Oakland Raider fans seem to be very optimistic about this upcoming season. Most seem to believe that this could be the breakout season we have been waiting for. A lot of fans feel the division is up for grabs due to the rebuilding efforts of Kansas City and Denver. A goal of a .500 season could possible get us into the playoffs. To make that possible here are five things I feel we must do well.
People seem to underestimate the value of a good special team unit. The Raiders may have one of the better special team units in the NFL. Shane Lechler is the best punter in the NFL and resiging him was a must. Last season K Sebastian Janachowski played extremely well. Higgins was great returning Kicks and Punts for us and the resigning of special teams star Isaiah Ekejiuba keeps a very good unit intact. Expect a lot of excitement from the Raider special teams this season.
Jamarcus made great strides last season in his improvement. Last season he only had eight interceptions but overall his accuracy was not good. Many times he would overthrow a simple short pass or a wide open reciever. If he can improve his accuracy this season and continue to not throw interceptions he should have a solid season. That is a lot of 'ifs' though, if he struggles early you may see newly acquired QB Jeff Garcia in the backfield before week 5.
This was our glaring weakness on defense last season. Our secondary is solid, but we tend to give up big runs to often. Last season we often gave up big runs on crucial 3rd downs and that makes winning games difficult.
I did see improvement toward the end of the season with an increase of 3rd and 4th down stops. If the run defense can even perform at an average level we should be able to compete with just about anyone.
Fargas, Mcfadden and Bush ohh My....
Add a hard nosed fullback to the group (Lorenzo Neal) and this is by far one of the deepest backfields in the league. In my opinion we should run the ball and then run it some more. Pound the ball inside with Fargas and Bush and then run right by them with McFadden.
The Raiders improvment must start here. Our decline started here back in the superbowl when Barret Robbins pulled his famous disapearing act. I remember a game I went to in Seattle in 2006. Raiders vs Seattle Monday night football game. Andrew Walter was sacked 9 times that game and after that Randy Moss just quit playing. During this offseason we have added OT Khalif Barnes, OT Erik Pears, C Samson Satele and released Kwame Harris (which is addition by subtraction in my opinion). All three could compete for a starting spot on the line. If anything we should have much better depth this season. If the line fails to perform well don't expect much from this team. On the other hand if they play well we could possibly be looking at a playoff spot.