plays, we should see Moore used primarily as a vertical threat much like he was under Hue Jackson in his rookie season.
Overall, the offensive scheme change alone should make for some big and noticeable improvements in 2013.
Having said that, the offensive line must perform at a much higher level than they did in the preseason, as, regardless of scheme, a running game will never have success if the backs are constantly met by defenders in the backfield.
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The linebacker position has seen more turnover than any group on the roster, and may turn out to be the most improved as a result.
Taking over the three starting spots are two veteran free-agent additions, Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett, as well as a third-round rookie in Sio Moore.
Roach and Burnett will take on the middle and weak side spots respectively, and should provide this defense with some much needed experience and leadership as well.
Expect Sio Moore to play strong side linebacker on early downs, while also shifting to a pass-rushing defensive end spot in nickel situations, only increasing his potential impact.
These additions have pushed players like Miles Burris and Kaluka Maiava to backup and/or special teams roles, thus increasing the quality of depth overall. As a result, we should see a much better linebacker group than the Raiders have had in quite some time.
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Much like the linebacker group, the secondary has plenty of new faces after this offseason, and for good reason.
On a team that struggled throughout the 2012-13 campaign, the secondary was by far the weakest unit, allowing opposing quarterbacks to move the ball through the air at will.
Now, with the additions of Charles Woodson and Usama Young at safety, as well as D.J. Hayden, Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins at cornerback, the group is in much better shape.
How much better they will perform on the field remains to be seen, but both the starting and depth spots have been upgraded significantly.
If Hayden can make his transition to the NFL game as soon as the Raiders hope, reaching his potential as a top-tier cornerback, that progress will be all the more noticeable early on.
Overall, this unit will be one of the most interesting to watch throughout the Raiders' 2013-14 season.
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A team’s performance on special teams is quite often overlooked, but it is important to remember that it is indeed a third of the game, and can affect victories or losses accordingly.
With the Raiders’ recent struggles on coverage and return units, changes needed to be made, and the team’s new special teams coordinator is Bobby April.
April has been in the NFL for quite some time, and is one of the most respected special teams coaches in the game.
With improved depth at linebacker and in the secondary, April will likely have better players to work with on the special teams units.
Either way, with the potential for struggles on both offense and defense, this unit will have to contribute with big plays of its own, and cannot afford to give up many to the opposition.
Overall Roster Personnel
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When Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen took the reigns of the Raiders organization, it was obvious that a lot of changes would be made right away.
Having said that, it is still probably quite a surprise for many to see just how much has continued to change even between years one and two with this regime at the helm.
On defense, only two starters from the 2012-13 season, Lamarr Houston and Tyvon Branch, will carry the same roles in 2013. The other nine spots, as they currently stand, are held by free agent and rookie additions from this past offseason.
With next offseason being the first time in recent memory that the Raiders will have some salary cap space to work with, the trend of mass roster turnover will likely continue for at least one more year.