With the 4th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft the Oakland Raiders Select.............Darren McFadden, Running Back, Arkansas University.
And then it began...
Gone are the days of late when Al Davis would have taken the fastest DB on the board, and not answered a team need.
Gone are the days when he spent the 1st round pick on a player that had huge upside, but was a reach.
Gone are the days when we as Raider Fans spent the next few days talking about what a horrible pick the team made.
Here are the days that we sit and talk about what a great pick they made. How, for the first time since the days of Marcus Allen, we have a running back that can, at the drop of a dime, change the game's outcome.
Think about how this will sound over the years.
"Russell hands off to McFadden, McFadden cuts out to the right, gets a great block from Miller, makes one tackler miss, now another, up the sideline he goes, just one man to beat, he has him, he's breaking away, nobody is gonna catch him....25,20,15,10,5....TOUCHDOWN RAIDERS!"
And that is just one of the many reasons that the old days are going to remain a thing of the past. Add to the mix that the same line that provided the run blocking good enough to put us in the top six in the ground game and it only gets better. Same offensive coordinator, same scheme, same players with the exception of the upgrade at center with the addition of John Wade.
Air Silver and Black is led by Javon Walker, along with Drew Carter and Ronald Curry. All are proven. All have the capacity to be play-makers. The O-line cut the number of sacks in half almost compared to the year before.
J Russ is more elusive than any other QB we have had since Vince Evans and can make people miss when things break down. It helps that he is also 6'5" and 269 or whatever the published story is these days. He is not going to sit around like the tree that is Andrew Walter, and he is not gonna take punishment like McClown.
He will dealing the shots out. He is bigger than most LB's in the game. The kid has a cannon for an arm, tons of athletic ability, and it was evident the first time he hopped under center against the Chargers.
With no training camp and the few plays he had at his disposal he was still able to throw for 224 yards and a touchdown. Give him an entire camp, a chance to bond and get the chemistry with his receivers and the ground game he can fall back on and he will do wonders.
The SEC connection that is McFadden and Russell is being considered along the same lines as the combo that lead Dallas to glory for years with Smith and Aikman. They have got a long way to go but time is on their side and we are lucky enough to watch them grow and mold this team back into the powerhouse that it once was.
The one thing I have not covered? Yep, defense. Defense. Defense. We went from powerhouse in 2006 to doghouse in 2007. What changed? Well, personnel wise, not much. But take a look at how many three and outs the offense had. The D was on the field way too much. We did not have enough depth to go to the bench and keep that same talent level on the field.
The next question is "Well what have we done to fix that?" Insert an offensive tidbit here: JaMarcus Russell under center for the first time with a year that he has spent frequenting, per Lane Kiffin, the Oakland Training Facility more than any other player this off season working with everyone and learning everything along with a full training camp and preseason is the first thing.
A healthy Fargas is second. The added threat of DMac. The solid receivers and most importantly the concrete O line and its improvements. That helps the defense by itself. They are off the field more than on.
The second thing is the playmakers we signed. The Raiders lacked a true strong safety. Huff was there. Now he is back to his FS spot where he was in college. In comes Gabril Wilson from New York Giants, where he lead the team in tackles.
The addition of the Pro Bowl shutdown corner in DeAngelo Hall makes what is possibly the best secondary in the NFL currently. The money Al spent on TK the tank is for good reason, and he'll show why.
The supporting cast makes for a great amount of depth and a solid set of contributors based upon not only merits already achieved but the desire to play at a level demanded by this reloaded franchise.
The 2008-2009 season marks another beginning. Another chance to return to the yesteryears of dominance and while it may not be this year, growth will happen.
Maturity and chemistry will make it's way back and run it's course. 8-8? Realistic. 9-7? Possible. 10-6? A reach. A playoff birth? If the stars align correctly. A Super Bowl Championship? If God himself reaches down and intervenes then yes. Maybe. He has done stranger things.
Whatever the outcome it will finally be fun to watch the Raiders again. It's in the air. You get that vibe. Everyone is feeling it. Some don't know what it is but know they feel something.
The Raiders are back. We have waited. We have witnessed a stretch since our Super Bowl loss that has been plagued with horrible decisions on the coaching and player levels.
Poor play and many losses have occurred, but that time is on the decline. Momentum is leaving San Diego. Its leaving Denver. It's left KC and we have it now. Time for us to get a return to our Sundays that we spent over the past five years cheering you on, waiting for.
The fair weathered fans are gone now. The true fans are still here. I am still here. You are still here. Win, lose or tie..........The Raider Nation stays strong and we remain Raider Fans until we die.