Oakland Radiers 2011: 18 Reasons Raider Nation Should Be Excited
Back in 2003, the Westside Connection with lead rapper Ice Cube released a song called Gangsta Nation. The first thing Ice Cube says in the song is, "Consider this an invitation to my gangsta nation."
Ice Cube is a known Raider fan and has since come out with Raider Nation.
But for the article title, I had to borrow the opening words from Gangsta Nation to invite football fans to Raider Nation. A lot of fans left the nation because all of the losing the Raiders have done from 2003-2009.
They were just 8-8 in 2010 but showed flashes of what they can become in the future. This invitation is for a limited time so football fans need to hurry up and become a citizen of Raider Nation.
Once the invitation is rescinded, Raider Nation borders will be watched like the U.S./Mexican and Canadian borders.
Turn the page to see why now is a great time to be a Raider fan.
They're Going to Play!!!
First thing's first!
There is going to be a football season!
The players and owners are very close to having a CBA!
The owners have voted on an agreement, and the players don't seem to be too far from the same page right now. Barring the unforeseen, the players will agree soon, and the wheels will start to turn from there.
Anything can happen, but there doesn't appear to be any huge hurdles.
I'm expecting this deal to be done in days!
The AFC West
The Raiders owned the AFC West last year, and it doesn't seem like the other teams match up with the Raider any better on paper now.
The Chiefs got themselves a receiver in the draft that the Raiders shouldn't have a problem dealing with. Then they lost linebacker Mike Vrabel to retirement, and his leadership on defense will be missed.
The Chargers haven't gotten any better at making players happy, tagging Vincent Jackson again. Put that together with the fact that they may very well lose Malcolm Floyd, and that's not too good.
We'll see if Jackson reports right away himself.
The Broncos will need another year or two before they can contend for anything. John Fox is now in Denver and switched their defensive scheme to 4-3, but they drafted a pass-rushing outside linebacker.
How is that going to help them stop the Raiders' running attack?
There's always free agency, but the division looks like it could be there for the taking as of now.
The Raiders Now Have Their Center
Stefen Wisniewski is now a Raider to match his blood lines.
The Raiders were ranked No. 2 running the ball in 2010 with an undersized center and right guard in a power blocking scheme. In some of emerging running back Darren McFadden's big runs, the middle of the line was actually pushed back, and McFadden avoided a tackle in the backfield.
Add the 6'3", 315-pound Wisniewski at center and the Raiders will control the middle of the line much better in 2011. Wisniewski's size and pedigree are very important with all of the teams that run the 3-4 scheme.
The running game should be even better in 2011.
Size Added at Guard
Right guard Cooper Carlisle has given the Raiders plenty in his time with the Raiders. I don't know if that plenty has run out, but at 6'5", 295 pounds, he clearly isn't a fit for a power blocking scheme the Raiders now use
Bruce Campbell is does have the size at 6'7", 320 pounds and is freakishly fast too. His sub-5.0 40-yard dash wheels will serve him well in pulling to escort the speedy McFadden to the perimeter of the defense.
Campbell figures to help McFadden run inside and out.
Big Hitter Mike Mitchell
Mike Mitchell has always been a big hitter, but last year's head coach Tom Cable questioned his coverage skills. When he was allowed unto the field, he was rock solid in coverage, and his hitting was still there.
I expect the controversial 2009 second-round pick to start in 2011 because he has shown that he isn't a liability in coverage. In fact, his competition, Tyvon Branch has shown that he is a liability in coverage.
With Michael Huff seeming to be on the move, maybe Branch goes to free safety to bring the 6'1", 220-pound Mitchell into the box.
The highlight-reel hits we will see from him is what excites me here.
We should all be excited about what Louis Murphy will do in 2011.
He looked more like a rookie first-round receiver than Darrius Heyward-Bey while showing the clutch gene in 2009. In 2010, he was on pace to be the Raiders' first 1,000-yard receiver since Randy Moss in 2005.
But an injury to his clavicle and a bruised lung derailed what was to be Murphy's breakout season. His speed, improved hands and route running have Murphy ready to be a No. 1 receiver and deep threat.
That clutch gene is there too.
Solid Quarterback: Jason Campbell
Al Davis was quick to call Jason Campbell "the next Jim Plunkett" when he aquired him in a trade. Many citizens of Raider Nation accused Davis of blaspheming on his own franchise.
But the funny the is that the more the citizens say, the more they confirm how much alike they are! They say, "He's no Plunkett, he's just a game manager the depends on the running game."
That's excactly what Plunkett did.
He managed the game and made plays when he had to. Once he got comfortable in his new seat, Campbell did the same thing.
The Super Bowl is a team achievement.
Plunkett had Marcus Allen and Kenny King like Campbell has McFadden. Plunkett had Art Shell and Bruce Davis at left tackle. Campbell has?
Just watch as Campbell builds off of his play down the stretch in 2010.
Sophomore Season: Rolando McClain
Rolando McClain had up and down rookie season in 2010.
But he did start to adjust to the pro game as well the middle linebacker position from the inside linebacker position.
But one thing McClain did all year was bring it and opposing teams felt the impact of the new secretary of defense in Raider Nation.
McClain started to find the football better down the stretch to add to his physicality and showed what 2011 is going to look more like for him. He was also surprisingly good in pass coverage, so we know he's able to stay on the field on passing downs.
McClain had 85 tackles in 15 games in 2010 to along with one interception.
I look forward to more with the defensive line he has in front of him in his sophomore season.
Under the Influence of Seymour: Tommy Kelly
Tommy Kelly finally showed why he got that big contract back in 2008 with a solid year in 2010. He notched seven sacks and was an alternate for the Pro Bowl after the 2010 season.
The man has always had the talent but sometimes it takes a guy of Seymours' stature to make an undrafted free agent realize just how good he is.
There might have been some technical things that Seymour showed him, but his motor and swagger are what stood out the most to me.
Good luck opposing guards.
Under the Inlfuence of Seymour: Matt Shaughnessy
Matt Shaughnessy came on last year as a pass rusher last year for the Silver and Black. He also did a good job in the run game when he entered the starting lineup.
He had 56 tackles and seven sacks in just eight starts for the Raiders in 2010. From this, I believe he is sure to be in double-digits for sacks in 2011 as he starts all 16 games.
Looking at these four men, I can see the problem in getting huge sack totals.
They take sacks away from each other.
Under the Inlfuence of Seymour: Lamarr Houston
Lamarr Houston will be all over the opposing team's quarterback.
This 300-pounder with 4.7 wheels is a nasty boy with no limits to his talent and will be a nightmare for right tackles. Houston started to take to the teachings of Richard Seymour, and he started to flash down the stretch of 2011.
His rookie campaign ended with five sacks, which isn't bad for a rookie base end. Now he goes into 2011 with that season under him and more teachings from Seymour to come.
You'll be hearing a lot more from Houston soon!
Big-Play Man: Jacoby Ford
Jacoby Ford is a big-play man period.
You can't just call him a deep threat because he makes plays in the return game and running after the catch. He can also take it the distance running the ball on a reverse.
On NFL Network, Hue Jackson told the world the Ford would become a "household name" in 2011. This means that Jackson intends to use Ford's speed and explosiveness to Raiders' advantage this year.
It also helps that he seemed to get the trust of the Campbell down the stretch of 2010.
Career Reclaimed: Kamerion Wimbley
With all the attention on the front four the Raiders have, Kamerion Wimbley will do his thing when called upon.
The Raiders don't do a lot of blitzing, but Wimbley puts his hand on the ground on third down at defensive end.
In 2010, it worked out to the tune of nine sacks to go with 58 combined tackles, one forced fumble.
He wasn't too bad in pass coverage either.
Is Stanford Rout the Raiders' new shut-down corner?
Either way, I am very excited to see what he will be able to do for the Silver and Black in 2011. You should be too because he was second among corners in the NFL in burn percentage. (39.4)
If All-World corner Nnamdi Asomugha had been thrown at enough, Routt would have tied with him. I actually question if overrated Jets corner Darrelle Revis himself is any better than Routt.
Revis' burn percentage is 5.5 percent better than that of Routt and Routt gave up one more touchdown. But that one more touchdown came in 43 more attempts toward him.
Routt's touchdowns to attempt ratio is every 20 attempts.
Revis' is every 14 attempts.
Touchdown ratio is important.
Routt saw more of the opposing team's best receiver than Revis did in 2010 too!
I'm not saying it, I'm just questioning it.
Pro Bowl Tight End: Zach Miller
Zach Miller was a Pro Bowl tight end for the Raiders in 2010.
There were seven tight ends in the NFL that had better statistics, but you must consider Millers circumstances. First off, the Raiders were No. 2 in the NFL running the ball, so there weren't a lot of passes to go around.
Then there is this position called left tackle that was very good for the Silver and Black in 2010. Miller was often held in to help pass block on the left side instead of out in a pass route.
I know the Raiders don't have him signed yet, but I would be shocked if he didn't.
With an improved left tackle position, Miller will get to do his damage in 2011.
Leading the Way to a Dominant Defense
The Oakland Raiders can have a dominant defense in 2011, and it starts up front. The guy that will be leading the way from up front is none other than the incomparable Seymour.
Seymour will make some plays but don't expect him to be among the league leaders in any statistical categories. He will take every opposing team's double and triple teams to make stars of his teammates.
But every opposing team's game plan will be based off of Seymour.
NFL MVP? Darren McFadden
Darren McFadden broke out in spectucular fashion for the Silver and Black in 2010. He was No. 1 in carries over 20 yards and tied for No. 2 with Chris Johnson in carries over 40 yards
McFadden finally stayed healthy long enough to use his speed, power and elusiveness to rush for 1,157 yards. He also had seven rushing touchdowns and a yards per carry average of 5.2
McFadden also had 47 catches, 507 yards, three receiving touchdowns and a 10.8 yards per average. Based on what I saw last year, an improved offensive line and Jackson's use of him, I could predict anything for him.
He could rush for 2,000 yards or have 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving!
The total yards from scrimmage record is under attack as long as McFadden healthy.
It's all about the quarterbacks, but he'll be a candidate.
This young Raider team will be exciting as the players I have named are set to do their thing. I didn't include phenomenally talented receiver Chaz Schilens because I have yet to see him play in an opening day game.
I don't have the great corner Nnamdi Asomugha in here either because no one knows what he's going to do. Michael Huff is another player that I would be excited about coming back if I knew he were.
I'm excited about Jared Veldheer if the Raiders address the left tackle position and move him to the right side. However, I don't know that they will so that's another situation that remains to be seen.
I stayed away from free agents as there were enough players already on the team to be excited about.
Consider this an invitation to my Raider Nation!
There's going to be some excitement in 2011!