Oakland Raiders Resurgence: 10 Players Who Have Led Oakland Out of a Black Hole
The Raiders matter again. People are talking about the Raiders, and this is a great thing for the NFL, the Raider Nation and Al Davis.
ESPN, CBS Sports, Yahoo and other sports websites are talking about them and their rise to relevance. One writer went as far as calling Oakland the new "America's Team."
While the Raiders are only 5-4, and a long ways away from the playoffs, they are back and people can't help but talk about them.
The organization has change, the attitude has changed. It took all the owners, the coaches, the players and all of the fans to make this change.
Let's take a look at ten players who have helped the Raiders become the talk of the league.
Perhaps no other player on the team has had a bigger impact than Richard Seymour. He is more than validating the trade Al Davis made to get him to Oakland.
The Raiders gave up a first round pick for Seymour. The Raiders haven't had too much luck the past ten years with first round picks, and they don't need to count on luck with Seymour.
He is a proven player and he is a championship caliber player.
Only four defensive tackles in the league have more sacks than Seymour, and his name is called during crucial moments in the game.
Perhaps the biggest impact he has made is bringing in that championship swagger and being an example to all of the young players on the defensive side of the ball.
You can't underestimate what bringing a leader in that knows nothing else but winning and preparing like a winner.
You saw Seymour roll in with the rookies during the offseason. This man is one of the reasons the Raiders matter again.
Darren McFadden is the fourth leading rusher in the league this season so far. He is on pace to eclipse over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.
Hey may already be over 1,000 yards had he not missed two game with injury.
McFadden mentioned he is taking care of his body more and eating better than he has in recent years.
Whatever he is doing is working. He has 757 yards rushing and 242 yards receiving. He has six total touchdowns and he is running with a purpose.
He is delivering the hits to the defensive players as opposed to him being hit. He is becoming a bully, just as Hue Jackson said he was going to do with his offense.
If McFadden continues to play the way he is, it will be hard to keep him out of the Pro Bowl this season.
Tommy Kelly shed 35 pounds during the offseason. His hard work during the offseason has paid off.
While teammate Richard Seymour is 5th amond defensive tackles in sacks, Kelly is 2nd.
His aggressive play along side Seymour's is making the Raiders defensive line one of the best in the league.
He seems to get better every week. With 33 tackles and plenty of plays where he helps get the players around him free, Kelly could also be headed to the Pro Bowl.
Zach Miller is one of the Raiders young players that has helped the Raiders offense move the ball down field.
It didn't matter who was the quarterback for Oakland. You knew he was going to be the most reliable option on pass plays.
Despite teams trying to key on him, he is still putting up solid numbers. He has 34 catches for 461 yards and four touchdowns so far for the Raiders.
He has led the Raiders in receptions and receiving yards since 2008, and is on pace to do it again this year.
Tyvon Branch is doing it all for the Raiders defense this year. He is making plays and comes up big when the Raiders need it most.
His 59 tackles lead the team. He also has two sacks, two recovered fumbles one of which he ran for a big touchdown against the Chargers. He also has one interception as well.
He is also one of the fastest players I've ever seen on the field.
When he recovered the fumble against the Chargers nobody had a chance to catch him. He made the speedy Darren Sproles look like he was running in slow motion.
Branch is another one of the Al Davis draft picks that is making a big impact for the Raiders.
Let's be real for a second. There is no quarterback controversy in Oakland. There is only one starter who has won a game that he has started. Actually make it three games that he has started.
Sure Bruce Gradkowski came in and won a game against the Rams, but the Raiders were never in trouble during that game and Campbell could of stayed and won it as well.
Campbell did make up for the Rams game by coming in late against the Chargers in the second half and playing an impressive game.
We all have to remember that the Raiders offense is still a work in progress. The offensive line still has issues with pass protection, and the receivers are still dropping balls.
Sure Campbell has missed some throws, but who wouldn't under pressure?
What can't be denied Campbell's hot hand and the way the offense has responded to him as a starter. It's amazing that some people think it's not Campbell but the players around him that are playing better.
Um . . . duh. Players are supposed to want to play better and make plays for the quarterback. The longer Campbell is under center, the better the Raiders offense will be.
Once the Raiders start getting healthier on offense, Campbell should start putting up better numbers. In the last three weeks under Campbell, we've seen Oakland do things that they haven't done in seven years or have never done at all.
The Raiders may have found their quarterback.
When I look at Matt Shaughnessy I see a Richard Seymour like player. Seymour recorded 3 sacks in his first year and 5.5 in his second year. He just kept getting better.
Shaughnessy recorded 4 sacks in his rookie year last year, and has recorded 5 this year so far.
If you watch him on film he is a monster. He rotates in and out the game because the Raiders have a great rotation and defensive end.
His high motor and savvy play style make him one of the young draft picks the Raiders should be very excited about.
Look for him to get better as the season continues, and look for him to become a solid pro as his career continues.
Michael Bush is the perfect partner for Darren McFadden in the backfield. McFadden will punish the defense with his hard running style and speed. Bush punished the defense even more with his hard running and size.
He is a great compliment to have and he stepped in and played well when McFadden was out with injury.
Bush has four rushing touchdowns which ties him for the team lead with McFadden. As the season progresses he will be key to the Raiders running game.
It is important for him to get his touches, because the Raiders need both backs to be fresh and healthy as the Raiders prepare for a tough stretch of games that could lead them to the playoffs.
Kamerion Wimbley was brought in from the Browns during the off season. The Raiders needed to find a way to get pressure to the quarterback.
Wimbley has not only gotten to the quarterback himself, but he has allowed other players to get there as well.
Teams have to watch for Wimbley. He has 4.5 sacks and is one of the main reasons the Raiders second in the league in sacks, only one behind the Green Bay Packers.
The Raiders defensive has shown it can play tough when the offense helps them, and Wimbley is one of the reasons for the Raiders turn around.
Nnamdi Asomugha is the best cornerback in the NFL. There is no debate about it. I don't about a Revis Island or if someone has Champ in their name.
It's easy to get interceptions when people throw your way. A shut down corner does just that. Shuts down a hole side.
Asomugha gets thrown to an average of 2 times per game if he is lucky.
There were plenty of plays against the Chiefs that wouldn't have happened if Asomugha was on the field.
People say the Raiders were lucky to win that game, I say the Chiefs were lucky Asomugha was out. The game "Catch Phrase" had to change it's name to "Phrase" because nobody is catching anything on Asomugha.
Having a player like him is very valuable, and this bye week couldn't of came at a better time.
This list could of been 53 slides long. Here are some other players who have made an impact.
Marcel Reece - Line him up anywhere and he can make a play.
Darrius Heyward-Bey - Believe it or not, he is one of the reasons other guys get open. Watch the film. Teams respect his speed.
Louis Murphy - Leads all receivers in yards and catches
Michael Huff - Should have been on this list. Having a great season.
Mike Mitchell - He's making plays on defense. Tipped balls, forced fumbles, pressuring the QB.
Offensive Line: You can't have a top running attack without the big guys
The Rookies: Rolando McClain, Lamarr Houston, Jared Veldheer, Jacoby Ford, and even Jeremy Ware are getting into the act.
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