The Oakland Raiders Are Not Dead Without Chaz Schilens
Raider Nation has had an awesome offseason.
The preseason hasn't been bad either.
Aside from two mistakes, the defense has been a dominant unit. The offense showed signs of life last week in Chicago as the infusion of talent meshes together.
All the Raiders need to do is keep this going and take this momentum into the regular season.
But we have a problem now.
Chaz Shilens had his knee scoped out and will miss some time.
But the Raiders will be fine.
Turn the page to see why all is not lost in Raider Nation.
This is no longer a soft defense.
The Oakland Raider defense gave up the big play last week but that was a correctable situation. Eager rookie Rolando McClain overran the play to allow it to get out of the backfield.
Other than that and a touchdown pass given up by a late round pick, the defense has been stingy. McClain is known as a very smart football player so expect him to be under control hence forth.
The defensive line has 12 sacks in two games so NFL quarterbacks are on notice there. Both Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson are playing well now so simply throwing away from Nnamdi Asomugha shouldn't pay off as well as it did last year.
Look for this unit to crack the top 10 this year.
One of the main questions going into the Oakland Raider 2010 season is the offensive line. The left tackle is the most important of those players when protecting the quarterback.
I was not so sold on Henderson at first but he looks as if he is proving me wrong. The half that he played against the Chicago Bear's Julius Peppers could be evidence that he has stepped his game up for 2010.
His performance is the key to the vertical offense the Raiders plan to run this year. He has also blocked well in the run game as well so that will help the Raider offense even more.
We all know that Robert Gallery will make a Pro Bowl sometime soon if he stays healthy. The big problem for the Raiders is to Gallery's immediate right at the center position.
Samson Satele: Too soft to run-block or pass-block in the NFL.
Chris Morris: See Samson Satele and he makes mental mistakes.
Jared Veldheer isn't quite working out at left tackle but looks very good at center. He's a little tall for a center but has short legs that will allow him to bend inside.
Did you see the surge he created on the quarterback sneak in the Dallas game?
It may be by default but the Raiders may have found a great center in Veldheer for years to come.
Like Veldheer, Bruce Campbell was a left tackle in college.
He also looks good at another position.
Right guard just so happens to be a position of great need for the Silver and Black. Cooper Carlisle is no longer the same guy he was when he came to Raider Nation a few years back.
Meanwhile, Campbell seems to be handling the assignment quite well. He definitely has the speed to pull outside but he's showing the ability to move his man and make holes in the middle of the defense.
He has also held up well in pass protection so far.
With Langston "Clubber Lang" Walker handling the right tackle, this unit will be a nice mix of size, speed, youth, and experience.
It looks so far like this unit playing together at the same time can hold the rush for the Raider's vertical attack. The run-blocking this group could produce will keep the defense off the field.
This will be a run first team.
Tom Cable needs to just make the move.
The passing attack will suffer some but not too much. Zach Miller was sure to be the Raider's number one receiver with or without Schilens in the lineup.
He has been for the last two years anyway.
Miller will be the beneficiary of a lot of play fakes as the result of an improved run-game this year. The Raiders still have enough deep threats to keep any kind of double coverage off of him as well.
Quarterback Jason Campbell loves his tight ends so he may very well send Miller to the Pro Bowl this year.
In the NFL, one man's injury can turn into another man's ticket to stardom.
Louis Murphy already led the Raider receivers with 34 catches for 521 yards and four touchdowns last year.
What's more than that is the way the youngster progressed during the season.
What's even more than that is the way he performed in the clutch last year. See the Charger, Bengal and Steeler games for examples of Murphy's steady hands under pressure.
I also happen to believe he has more game speed than anyone in the NFL. He runs by defensive backs easily when running go routes. Murphy also does pretty well for himself running after the catch.
If Murphy builds on last season, Schilens' absence may not be a problem at all.
Darius Heyward-Bey so far in camp has shown himself to be a changed man from last year. Word out of camp is that he is running crisper routes and holding on to the football.
That 4.2 speed will be put to use after all.
But he has hardly played this preseason so we don't know just how changed he is yet.
Camp and games are two different things.
However it has been said that Heyward-Bey has worked tirelessly on his hands this offseason. He has also been spotted working with Asomugha after practice on getting off of bump and run coverage.
That has to count for something.
At the very least, he will be a deep threat that runs the coverage off of the other receivers. At the most, he will live up to being a number one pick and negate the loss of Schilens.
At least until Schilens comes back.
Nick Miller is Oakland's "Little Man That Could."
He could line up in the slot and catch the ball underneath.
He could use his return skills to run very well after the catch.
He could also beat you on a deep route.
That's what this little man could do.
Miller put all of his skills on full display last year in the preseason before getting injured. He grabbed a touchdown pass to start this year's preseason.
The Raiders could have problems getting him out of the rotation when Schilens comes back.
Brandon Myers has excellent hands and could start for a lot of teams. Miller being the best young tight end in the league is all of why Myers doesn't start for the Raiders.
However, he too can be a big help to the Raiders while Schiliens is out. I look for the Raiders to run some double tights on third down to have Myers in the game as an extra possession receiver.
Remember that the Raiders will have blazers on the outside while Miller is the opposite tight end.
For that reason, we will see plenty of Myers even with Schilens in the lineup.
Darren McFadden is a weapon I look forward to seeing.
Cable has promised that Raider Nation will see new and improved McFadden.
I believe it because beside strengthening his legs, he has only one improvement to make. If runs lower, all his problems from breaking tackles, injuries, and making people miss will be solved.
Michael Bush is also there to share running duties but it is McFadden that will pick up the most slack left behind by Schilens. McFadden is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and will have a lot of catches.
The Raiders run the same offense that had Ray Rice catching 70 balls last year and Campbell checks down. McFadden is also an even worse match-up than Rice is for opposing linebackers with that blazing speed.
It will be interesting to see how many of those passes McFadden takes the distance.
Campbell is the straw that stirs the drink.
He has the arm to get the ball deep to the fleet of Raider receivers but also he is willing to check down when it just isn't there for him down the field.
The Oakland Raiders will dare opposing teams to add men to the box to stop the Raider running game. When they do, Campbell will use that big arm to connect with the Raider track team down the field.
If it isn't open down the field, checking down to Miller (Zach) to move the chains is a good option. Checking down to McFadden is also a strong option as the big play is still possible with the ball in his hands.
Campbell has plenty of options while Schilens gets healthy.
The defense and running game is there so 30 points per game is not necessary for the 2010 Raiders anyway.
I hope you enjoyed the slide show!