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Monday, June 10, 2013

Oakland Raiders 2013-2014 season preview

Almost as worthless as mock drafts are (draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. got only one draft pick right this year), spring and summer NFL season previews aren’t far behind.  As with mock drafts though, we need and love them even though they may not mean as much as we’d like.  Here is my preview for the upcoming 2013-14 NFL season for the Oakland Raiders


       Quarterback
The top three quarterbacks for the Raiders have a total of 3 NFL starts.  The Raiders will rely on Matt Flynn who has two of those starts.  Flynn was beaten out at Seattle last year by Wisconsin rookie Russell Wilson.  It still remains to be seen though if Flynn is a starting NFL QB.  Terrelle Pryor will back him up with rookie Tyler Wilson bringing up the rear.
Grade:  D+  
With no proven starting NFL QB, this is a huge question mark.  If Flynn isn’t the answer, the Raiders are in trouble.

       Running back
Darren McFadden is a really good running back when healthy.  The problem is he’s never played more than 13 games in a season.  For a team that has unproven QB’s and WR corerunning the ball is going to be difficult.  The Raiders struggled to score at times last year and had issues running the ball.  Teams will almost dare the Raiders to pass and the RB’s could find rushing yards hard to find.  Rashad Jennings was signed but he’s mostly a backup who has had his own injury issues.  Marcel Reese is only 27 and is a stud at FB and needs to be utilized more in the offense.
        Grade:  B  
McFadden and Reese are a nice duo, but after that it’s hard to get excited about Jennings.  Sixth round pick Latavius Murray was a steal.  Not many teams knew much about him but he’s big, has great hands and is a north south runner.  The Central Florida star has already turned heads and will see some carries as well.  

      Wide receiver
Denarius Moore is solid having a good second half of the season last year.  Jacoby Ford has shed the walking boot but supposedly now has tweaked his hamstring which may or may not be a problem.  When he’s on the field he’s a nice big play option but the last two years, he hasn’t been able to stay on the field.  Darrius Heyward-Bey was never going to be a great WR and was a terrible draft choice and it’s addition by subtraction when he was not resigned.  Rod Streater is a nice number 3 option.
       Grade:  C  
The Raiders top 3 WR have to stay healthy for them to be effective.  

      Tight end
The Raiders have serious issues here.  With leading receiver Brandon Myers signing with  the Giants, David Ausberry and Richard Gordon are the top tight end on the depth chart.  Combined they have 12 total catches in their careers.  Nick Kasa out of Colorado is a good blocker, but he has had only one good year catching the ball and this was last year with 25 catches.  
Grade:  D +  
Nick Kasa will get a chance to start if he shines but in the passing game, this may be the worst TE core in the NFL.  

Offensive line
The offensive line quietly didn’t have a bad season only allowing 27 sacks. Unfortunately they were only 28th in rushing offense and struggled to run the ball at times.  Hopefully the Raiders can shore up the right tackle position and control the line of scrimmage more often.  Second round pick Menelik Watson is a physical specimen who has a strong work ethic.  He’s raw but has a lot of potential to possibly fill the tackle position.  
       Grade:  B
may be generous in this grade but I think the Raiders offensive line can be a good one especially if Watson can learn quickly.  

      Defensive line
The Raiders defensive line was abysmal at times last year ranking 31st in sacks with only 25.  With Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour Desmond Bryant not being resigned, it’s going to be addition by subtraction.  They didn’t do the job last year and the Raiders needed to move on.  Lamarr Houston is the key returnee but the Raiders lack DL talent.
       Grade:  D
This has to be a huge focus in next years draft and sacks will be very hard to come by this year.  With no pass rush the secondary will be in trouble.  The Raiders will have to rely on the blitz a lot this year.  

Linebacker
Raider fans will love third round draft pick Sio Moore.  For his draft party, he told all of his friends and family to wear black hoping that the Raiders would pick him.  Now that’s a Raider!  At Connecticut, he played both the outside and inside LB positions.  He’s an explosive playmaker and a good character guy who is a hard worker and a good leader.  He played his best in the big games.  Miles Burris did a nice job as a rookie and should be solid.  Gone is the troubled Rolando McClain. The Raiders also had nice additions signing Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett.  

Grade:  B
I really like this group.  For now they are the strength of the defense.  If the Raiders can shore up their DL in the near futureand Burris and Moore can mature, you might have a really nice defensive front seven that can rush the passer, and stop the run.

