Alex's 32 Teams in 32 Days: Team 29—Oakland Raiders

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Alex's 32 Teams in 32 Days: Team 29—Oakland Raiders
(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

2008 Record:  5-11

 

2008 Season Review

After 2008 the Oakland Raiders became the first team in NFL history with six straight seasons with 10 or more losses.  That is nothing to be proud of.

Owner Al Davis is clearly frustrated with his team’s lack of recent success.

Maybe that’s the reason he made the change to his sixth different head coach in the last eight years in the middle of ’08 as he fired Lane Kiffin and hired Tom Cable.  Cable has be retained for the 2009 season…for now.

Despite the change of head coaches the Raiders weren’t able to make a run at the AFC West title.

JaMarcus Russell struggled through most of the season.  He showed off his cannon arm, but rarely showcased his skills to win close games and lead his team.

But clearly Russell was not the only anchor holding down the ship.

The defense was far from great.  In fact the run defense was atrocious.  The Raiders defense played more like Swiss cheese than a professional football defense.  Opposing offenses ran through them at an alarming rate.

The pass defense, however, was pretty good.  Actually, they were the No. 10 ranked defense against the pass.

Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha had another brilliant season holding down opposing receivers.  Teams rarely threw to receivers Asomugha was covering.

Opposite Asomugha was another elite cornerback named DeAngelo Hall.  At least for the first eight games that is.  Al Davis shocked the league by releasing Hall mid-way through the season.  This coming after Hall signed a big contract with the Raiders in the offseason.

Besides the pass defense, the only bright spot for Oakland in ’08 was the run game.  For the second straight year the Raiders ranked in the top 10 in rushing yards.  They averaged 124 yards-per-game on the ground.

The offense ranked 29th in points scored, and 29th in yards gained.

Defensively they ranked 24th in points given up and 27th in yards allowed.

 

Key Additions 

FB Lorenzo Neal, QB Jeff Garcia, S Keith Davis, C Samson Satele, DE Greg Ellis, OT Khalif Barnes, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (draft)

 

Key Losses 

C Jake Grove, S Gibril Wilson, LB Marquis Cooper, WR Ronald Curry, FB Justin Griffith

 

2009 Preview

The 2009 Raiders look like they may extend that consecutive 10 loss record.

From the draft, to free agency, the Raiders left many experts scratching their heads the way they tried to improve.

With the seventh overall pick in the draft, they selected Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.  Most people had Heyward-Bey going in the late first round and had several other receivers ahead of him.

DHB was a classic Al Davis selection. Davis loves guys with great speed, and Heyward-Bey does not lack in that category. In fact, Heyward-Bey ran a 4.3 40 time, the fastest of all wideouts at the combine.

Another speed-based pick came in the second round where the Raiders took safety Michael Mitchell.  Mitchell recorded a 4.43 40 time.  Many draft experts said they saw Mitchell lasting until the 6th or 7th round prior to the draft.

The Raiders brought in fullback Lorenzo Neal who will likely help the run game get even better.  Neal is best known for blocking for LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego in some of his best seasons.

The signing of veteran quarterback Jeff Garcia has stirred up a possible quarterback controversy in Oakland.  Garcia has expressed several times that he feels he should be the starter over Russell.  Garcia feels the coaches should go with the most talented quarterback.

"Now, if JaMarcus is that guy, then he definitely deserves to be on the field and should be on the field," Garcia said during a radio show in May. 

"But, if for some reason with what I bring as a player, from a competitive nature, and just the intensity and emotion that I bring to the field, and the knowledge of the game that I have—if that gives us a better chance to win football games, then that decision is going to have to be left up to the coach and hopefully he can make the right decision for the team"

Despite the talk from Garcia, Russell is expected to start at quarterback.

Along with Heyward-Bey, tight end Zach Miller serves as an adequate weapon for Russell in the pass attack. 

Miller, heading into his third NFL season, is one of the most underrated players at his position.

In two seasons Miller has 100 receptions for 1,222 yards and four touchdowns.

Another weapon for Russell is the ground attack.  Led by second-year back Darren McFadden, third-year man Michael Bush, and veteran Justin Fargas, the Raiders backfield should once again be one of the best in football in '09.

Defensively, the secondary will once again be the Raiders strong suit.  With the cornerback tandem of Nnamdi Asomugha and the speedy Chris Johnson, the unit should be able to rank in the top 10 in pass defense yet again.

However, the run defense will still have its problems.

Defensive lineman Terdell Sands and Tommy Kelly have fallen well short of expectations for their career.  Gerard Warren is another lineman who has struggled to reach his potential.  This leaves the middle of the D-line still very weak.

Defensive end Derrick Burgess has been rumored to be on the trading block. The loss of him would hurt the defensive line even more.

Trevor Scott and Greg Ellis will both battle for a starting defensive end job, but are each unlikely to cause major havoc.

 

Bottom Line: The Raiders will struggle both offensively and defensively in '09.  They may show flashes of potential, but in the end I don't foresee anymore than six or seven wins.

 

Previous Rankings

32. Detroit Lions

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

30. Cleveland Browns

Be sure to check in tomorrow for the unveiling of team 28. 

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