There are two reasons the Raiders have no chance of making it to the Super Bowl this year—or even the next.
First off, the Raiders don’t have a dominant offense.
Go ahead, try and prove me wrong. You can’t.
Without a high-powered offense, the Raiders will undoubtedly struggle to put points on the board.
Secondly, the Raiders don’t have a dominant defense, either. Thus, other teams will undoubtedly have no trouble putting points up on the board against the Raiders.
Once again, feel free to challenge me.
But without one or the other—or even both—no NFL is going to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy this season.
While you probably don’t need me to tell you, the Raiders clearly don’t qualify as a Super Bowl contender under these assumptions.
The Raider Nation can dream and have faith, but it won’t happen—not this year nor the next.
I’ve tried and tried to imagine a metamorphism in which the Raider defense becomes solid, invincible, and dominant.
Sadly, even in my wildest imaginations, there are no overnight remedies that seem to even hypothetically cure the Raiders’ defensive ills, namely their rush defense.
I have, however, devised two situations in which the Raider offense could catapult to become the No. 1 offense in 2009.
1. Raiders Abandon Russell’s Hopeless Passing Game
As I’ve pointed out before, the Raiders’ air “assault” was absolutely pathetic last season. You can say JaMarcus Russell will improve. Has to improve. Whatever. But until he actually does, I’m not buying into it.
So, let’s imagine that Russell, for the sake of my hypothetical situation, completes 10 of 22 passes in week one for 79 yards no touchdowns and three interceptions against San Diego. And for the sake of the argument, he follows up week two with an even more dismal performance.
That same week, Al Davis decides to give Michael Vick, who just happened to be reinstated to the NFL by Commissioner Roger Godell at the same time, a chance to play for the Raiders, while completely forgetting Jeff Garcia is even on the active roster.
Vick learns the Raiders’ system overnight, and after secretly playing football everyday, while in jail with his fellow inmates against the guards, ala Burt Reynolds and Adam Sandler in “The Longest Yard,” leads the Raiders to a 14-2 season.
Vick, who threw for 3,000 yards and ran for another 1,500, is named the NFL MVP and leads the AFCs top-seeded Raiders to the Super Bowl.
2. Raiders abandon hopeless passing game altogether.
In week one, Darrius Heyward-Bey doesn’t catch a single pass. Russell can’t hit the target. Heyward-Bey is simply just too fast. So fast, in fact, that it throws Russell’s timing off on his other targets, who he claims to be too “slow.”
Al Davis comes to the conclusion that his No. 1 overall pick may never become the star he had hoped for and decides the Raiders don’t need to pass the ball anymore. His reasoning, the Raiders have too much speed and can just run the ball all day long.
Coach Tom Cable installs a permanent “Wildcat” offense. Michael Bush, Justin Fargas, and Darren McFadden rotate as two of the three in the backfield and Lorenzo Neal becomes a permanent blocking force. Every now and then, the Raiders opt for the trick play and give the ball to Heyward-Bey on a reverse, because he’s so fast nobody can catch him.
The Raiders go on to finish the season 15-1, because no team can stop them from running 300+ yards per game, and Heyward-Bey sets a wide receiver all-time record of rushing touchdowns, scoring 30 on the season.
The Raiders cruise through the playoffs and on to the Super Bowl with the introduction of the halfback toss pass in “Wildcat” formation to throw the other teams off.