Oakland Raiders All-Time Starting Offense

Carl CockerhamSenior Analyst IJuly 26, 2011

Oakland Raiders All-Time Starting Offense

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    Al Davis has always believed in having an explosive offense, so he has had his share of explosive offensive players. The power running game with the deep ball off of it are the principals in which it all happens.

    The offensive line has always been the big boys on the block that bullied the opposing defenses. From there, the speed an power of the running backs must be dealt with then the pure speed of the receivers is next.

    This has to be exhausting for a defense, so when it works, opposing defenses get wore out. From this formula, I put together an all-time starting Raiders' offense that could wear out any defense.

    Turn the page to see what it is.       

Left Tackle: Art Shell

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    We start this offense with Hall of Fame left tackle Art Shell.

    Shell gave his quarterbacks time to drop back and eat a sandwich in the pocket before throwing the ball. He is at least one of the best if not the best left tackle in the history of the NFL.

    In 15 years with the Raiders, Shell was an All-Pro twice and went the Pro Bowl eight times.

    The vertical game was alive and well under his watch.

Left Guard: Gene Upshaw

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    Gene Upshaw was a big, strong, and fast man that the Al Davis moved to guard from tackle. I heard that many laughed at the time, but Upshaw had the last laugh on the way to nine Pro Bowls and five All-Pros in 15 years.

    He battered the man across from him to open holes for the running backs that ran behind him. Pulling and leading a running back through a hole with his speed also made him valuable to the running game.

    In the passing game, he gave his quarterbacks a place a step up into while in the pocket. His quarterbacks were always able to step into their throws and drive the ball down the field in the Raiders' vertical game.

    Upshaw was a big man with big value.

Center: Jim Otto

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    Jim Otto exemplified Raider football like non other.

    Like Shell and Upshaw, he was equally adept to plowing open holes or forming a pass pocket for quarterbacks. He was a total team guy that sacrificed himself for his teammates to the tune of around 28 knee surgeries.

    His right leg is now amputated so you can say he gave his right leg to is teammates. In his book entitled The Pain of Glory Otto tells the world that he wouldn't change a thing.

    I don't need to say anything else.

Right Guard: Steve Wisniewski

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    Wisniewski was a mauler that played from snap to a millisecond after the whistle. He was on the borderline of a late hit on nearly every player as he wanted to give opposing defensive lineman something to remember.

    That approach led Wisniewski to eight Pro Bowls and two All-Pros in 13 years with the Raiders. Like the aforementioned offensive lineman, he plowed holes and gave his quarterback time to throw from the pocket.

    I sure wish the Raiders had a quarterback from the beginning of his career.

Right Tackle: Lincoln Kennedy

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    At 6'6", 325 pounds, Lincoln Kennedy was a behemoth of a man.

    He used his size to not just maul but to mash opposing defensive lineman in the running game. I can imagine how it must have been in the offensive meeting room with the offense watching film of the previous game.

    "Oh!"

    That's after they watch Kennedy pancake another man.

    Kennedy pancaked his way to three Pro Bowls and one All-Pro in eight years as a Raider.

    Napoleon Kaufman then later Charlie Garner and Tyrone Wheatley got their running behind him and Wisniewski.

Tight End: Dave Casper

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    This one was really hard between Dave Casper and Todd Christensen.

    Casper went to four Pro Bowls to Christensen's five but was an All-Pro four times to Christensen's two. I picked Casper because he was a bigger man and a former left tackle that blocked better in the running game.

    Christensen had better numbers, but they were both great down the field targets and clutch.

    Ghost to the post was something else.  

Fullback: Marcus Allen

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    For my money, Marcus Allen was the greatest football player ever to wear the Silver and Black. The Heisman Trophy winner went to the Raiders from USC to win the Rookie of the Year, NFL MVP, Playoff MVP, and Super Bowl MVP.

    He was as great running back, could line up at receiver, and I once saw him knock out defensive tackle then with the Cleveland Browns Bob Golic as a blocker. He could also throw the ball well as Christensen said, "He could throw the ball better than our quarterbacks."

    Remember, he got the job done for Bo Jackson as a lead blocker when Jackson became a Raider. 

Tailback: Bo Jackson

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    How can I not start him!

    Bo Jackson was 6'1", 230 pounds and had sub 4.2 40-speed.

    He was plenty skilled as a running back but his height, weight and speed alone made him a beast! Talent like that led Allen to volunteer to move to fullback to block for Jackson.

    This was the most dynamic backfield tandem in NFL history.

    Too bad they did't get a chance to do more together.

    It's especially too bad Jackson didn't get to realize his full potential.

No. 1 Receiver: Tim Brown

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    Tim Brown is the greatest receiver in Oakland Raider history period.

    I put him in the top three in the NFL all-time because he had a the highest degree of difficulty of all of the top receivers. Jerry Rice is the greatest, but I wonder what Brown would have done had he not played with the likes of Vince Evans, Todd Marinovich, Jay Schoeder and Jeff George.

    He only had Rich Gannon for four years and still managed to get to No. 2 on the all-time receiving list as at the time he retired. He also managed to get to eight Pro Bowls in his 15 years with the Raiders.

    Brown had great hands, ran great routes and was one of the fastest men in the league at one time. 

    That's a complete No. 1 receiver.

Deep Threat: Cliff Branch

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    Many of you are going to scream at the top of your lungs because Fred Biletnikoff isn't in my starting lineup. The Raiders' aren't the type of team top not have a top notch deep threat on the field.

    Cliff Branch is one of the best deep threats in the history of the games, so I paired him with Brown. Biletnikoff can come in on three wide receiver sets, but Brown and Branch will make defenses think hard about moving a safety into the box to stop Jackson and Allen.

    Branch is third behind Brown and Biletnikoff on the Raiders' all-time receiving list. He also went to four Pro Bowls and made three All-Pro teams in his 14 years with the Raiders.

    But striking fear into opposing defenses is why he starts along with Brown. 

Quarterback: Ken Stabler

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    Ken "The Snake" Stabler is my choice to lead this group into battle.

    He could squeeze a ball into places that other quarterbacks just couldn't squeeze a ball into. He was no Daryl Lamonica, but he had enough of an arm to get it deep to Branch and others in his day.

    I really don't care to get into Pro Bowls and All-Pros because the thing he did was win. I don't just mean he was on a team that won, I'm talking about his 19 fourth quarter comebacks and 26 game-winning drives.

    The "sea of hands" throw was just another part of Stabler's magic.