The next team up on our Gridiron Blitz is the Oakland Raiders
Music to listen to: 2 Legit 2 Quit by MC Hammer
The first-ever album I ever bought with my own money was 2 Legit 2 Quit by MC Hammer. This music choice was easy!
Current State: 12,11,12,14,12,11,11. Those are the number of losses that the Raiders have had in each of the past seven seasons dating back to 2003.
Not to sound like your father or old uncle but this was once a proud franchise. There was a time when the Raiders could be penciled in as a contender for a division title, to at least have a winning record. Now, if this current edition gets six wins this year, it would be considered progress.
Any discussion of the Raiders has to start with owner Al Davis, an individual who may be the most identifiable member of his front office more than any other team in the NFL outside of Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and maybe in all of professional sports.
Davis has reached an advanced age when most of his contemporaries would have relinquished control of player management. Instead, he has continued to act as the de facto general manager of the team, including the hiring of head coaches which has been an unsuccessful venture since the release of Jon Gruden earlier this past decade.
The draft picks of the past five to six years have been bad and the Raiders are now paying for it dearly. However, this past offseason has been quiet by Raider standards and the organization has even added a potentially above-average quarterback. Maybe things are getting better in Oaktown.
Biggest Offseason Change: While I described the offseason as quiet, the Raiders have actually made solid moves since the start of this calendar year.
The organization did retain Tom Cable as head coach, which I wasn’t a fan of, but I’ll save that for later in the post.
First, the Raiders retained defensive lineman Richard Seymour. The price may have been a little steep but it was a good step to sign a proven veteran who has already been in the organization.
Than Oakland had one of the best drafts in the entire NFL with the addition of talents such as linebacker Rolando McClain, offensive linemen Bruce Campbell and Jared Veldheer along with wideout Jacoby Ford. The Raiders acted like an organization that did its homework and didn’t pick players beyond where they should have been like in the past.
Finally, the Raiders actually made a legit attempt to land quarterback Donovan McNabb before settling on former Washington Redskins QB Jason Campbell. While we won’t have to find out what suit jacket size Campbell wears for his Hall of Fame induction in the future, he is a welcomed departure from former starting QB JaMarcus Russell, arguably the biggest draft “bust” in NFL history.
For most well run NFL organizations, this would have been a normal eight month period. However, for the Raiders, this may be the best one that they’ve had in over a decade.
Uniform Grade: I’ve always liked the Raiders uniforms. Similar to the Chiefs, there have been minimal changes because when you come upon aesthetically pleasing colors like silver and black, why mess with it. Grade: B+
Best Player: Having your cornerback be the best player on your team is a mixed bag. The good part of it is that you can easily scheme against offenses in a league that has increased the usage of the pass over the past few years. The elite cornerback allows you to not worry about one side of the field.
The bad part is that if your cornerback is doing his job, you won’t see as much of his impact as a quarterback, running back, offensive and defensive lineman, linebacker or even a safety, the preferred positions of having an elite player.
Nnamdi Asomugha may be the best cornerback in the NFL the fact that he is definitely the top player on the Raiders hasn’t translated to the success the team has hoped for.
Most Important Player: If actual games were replaced with physical skills or combine tests, the Raiders have a roster that may actually reach .500. Obviously this isn’t the case and that’s why candidates for this category like running back Darren McFadden are out.
The most important player for the success of the Raiders this year is Campbell, who was under trained during his time in Washington. He played with up to ten different systems during his four year career. To compare, Peyton Manning , Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers have played with the same system in some form their entire career. Brett Farve and Drew Brees have used the same system the majority of their careers.
Campbell still makes mistakes that a pro at his level and experience shouldn’t but he hasn’t had the chance to grow like his contemporaries. Hopefully this will be the place he can establish consistency in his career.
Best Case: Campbell finds some good moment in Oakland. The rest of the high draft picks finally mature and develop into comparable pros. Six wins.
Worst Case: The past eight months were an exception to the chaos of the organization and things return to its unfortunate normal for fans of the team. Three wins
Coaching: Despite all of the changes to the organization mentioned earlier, the one that many thought was most likely to happen, the release of head coach Tom Cable, didn’t happen. In fact, Davis has allowed Cable to coach out the final year of his contract without an extension. There was uncertainty that Cable would even return to the Raiders as late as February of 2010.
The problem is that Cable has shown a lack of control on and off the field. He has been in physical altercations with his own coaching staff and has been accused of being involved in physical abuse with women off the field.
Despite all of this, he has been retained. Davis may have kept him on staff to avoid paying another head coach or just to keep some form of continuity. Either way, the coaching situation is unsettled.
Davis may fire Cable before the start of the season or sign him to an extension during the bye week and it wouldn‘t be surprising. No one knows what’s going to happen.
First memory of team: Bo Jackson. That is all.
Schedule: The Raiders will have to deal with Denver, Kansas City and San Diego in the division.
The home games are against St. Louis, Houston, Seattle, Miami and Indianapolis. The away games are at Tennessee, Arizona, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville.
City Nicknames: There are some good choices. Oaktown, Oaksterdam, The Town and The Bay are my favorites
Fantasy Focus: Zach Miller would be a nice tight end selection for your team.
Overall Outlook: The Raiders are a work in progress but things are looking up for the team. They have a favorable schedule with winnable contests. They aren’t going to have a winning record and probably have double-digit losses again but won’t be the embarrassment they have been the past few seasons.
Final Record: 5-11
Gridiron Blitz 2010 Season Previews: