Can it happen? Absolutely! Here is a little perspective on what we know.
Without a doubt,coaches Hue Jackson and Mike Waufle make us better; we did not have an offensive coordinator and our new D line coach has a super bowl ring to go along with his previous success in Oakland. There is no question as to whether or not our QB position has become an area of strength. How many teams have three QB’s that have been successful as starters in the NFL at some point? We rid ourselves of the two worst players in the league at their positions, Jamarcus Russell and Cornell Green. Our draft appears to be outstanding as we can claim 3 starters from our first 3 selections.
Statistics also support this prediction. In 2009, on offense we finished 31th overall (29th in passing yards and 21st in rushing yards). On defense, we finished 26th overall (7th in passing yards allowed and 29th in rushing yards allowed.) This preseason, on offense we finished 4th overall (6th in passing yards and 11st in rushing yards). On defense, we finished 8th overall (4th in passing yards allowed and 27th in rushing yards allowed.) Though only preseason, it’s definitely worth noting.
Let’s take a brief look at our competition in the AFC & NFC west. The Bolts have lost many key players, while the Broncos keep trading their good players and drafting bad ones. The chiefs are improving but still a mess. I mention the NFC west because they are the weakest division in the NFL and we get to play them in 2010…that’s at least 8 wins, possibly a sweep between the two western divisions.
Our talent. What a fantastic mix of character, talent, heart and team mindset! Break down every position, including our bench and one must agree that there is some improvement across the board. The young talent (27 players have 3 or less years experience) has one year more experience and games logged; a given improvement.
Our philosophy. Expect to see us playing hybrid defense like never before. We have the interchangeable players and a defense coordinator who knows how to use them. On offense, not only do we get to use a full playbook for the first time since the Gannon years, but as the season progresses, we will be able to add more.
And perhaps the biggest reason, which is not talked about in the media, is our head coach, Tom Cable.
In 2008, he started the year as the offensive line coach, replacing Kiffin midyear. Let’s face it; the season was doomed from the start, but no reflection on Cable. In 2009, his first full year as head coach, he faced challenges that all first year coached face – how to be a head coach, run the day to day structure, complete a staff, player evaluations, trying to do too much and of course trying to win games.
Cable had a few more challenges.
Working with the most hands on owner in league history, Al Davis and an in house coaching debacle was not an easy starting point. In addition, he chose to act as the offensive coordinator. Truth be told, these were Cable’s choices.
These were not; his O line coach jumped ship to join Kiffin, resulting in his taking a step back to coach the O Line. Then the multi talented franchise QB, that could care less about football turned into a “Purple Drankaholic”. In a quarterback driven league, this was a disaster. Lastly, though injuries are part of the game, losing your most explosive offensive talents in DMac and Schilens for most of the year was devastating.
Cable did do some rather amazing things since he took over as interim head coach. He helped rid us of Rob Ryan, who proved last year again that he clearly can’t run a defense. He has remained the Raiders head coach with a 9-19 record longer than anyone since Gruden. He thrives in his relationship with Al, like not since perhaps Madden as evidenced by his benching of Jamarcus and eventual release.
Don’t forget, he helped orchestrate the most incredible offseason in Raiders history in terms of talent acquired. Sure Al gets the credit, but look at the quality of person, needs filled and talent in combination; this is traditionally unheard of in Raider land.
A quality that also gets overlooked is Cables humility. In a league with brash news making head coaches, I.e. Rex Ryan, Shanarat etc., Cable simply works hard, takes input from the brightest owner in NFL history, surrounds I himself with outstanding coaches and learns from his mistakes.
Is there enough evidence to support Raider Domination in 2010? Let me know. Says here, we may just give Belichick the 32nd pick in the 2011 draft!