Editor's Note: The following was written prior to the addition of Richard Seymour.
NFC West: ARI | STL | SFO | SEA
Tom Cable stays around after taking over the team from Lane Kiffin early last season.
Oakland did themselves a favor this off-season by not signing anyone to ridiculous Javon Walker contracts. Some help at quarterback with the likes of Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye and recently cut Jeff Garcia, line help with Khalif Barnes and Marcus Johnson, and the big acquisition of Greg Ellis.
While the Raiders were highly ridiculed on draft day by taking Darrius Heyward-Bey and Mike Mitchell, they may have been the right picks. Another receiver, Louis Murphy, was sandwiched between three defensive end picks, Matt Shaughnessy, Stryker Sulak and Slade Norris.
Three Burning Questions
Will the offense find themselves this year?
So, not only did Jeff Garcia not take the starter’s role from JaMarcus Russell, he did not make the final roster. This could mean the end of a scrappy career that began just across the Bay.
But now that Russell is running the show, will the show be worth watching? The Raiders have one of the best running corps in the league. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush could combine for numbers similar to the Carolina duo last year.
Heyward-Bey has been progressing slowly, but Murphy has looked good. The team will be without Chaz Schilens to start the season, and Johnnie Lee Higgins has to improve on his preseason play.
Can the defense build around Nnamdi Asomugha?
Asomugha is probably the best corner in the league right now, and is on the short list of best defensive players in football. Can his supporting cast rise to his level this season?
Kirk Morrison is in a starting battle with Ricky Brown. Greg Ellis joins the line, and Mitchell has impressed when he’s been on the field. This is a do or die season for Michael Huff.
The defense was ranked 27th last season, and that should rise to around 20th this year.
Are the players behind Cable?
The biggest story out of Oakland in the summer was that of Cable allegedly punching, and breaking the jaw of, one of his assistants. But Cable has also implanted some new policies.
He’s taking it a lot easier on his team during practices, and is very high on walk-through’s and teaching opportunities. His players seem to like what he’s doing, with vocal support coming from Asomugha.
Good play: Darren McFadden will be given every opportunity to become the teams’ feature runner, and I expect a big season from him. Zach Miller should be a good 2nd TE
Avoid: Anybody else in the passing game. There are not a lot of weapons there yet, and Russell is likely to struggle.
Sleeper: Despite McFadden being the featured guy, and Fargas still around, Michael Bush could be good for 700 yards and six touchdowns, or better.
For the prognosis and final record, read the originally posted article here.
This is an original article by Pigskin Heaven Staffer, Sascha Bartels. You can read it, more of Sascha's articles, and more from the Pigskin Heaven staff here.