2009-2010 NFL Season Preview: Oakland Raiders
2008 Record: 5-11, third in AFC West
Head Coach: Tom Cable; first Year
Key Additions: FB Lorenzo Neal, QB Jeff Garcia, S Keith Davis, C Samson Satele
Key Losses: C Jake Grove, S Gibril Wilson, LB Marquis Cooper, WR Ronald Curry, FB Justin Griffith
Mediocrity in 2008 for the Oakland Raiders. Everything seems in good running order then.
From the controversy with former head coach Lane Kiffin, to the terrible performance on the field, something is always going wrong in Oakland.
Rookie, and franchise saving hopeful Darren McFadden did not make a very large impact at all. He was hampered by a turf toe injury, and received only half the carries that Justin Fargas would accrue.
The offense didn't score, and the defense let everyone score. It was quite an atrocious display.
It seems as though the only bright spot was elite cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
Jamarcus Russell struggled in his first full season as the starter, but showed promise late, as he led the Raiders to wins in two of the last three games, while throwing six touchdowns to only two interceptions.
He seemed to be taking strides towards improvement.
Russell is clearly physically gifted, and has great arm-strength, but he needs to vastly improve upon his accuracy, as well as his decision-making.
Russell completed only 53-percent of his passes last season. That just will not cut it.
The Raiders took a wild approach to the draft when they snagged speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey in the first round of the NFL draft. They passed up on more "solid" picks, such as Michael Crabtree.
The Raiders are banking on Heyward-Bey to provide a deep threat for Russell's monster arm.
The success of this offense rests on the shoulders of Russell and McFadden. McFadden must make an impact, and develop into the player they thought they drafted. If he can, it will open up some holes in the defense for Russell to get to his speedy receivers.
However, with the signing of Jeff Garcia, Russell may not be the starter for long.
If Russell gets off to a slow start, expect Garcia to take the field. Garcia is a proven guy who came off a fairly good season in Tampa Bay, and is only two years removed from a remarkable playoff run with Philadelphia.
Now, this defense is lacking in so many areas. It's hard to watch the unit live in action.
It seems as though the only bright spot was cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, but he can only do so much.
He's played so well that teams just don't throw to his side of the field anymore, but the Raiders don't have anybody to cover the other side.
The defensive line is the anchor to the defense. If they fail to produce a pass rush, any quarterback in the NFL will be able to complete passes, even against Asomugha.
Stud defensive end Derrick Burgess put forth a lack-luster performance last season, and had his lowest amount of tackles (24) and sacks (3.5) since his final season in Philadelphia.
The Raiders will need him to return to his 2005-2006 form in order to be productive in 2009.
Season Prediction: 7-9, second In AFC West
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