What is wrong with the Oakland Raiders? The reason for the last few extremely disappointing seasons starts with Jon Gruden. I'm not saying that Jon Gruden is a bad coach. I think he is a great coach. I loved how he turned the Raiders around. It is just that his plan for the raiders was to build to win over a one to two year period. He loaded the team with aging stars who wanted one last shot at the super bowl. He almost got them there. I'm positive the Raiders would have won the super bowl if he would have stayed. And I still think that we should have beat the patriots in the infamous tuck rule game.
After Gruden left, the freefall began. Their aging stars got older and less effective, combine that with the terrible string of coaching hires. And their inability to motivate and unite the team created the leagues largest laughing stock. Bill Callahan took them to the super bowl by using Jon Grudens playbook word for word. He didn't bother to change anything when he faced gruden in the super bowl. Coach Gruden knew every single play the raiders ran, and promptly ran them into the ground. The Raiders have not recovered since then.
They brought Norv Turner in to change things. With his reserved, laid back style of coaching he failed to change things in Oakland. I don't think it was completely his fault. He was just in the wrong situation. Take a look at the job he is doing in San Diego. It just goes to show that when a team hires a coach, they need to make sure he is a good fit with the system they run. In the Raiders case, they needed a coach to come in and from day one change the way things were ran. Someone who could motivate players, and get them to work as a team and believe they could win games. Norv Turner just sat back and let things continue to crumble in his two years. Turner was then fired.
The next year brought in Art Shell. A former raiders lineman and hall of famer. He proved that the NFL was a young mans game. It was obvious that he had lost touch of the game. He also decided to bring in offensive coordinator Tom Walsh. Who had been out of football for even longer. He had been running a bed and breakfast the last seven years. The offense subsequently suffered. As they failed to utilize Randy Moss, the best receiver in the game. Art Shell also tried to be an old school, "drill Sargent" type of coach. He treated the players like children, and created an atmosphere in which the players did not want to win for him. The raiders finished with the worst record in the league at 2-14. Everyone in Raider Nation was embarrassed by the team Al Davis had put on the field.
But in my opinion the team has made significant strides in the last year. Al Davis went back to what he does best. Developing young coaches. He hired Lane Kiffin out of USC. I think he made a great choice. It was obvious the attitude around the team has changed drastically. The players look like they are excited to play. They know a winning franchise is in the works. The raiders have also done a great job in the draft the last couple of years. We have our quarterback of the future in Jamarcus Russell. As opposed to some of the articles written on this topic. I think Russell is the real deal. First of all he can throw the ball eighty yards off of his back foot. But I know that being a great quarterback is about more than just being able to throw a football through a brick wall. I think he possesses the poise, the brains, and the ability to stay cool under pressure and make intelligent decisions in the clutch. I remember watching the bowl game against Notre Dame. I watched him thoroughly outplay fellow first rounder Brady Quinn by throwing four touchdown passes. I believe that game skyrocketed him to the number one pick.
The addition of McFadden in this years draft will pay huge dividends, as the Raiders finally get the gamebreaker they have been lacking. He will make JaMarcus' job that much easier. I think he will win two or three games for us on his own this year. I know we were stockpiled with running backs. But none of them are as good as Darren McFadden. Hopefully we can trade a couple of them and get something decent in return.
The Raiders put a ton of money into injured free agents in the offseason. The biggest question marks will be Javon Walker and Tommy Kelley. If Walker stays healthy, we will finally have a true #1 receiver to team with Zach Miller, who was Russells favorite target in his first start. If Tommy Kelley can play at the level Warren Sapp told the Raiders he can, it will allow Rob Ryan to let out a sigh of relief in the Raiders weak run defense. I still think they need to add a stopper on the defensive line. It would be nice to see the Raiders make a trade for Jason Taylor, as it seems he will no longer be with Miami. But that might be a little far fetched.
All in all. I think the Raiders have had a productive offseason. The question is, will all the pieces fit? Taking a look at the Raiders schedule. They should be at least 8-8 by seasons end. If not, then they have no one to blame but themselves.