Oakland has a terrible offence. Why do I say this? Unproven talent. We can sit here all day and discuss how big a difference Jason Campbell is going to make to this team, but when I sit down and look at the Oakland Raiders offence I see lots of conjecture and little substance.
Now I've read lots of articles on the good things coming into this season in particular the wonderful draft we had. While I cannot deny I love the off season acquisitions ( as much as the off season releases ) and the good things I'm hearing back about Hue Jackson and his fire, I'm still not confident this is the Raiders year.
When we talk about proven starters, we're talking about players that have been consistently good for three or more years. When we look at the offensive side of the ball, there is a noticeable vacancy of players that have achieved that.
Let's break it down starting at the most inexperienced position, Wide Receiver. The Raiders have only three players listed with three or more year’s experience. Johnnie Lee Higgins, Yamon Figurs and Shaun Bodiford. Funnily enough, those recievers all have exactly three years experience. The best player statistically, and in my opinion, is Johnnie Lee Higgins. For his career he has forty seven receptions, six hundred and seventy six yards with four touchdowns. For those of you that don't know, that is considered a below par SINGLE season for a good wide receiver. Though it is important that I point out he has only had ten starts in that time period. If that isn't enough proof of an inexperienced and unproven receiver corps, the next best receiver Chaz Schilens was little better. In his two years in the league he has forty four receptions for five hundred and ninety one yards and four touchdowns. Though again I point out he had only fourteen starts in this time period due to various injuries.
Next in my evaluation, the Tight End position. No doubt this is the strongest position on Oakland's offence, with pro-bowl tight end Zach Miller, backed by a steady Tony Stewart and a rookie from last year who was considered a blocking Tight End, but also showed the ability to catch the ball, Brandon Myers.
LT. Considered the perennial position on the offensive line as the guy who protects the QB's blindside, the Raiders have reason to be nervous. I'm a fan of Mario Henderson, and take away the Washington Redskins game he looked good. Though the fact remains he let in the most sacks of any Left Tackle in the league. I consider Henderson a lock to play; Mario is unproven and so far inconsistent.
LG. Robert Gallery was brought in to become an elite Left Tackle. He failed, but he has succeeded in becoming a constant at the Left Guard and has flourished. Left Guard, like Tight End gets a tick of approval, if Gallery stays healthy.
Last year we saw Centre Samson Satele acquired from the team we traded our old Centre to, Jake Groves. Jake Groves was a good Centre but was often injured, so bringing in Samson Satele, a young guy who had started all thirty two games of his first two seasons, seemed at the time a good idea. During last years training camps there were reports of Satele struggling and that was reflected in the season where he was replaced by seventh round selection Chris Morris for a couple of games. Obviously this is still a position of concern and in no way is it filled by proven talent.
Left Guard was manned by someone until last season I would have considered a decent starter. Cooper Carlisle in my opinion looked to be constantly over-powered jolting back with any Defensive Tackles punch. He was constantly scrambling to recover and with Satele also struggling with his power the two where constantly driven backwards in pass defence. Weak. Literally.
Praise the lord!!! Cornell Green is no longer. The dark prince of penalties was released this off season. At this stage it seems to be a competition for the Right Tackle position that he left vacant so I cannot comment at this point in time.
The new face of the franchise Jason Campbell comes into a position which still smells of the disappointment, shame, cheeseburgers and ball sweat of previous starter Jamarcus Russel. This is debateable, but after passing through multiple co-ordinators and improving statistically every year I'm going to give Campbell the thumbs up and say that yes he is a competent starter.
Next to Wide Receiver as the most unknown position is Fullback. There is no definite starter and of the competitors (two of which are undrafted rookies from this year) there is little experience. In fact if it wasn't that Wide Receiver plays a bigger role in the offence I would be willing to say that this is the biggest area of concern. This is position is completely up for grabs.
This may surprise some people but to me Halfback still has no one proven player. Though Michael Bush has had a high per carry average, he still has not made the position his own and has been left in the notorious dog house. Darren McFadden the complimentary dash to Bush's smash is in the same boat as bush, though injury has been his major issue.
Using my criteria this means that of the eleven players on the offence three of those players are proven. If that isn't an indicator that we shouldn't be so sure coming into the season then I don't know what is.
With that in mind, I truly hope that come playoff time next year I'm back on this article offering my most sincere apologies and sharing my excitement with the rest of you Raider fans.
By Sam Walsh.