Behind enemy lines: Oakland Raiders


Jun 9, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) with fullbacks Marcel Reece (45) and Jamize Olawale (49) and running back Latavius Murray (28) at minicamp at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Saturday, folks, and thanks for joining me as I embark on a new series that will check up on what’s been going on with our AFC West opponents this off-season.

The Raiders have been busy. Heading into this offseason the team was $59 million under the cap so they were destined to make some moves. The front office has changed for the better the past few years resulting in back-to-back strong drafts and a general manager that seems to have an understanding on how to keep the team cap under control. Let’s take a look at some of the moves they made and what this means for the AFC West.

What they did in free agency:

  • Signed free agent linebacker Curtis Lofton from the Saints
  • Signed free agent defensive tackle Dan Williams from the Cardinals
  • Signed free agent center Rodney Hudson  from the Chiefs
  • Signed free agent tight end Lee Smith from the Bills
  • Signed free agent safety Nate Allen from the Eagles
  • Signed free agent wide receiver Michael Crabtree from the 49ers (after passing on him in the 2009 draft)

There’s a couple good names here. The Raiders were ranked 22nd against the run last year, Dan Williams will fix that. Williams is a proven run-stuffer that will be considered the “center piece” of this defense.  Rodney Hudson who obviously we’re familiar with will improve an unproductive offensive line that was linked to the woeful struggles the team had running the ball (ranked last in 2014). The other players could contribute in different ways but wouldn’t expect them to impact the same way these two would.

Who they drafted in 2015:

Prior to the draft, the Raiders made sure they brought in some talent to upgrade their team’s lack of overall talent. In 2014, this team was the second-worst in scoring and allowed the most points in the league. After this draft the Raiders further upgraded their talent and ability to compete this coming 2015 season. The front office hasn’t been perfect but have been consistently doing things better after the passing of Al Davis.

The Raiders are getting better. Just let that settle in for a second. It’s hard to believe that a franchise that’s only managed to win a total of 52 games over the last 1o years could get better. That’s an average of winning just above five games a season for 10 years… Bob Fescoe would have ranted until his vocal chords burst into a thousand pieces.

One of the reasons Raiders fans should be optimistic about their future is Jack Del Rio has come to town and although he didn’t have tremendous success there are statistics that say that coaches who get a second or third shot generally have some more success. To add another positive to this hiring, Del Rio is a Bay Area native that grew up going to Raider games which makes it seem like a perfect fit. Then add to the equation they have a young quarterback that’s showed some potential to possibly give the Raiders some stability at quarterback for the first time in ages (Rich Gannon).

Last year, Carr really had no weapons to work with and that’s why you saw the team end up being the lowest scoring team in the league. The team recognized this and drafted Cooper. Cooper was brought to Oakland to help resurrect a struggling offense that hasn’t had 1,000-yard wide receiver since 2005 with Randy Moss.

There are reasons why Oakland fans should be more hopeful than the last several years but this is going to be a marathon and not a sprint to build this team back up into a winner. There’s still several holes in the secondary and other areas. Let’s take a look at the schedule and try to evaluate how this team will fare.

Raiders Schedule:

  • Bengals
  • Ravens
  • @Browns
  • @Bears
  • Broncos
  • @Chargers
  • Jets
  • @Steelers
  • Vikings
  • @Lions
  • @Titans
  • Chiefs
  • @Broncos
  • Packers
  • Chargers
  • @Chiefs

It’s possible the team could win seven or eight games this year but a lot of this team’s potential success lies on the shoulders of Carr. He threw 3,200 yards without a top wide receiver so one would be apt to believe he will fare better with having a target like Cooper to throw to. Will the team take another step forward? What do you think, Addicts?