NFL Week 1: Can The Oakland Raiders Walk The Walk?
The draft is over, training camp is complete, and all the preseason games have been played.
The roster, barring one or maybe two last-minute additions or subtractions is set. The coaching staff have drilled their plans and schemes into the players during the off-season.
There is little else left to do apart from prepare for the Tennessee Titans, because Week One of the 2010 season is actually here.
The Raiders are widely believed to be one of the most improved teams this year. After dumping last year's starting quarterback JaMarcus Russell, and making some smart moves on the trade front. They also drafted nine players, all of whom are still employed at the time of writing.
Now after all of the above, and the much talked about the positive atmosphere and new mind set in Oakland under Tom Cable, it is time to play football. All the positive talking and good reviews in the world won't mean a thing if the Raiders can't produce quality football on the field.
So can the the Oakland Raiders walk the walk?
The revamped Raiders run defense will get a big test on Sunday in Tennessee against Chris Johnson and the NFL's No. 1 run offense.
Can Lamarr Houston, Kamerion Wimbley, and Rolando McClain make a difference?
Whether or not they shut Johnson down entirely, they need to show that they are considerably better than last's year's defense and limit him at the very least. To do that they need to do the two things that have eluded Raider defenses over the past seven years.
They need the defensive line to win the battle in the trenches, and the linebackers and the secondary to wrap up and tackle better when in counts.
If they can't do those things, it's going to be a long day for the Raider defense.
It will be important to put in a good performance on Sunday to keep that positive mind set going. After so many years of defeat that mindset is fragile. Week One can set the tone for an entire season.
I remember crushing losses on Opening Day in previous years kept the fans away all season long from home games, and left players doubting themselves and the team.
Tennessee will be a good yardstick for this Raider team to measure themselves by, and not just in the running game. The Titans are well coached team in all phases under Jeff Fisher, and have been competitive at the utmost every year he has coached there.
So this is it, the pressure is on, and the time is here.
Can the Oakland Raiders walk the walk?
We will find out on Sunday.
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