Since this is OTA time, a lot of looks will be seen by both the media and the fans. The media would love to find things wrong, while the fans would love to find things right.
Both of these groups are not exclusive, as some media people would like to see a resurgence in the Raiders...and not just the one or two-win improvements.
But if it is the question that needs to be asked, how can the Raiders improve from a five-win season to an eight-win season?
The first issue is protection for JaMarcus Russell. Quarterbacks thrive on time to develop plays. Which would you rather have, a short three-yard gain or a 20-yard pass? If your receiver or end can't get 10-15 yards downfield before the QB's scrambling, there is a problem.
Likewise—call it 1-A—is having a line that isn't self-destructive.
Last season our offensive line did a number on our own drives, with false starts, holds, and other foolish stunts. This led from easy to convert third downs to making a choice on fourth down of punting or trying a field goal.
Second, and it has been talked off and on, is getting the QB up to speed. Sure, last season was his first full year taking snaps. In his first full 16 games, he's had some good moments and some you'd shake your head at.
Smarter play-calling will help, as well as knowing your receivers better—understanding how each one functions, you'll know which options work best. If Russell proves to falter, and we should know within the first four weeks...Jeff Garcia could find himself in both a good and bad spot. He'll be starting just as the Raiders hit the first series of road challenges.
Third, more effective use of the running game. With all the media attention on Darren McFadden, the hot ticket was to use him early and often. Injuries to him and then Justin Fargas didn't help, and the play selection didn't exactly work either.
In the coming season, hopefully a good rotation can be established...and expect Michael Bush to supplant Fargas on the running chart by end of year.
Fourth—this is the one I wished they would have fixed at the draft—find a run stopper. The basic word out of camp is that we have the players to stop the run but needed the coach. Will this work? We'll find out as soon as preseason starts. But the first real test will come on Monday night when we have to stop LT and company in Oakland.
Lastly—and this one is for Tom Cable himself—no more crazy ideas. Don't try to have Sebastian Janikowski try anything fancy. If you can kill the clock and get it in reasonable range, great. But don't put the opposing team in range for their own field goal. If it's possible, you have some downfield threats.
Looking at the Raiders' schedule, the Raiders will know a lot about the season in the first three games. If they start 0-3, it's time to change some things.
If the Raiders start 2-1...they may make things interesting for the Chargers come December.