The Oakland Raiders: Grading the Offseason Before Training Camp
Whether you hate or love the Raiders it's hard to argue that this offseason hasn't been a very positive one. The Raiders perhaps had one of the best draft weekends in the NFL, and the positive moves have continued through June.
Let's take a look at the following aspects of the team and see how they have done prior to camp.
I'll be the first to admit that I was not sold on Tom Cable and wasn't sure how he kept his job. But the more I hear about him the more I like him. Cable had too many duties last year, and wearing too many hats can be a bad thing for a head coach.
The addition of offensive coordinator Hue Jackson will help reduce a lot of the pressure on Cable. Jackson has already made a great impression not only on the fans and players but also on the media. Most of the media wishes the Raiders would let him talk more to them than he does.
While there are other coaching positions that need improving, keeping Cable around and adding Jackson will have a significant impact in Oakland. Cable has been the head coach for three seasons now, which makes him the longest tenured coach for the Raiders since Jon Gruden.
The strongest move the Raiders made this offseason was replacing JaMarcus Russell with Jason Campbell. With Russell it was all about potential that was never reached, but with Campbell you know what you are getting.
Campbell will be an upgrade at the quarterback position, but he will need help from the players around him.
Michael Bush and Darren McFadden will now be the primary backs in 2010. This will be great for both of them because they will be able to get into the flow of the game during the season. Hue Jackson runs more of a power offense, which will benefit both runners.
The receiving group is still a big question. They are a very young group of guys who have each yet to catch more than 30 passes in a season. Chaz Schilens, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy all look promising, but can they step up and be playmakers this year?
The offensive line got deeper with the additions of Bruce Campbell and Jared Veldheer in the draft, but they are rookies, so the Raiders may not see an immediate impact from them this year. Injuries were an issue in 2009, and the depth will be much needed.
If the line can improve, the offense should be firing on all cylinders.
The Raiders defense looks to be much improved in 2010. Its biggest concern was stopping the run, and the team has done very well in addressing that issue. The addition of rookies Rolando McClain and Lamar Houston will help.
Kamerion Wimbley, Trevor Scott and McClain are built more for stopping the run and getting to the quarterback than for pass coverage. John Henderson also addresses the need for a big man in the middle along with Tommy Kelly and Desmond Bryant.
The secondary will be solid once again. We all know what Nnamdi Asomugha can do, but this year Michael Huff and Tyvonn Branch should have breakout years.
Mike Mitchell will also provide depth and pressure in certain packages. The biggest question mark will be the cornerback on the opposite side of Asomugha.
The Raiders defense looks to be a top ten defense if the offense can help it out.
Despite all of the positive moves the Raiders have made, they haven't won a game yet. Training camp will show everyone a little bit more and will show which players have truly improved.
The Raiders have a great attitude and are playing hard this offseason. So hard that the NFL decided to cancel two of their OTA's.
Division rivals may mock the Raiders because of their last seven years, but the Raiders are still the last team in the AFC West to make the Super Bowl. A franchise like Oakland doesn't stay down for very long, which is why it has made it to a Super Bowl in every decade but the 1990's. Can the Chargers, Broncos, or Chiefs say that?
It is only a matter of time before the silver and black is back.
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