That, is the $64 question.
The Oakland Raiders, currently in the slump of their franchise-lives, are hoping for some form of consistency to emerge this year.
Tom Cable, who the media picked to be dead, is still kicking. JaMarcus Russell, depending on who you ask, is lighter or heavier by about 30 pounds.
Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, and a cast of second- or third-year players are all hoping that this year's draft will bring the last missing pieces to assemble a squad that can challenge for the AFC West.
How far does the team have to go?
First things first, it all runs around the quarterback. JaMarcus Russell, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye, and now Kyle Boller: All are mentioned from time to time. Bruce recently made news by tearing a pectoral muscle in practice, prompting the team to pick up Kyle. If anything, it is a security blanket, and at worst, he should perform better than Frye did at the end of 2009.
If the Raiders elect to draft another QB, the writing is on the wall for Russell. If the team has to choose between Russell and a rookie QB who is lighting it up on the field, Russell could be traded for a package of Slim Jims.
For the quarterback position to thrive, though, the team needs an offensive line rework. One simple case of a fix was losing Cornell Green to free agency. Green's problem on the line were obvious for the last two seasons. The Raiders could possibly improve on this problem with a replacement of Cooper Carlisle. Robert Gallery, depending on how he bounces back from his injury will be telling. But the line needs to do two major things: Keep the quarterback safe and upright, or open holes for the running backs to do their damage.
The wide receivers have their lessons to learn, but with everything in the team, all factors must be considered. Sure, the passing game was hectic. Passes were dropped, or if the receiver falls down, the pass can be picked off. Darrius Heyward-Bey, an Al Davis project, is still trying to figure out what happened last season. Darrius was thrust into the game, ready or not, and did as expected: suffered big time from questionable passing, poor skills and, of course, butterfingers. The hope is that in the second year he'll progress. I can't imagine what a sophomore slump looks like to this player.
The one constant for this team, is the tight end. Zach Miller simply holds up the tradition of great tight ends the fans have grown accustomed to seeing. As it is, he serves as a good blocker, or more often than not, a relief valve for the quarterback, being found open on a blitz package.
On to the defense...and you know it, the Raiders have to draft someone, or several players, to stop the run. This is simple, logical, and has been needed for about seven seasons. Tackling five yards back isn't tackling...it's a losing effort. Kirk Morrison can only do so much, if he is manhandled at the line, held without a call, and finally breaks free to tackle a person from behind. As this happens, a lot will be discovered if Kamerion Wimbley can be able to help the line, or if it is simply too little help on too big of a problem.
Our cornerback situation is good. Granted, Chris Johnson has his hands full since no one wants to try Nmandi Asomugha, but at the same time, learning on the job from the best has to help. Last year's biggest surprise was the improvement dished out by Michael Huff, who picked off three passes. Along with Tyvon Branch and Hiram Eugene, plus second-year Mike Mitchell, the secondary has to look good for the fans.
And of course, forget about the kicking game and the punting game. Shane Lechler continues to sub for NASA, and Sebastian Janikowski is going to start practicing at midfield...and go back.
So, how do the Raiders look for 2010?
If we patch up the holes involved above, stealing both against Denver, Kansas City, and one from the Chargers, we could be at 9-7 and break our losing streak.
Al Davis, do the right thing: Help this team get the players we need to succeed.