Last season the Oakland Raiders' offense was horrible. You cannot deny it whether you are an analyst or the biggest Raiders homer there is.
The passing was simply not happening. Basically it amounted to JaMarcus Russell's first complete season. The left tackle spot was clearly not producing, the receivers were not stepping up, and there was a coaching change in the middle of the season.
This year looks different. There is a new left tackle in town. The receivers are a young, developing, healthy, and talented unit. And Tom Cable remains the head coach in Oakland.
The play calling will be different this year. Michael Bush showed the world in the last game of the 2009 season, breaking out and having a career game. Look for the Raiders to utilize him more in their offensive plans.
The depth of the running backs continues. With potential starter Darren McFadden at 100 percent health-wise, he should live up to expectations. The heart of the running back spot is clearly with Justin Fargas. He always gives it his all when the ball is handed to him.
Whether it is a counter or a dive, look for the running backs to be used a lot this season. Maybe, they could even be used in the passing game if the receivers do not produce. Bush, McFadden, and Fargas can all catch the ball well off screen plays.
Speaking of the passing, the new rookie getting all the attention is Darrius Heyward-Bey. You all know the story on him. He was picked too early according to nearly everyone that follows the NFL. He is simply fast, he will work well with Russell.
No other quarterback can throw the ball as far as Russell and DHB's speed can barely be matched. Practicing against the best corner in the game, Nnamdi Asomugha, should also make Heyward-Bey an improved receiver.
Johnnie Lee Higgins stood out last season, particularly at the end of the year. He led the team in receptions and became fairly consistent in the offense. Look for him to come out as the top receiver on the team. Chaz Schilens is also becoming better and some are even penciling him in as the starting, first string receiver.
The tight end spot has gotten better with Zach Miller. He will have a breakout year, and if the Raiders offense is decent, he may get selected into the Pro Bowl. He has speed for a tight end and the way he moves down the field so swiftly usually confuses defenders.
Even with all these options, don't forget that JaMarcus himself can be one of the fastest quarterbacks in the league. It may be a stretch to call him a stronger Michael Vick, but he could turn into a player of Vick's caliber in the near future, except without the off field issues.
Oakland's offense is looking fast, but as usual, the Raiders look great on paper. Let's see if they can convert and show that they are a much improved offensive team in September.
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