New Head Coach, New Season, New Offense
A lot has changed in Oakland Raider Nation.
The massively improved offense fans witnessed in 2010 is sure to be even better and more explosive in 2011 as Jackson will have more control than last year, and new offensive coordinator Al Saunders will attempt to infuse his own ideas to an already successful philosophy.
The most noticeable change will be a move away from the zone blocking scheme brought in by Cable. The Raider offensive line didn't have a lot of experience with the zone scheme, as was evidenced by the anemic numbers put up in 2009.
When Jackson took over the offensive coordinator duties in 2010, the rushing attack became one of the league's most dominant and the Raiders were ranked fourth in points scored. This is due in large part to a return to the power blocking style.
The talent along the offensive line was more suited to this style of play and re-instituting it paid huge dividends in 2010.
The hiring of Al Saunders as offensive coordinator may prove to be a stroke of genius.
Where will the Raiders offense rank in points scored in 2011?
Saunders brings 40 years of coaching experience to the Raiders and has produced some amazing wide receiver play through the years. The Super Bowl XXXIV champion St. Louis Rams' receivers were among the best in the league while Saunders was their position coach.
Saunders should be able to greatly improve the struggling Raiders receiving corps. The talent is there, Saunders only needs to help wide receiver coach Sanjay Lal unleash it.
Another area the Raiders needed to improve upon is up front on the offensive line. Coach Jackson and Mr. Davis have taken steps to address this aspect of the team as well.
Bob Wiley has been brought in to fill the offensive line coach position for the 2011 NFL season. There will also be a familiar face will be on the practice field and in the meeting room with the offensive linemen.
Steve "The Wiz" Wisniewski has been hired as assistant offensive line coach. The eight-time Pro Bowler understands how to play at a high level and more importantly, he knows what it means to be a Raider. Wisniewski will command instant respect from the young talent on the team.
Getting Wisniewski in to mentor the young talent, including his nephew Stefen "The Legacy" Wisnewski and LSU tackle Joseph Barksdale, on the offensive line should have a positive effect on the entire offense.
Which young wide receiver will improve the most under Saunders?
With the upgrade of talent in the aforementioned rookies and the trimming of the "dead weight," especially on the right side, the offensive line should be able to give Jason Campbell much more time to take advantage of the improved wide receiver play.
So, what do all these changes mean to the average fan? How does it affect the product on the field? These are the real questions.
The return to the power blocking scheme, along with an infusion of better, younger talent on the offensive line in 2011, should further improve the rushing attack and open up a more effective vertical play-action passing game Al Davis loves to see.
The hiring of Saunders should drastically improve the wide receiver play that has been missing in Oakland for several years. I expect Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy, a healthy Chaz Schilens and all the Raider receivers to be greatly improved in 2011.
If Jason Campbell can get more comfortable with Jackson and Saunders' philosophies, as he did toward the end of last season, opposing safeties will have to respect the pass and stay out of "the box," giving the running game a big boost, thereby opening up the pass game.
All that's left to complete this offense is for Mr. Davis and the front office to get tight end Zach Miller and bruising halfback Michael Bush re-signed. That would be two more great weapons for opposing defenses to deal with.
It will take time for all the new pieces to fully gel and work together, but if done correctly, it can only result in a more explosive Silver and Black offensive attack in 2011.
What do you think Raider Nation? What do I have right? What did I miss? Speak out in the comments.
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