Last year was loaded with many injuries,a blitz of negative media towards Tom Cable, many negative story lines regarding JaMarcus Russell,and not to be able to put together two wins in a row.There was a distraction around every corner.
They saw that Jason Campbell was being released and went to snag him up right away with a bargain basement contract.They got a player who improved his play and performance every year despite the fact of having 5 different coordinators in 6 years and having different head coaches,and many different offensive playbooks to learn.All this,without being discouraged,verbally voicing negative opinions,and avoiding injuries behind a terrible offensive line.
This year is a whole lot different.It started way before voluntary workouts.Many of the young players were already gearing up for the season by coming(when they didn't have to)and getting themselves better with weight training,film study,and by working on there craft on the field.
In OTA's,they had 100% participation.Meaning everyone showed to put in the extra work.
Tom Cable and the scouting department then came away with a solid draft with many "need" positions filled with quality and talented players.
They didn't stop there,they got the young talent signed and into camp right away.The Raiders made a statement by paying draft picks and getting them in camp before many of the draft picks from other teams where still working on deals and being drafted after McClain.
Many criticized Tom Cable's walk through camp,but failed to realize it helps everyone (especially the rookies and new players) get up to speed on the playbook right away.It also helped the players stay healthier through camp.That's a big thing considering how our rival Broncos are dropping like flies.
There are many story lines of players set to prove they are not busts,they are worth there pick,and/or trade.
Here are the many questions that have been stated or fans need answered.Most will be answered this year.
Q:Can the Raiders convert on 3rd downs this year?
A:Tom Cable hired Hue Jackson to improve that and the play calling.This should be a huge improvement from last year.
Q:Can The Offense be competitive this year?
A:Again this will fall on Jackson shoulders and Campbell & company should be productive.
Q:Can the Offensive line do there job and pass block to keep Campbell upright?
A:Cable now has more time to work on area of what he knows.He is already making Henderson pay for mental mistakes by having him do 50 push ups each time.It also helpful that we have some good young talent that will be able to take someones job if they don't.
Q:Will DHB ever live up to his 1st round draft(1st overall of WR's)pick and start be productive?
A:DHB has not taken a day off since last season.He's put in more off season work than anybody.He's also stayed after practice and worked with Nnamdi to improve his play.I'm sure we will see a much better player this year with many more catches for huge gains and TD's.
Q:Can Darren McFadden shed his bust label,not get "shoestring"tackled,and stay healthy for a full year to be productive?
A:Hue Jackson has been working with Darren and hopefully has him ready to go for the start of the regular season.He should be getting some playing time vs the Bears.We will see.If not,we have Cartright or Bennet to take his spot.
Q:Can Chaz Shilens stay healthy and contribute all season long
A:Chaz was 7th round steal and has had more than his share of injury problems.His main problem has been his ankle and has had work done on it,but still has soreness in that area.Hopefully he will be better off than in years past,because he is a much needed receiver that has the most experience out of the group.
Q:With Nnamdi shadowing the number 1 receiver,can our other DB's step up and cover the 2nd and 3rd receivers?
A:With a solid draft of later round DB's such as MacFadden,Ware,and Brown someone may get someones job if they don't.Routt has also been working hard trying to take Chris Johnson's position.There is now plenty of depth and competition.
Q:Will The Oakland Raiders be able to put multiple wins together back to back this year?
A:This will change this year.With Jason Campbell as QB now,there is a new sense of optimism.I think they can even put a 3 game win together.
Q:Will the defense be able to stop the run?
A:There have been major additions with McClain,Henderson,Groves,Wimbley.The improved play of Kelley,Seymour,and Scott will also send this D into the top 10.
Q:Can Michael Bush be the every down Running Back he wants to be?
A:Yes,even though he was winded at times last year,he will be the grinder everyone hoped he'd be.I look for him to break the 1,000 yard mark easy.Much of his success is on the O lines shoulders.
Q:With continuity at the coaches position,will this be the year it all turns around?
A:I can honestly say it will.Just ask the Washington Redskins and Jason Campbell that question and he'll be the first to tell you "H&!! No"!.I can see our Raiders making the playoffs this year.There has been excitement in Oaktown there hasn't been in years!
These are the many questions that need answered or addressed.If they can answer them,then I can see us heading towards the playoffs and even further.
I'm sure some of you have your own questions.Please feel free to ask them in the comments if you feel i missed any.
One thing that is for sure Raider Nation,there is a new sense of excitement and enthusiasm which should turn into many wins this season.
I hope the NFL is ready for the SURPRISE!