Secondary
Charles Woodsen is back for his swan song.  Green Bay made him into a safety which Charles Woodsen was made to play.  A tough tackler and ball hawk who should teach the DB’s well.  D.J. Hayden has good hands and is another ball hawk and time will tell if he is the real deal.  He played on a Houston team in a bad conference that gave up a lot of passing yards before his life threatening injury.  I still think it wasn’t a good pick especially with so many DL issues.  Mike Jenkins, Tracy Porter and Usama Young were signed and if they can stay healthy, should help with the depth of this unit.  Unless the pass rush improves though, this group is going to have a long year.
       Grade:  C
Porter has a history of seizures that has kept him off the field at times.  He had a severe concussion that also limited his time last year.  Mike Jenkins play declined the last 2 years and he was phased out in Dallas.  Hayden had recent surgery to rid him of scar tissue that was causing him a lot of pain.  Lot’s of question marks in the secondary talent wise, and health wise.

       Special teams
Sebastian Janikowski will be solid at kicker, but Shane Lechler is gone.  Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe was signed.  He is famous for being outspoken on social issues and for last year covering the hall of fame patch on his jersey and putting “Vote Ray Guy” over it.  He was fined for that by the league.  Josh Cribbs won’t help much at WR but he brings an exciting element to the special teams.  
       Grade:  B
       The Raiders should have a fairly solid group on special teams.

Coaching Staff:
Unfortunately I think Dennis Allen is on the hot seat.  Already there are grumblings from the local media that Mark Davis doesn’t want another bad season, and another bad season seems likely.  Having Greg Knapp at offensive coordinator last year was one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen in years and many were puzzled by it.  It remains to be seen if Greg Olson is the answer at OC but Jason Tarver at defensive coordinator seems to be on the right track.  Hiring Bob Saunders at linebacker coach was a good move.  
       Grade:  C+
Unfortunately with the 4 firings of the coaching staff, you hope that patience will prevail.  I’d give this staff 2 more years as it is now, but Mark Davis may not be as giving.  

Prediction:
There are few fan bases in sports who are as much fun and who are as passionate as Raider fans are.  The fan base has changed a lot though with all of the losing.  Old school fans almost cringe at the low level of expectations, and some young fans support any and every signing and draft pick as a good one predicting greatness and winning in the near future.  Unfortunately they andAl Davis in the past 10 years have been wrong most of the time.  The extreme denial over how bad the Raiders drafts really wereand how little talent they had has ended with Reggie McKenzie.  For the Raiders sake it’s good that Reggie McKenzie isn’t in denial and he has rid the Raiders of those players.  

McKenzie is trying to get the standards back to a high level and bring about responsibility to this losing franchise.  The salary cap killed the Raiders so there was much work to do and he got it done.  This is probably going to be another long year in Raider land but unlike the last 12 years, there is actually hope.  The Raiders goals for the immediate future are to find out if Flynn is a starting QB, and if McFadden is in their long term plans.  Next year defensive line help is a must do, and if Jacoby Ford can’t stay on the field, they need to go in a different direction.    

Predicted Record:
Last years’ prediction 6-10; actual record 4-12
2013-14 prediction: 4-12

I feel this might be the least talented Raider team in a very long time.  There are so many question marks that even the most positive of Raider fans will be hard pressed to think this is a good team.  Some are saying it’s the least talented team in the NFL and they might be right.  Cleaning house though was exactly what was needed.  The Raiders are on the right track and I think if Flynn will be the answer at QB and with 2 more solid drafts, this team will be good again.  I hope Mark Davis has the patience that Al Davis didn’t.  The magical glory days in Oakland and the dominant winning ways of the Raiders will never be seen again, but hopefully at least a competitive team will.  These great fans deserve nothing less.  

By
Jim Jax

14 comments:

  1. 4-12? whatever!

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  2. being a long time raider fan, I tend to agree with most of your statements, however do believe the DL is much improved. overall I think the D line linebackers/secondary look somewhat solid. As long as the offense can stay on the field and give the D line normal playing time they should be ok. The other thing I dont understand is why dont think they can never get back to the way we used to dominate. Its a great franchise and now that its run like so (not that I didnt love Al) I think you will see a turnaround......who wouldnt want to play for the Ultimate football franchise. Remember "the autumn wind is a RAIDER" BABY!!

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  3. The linebackers and secondary are much improved this year over last. I do agree that the DLine is an unknown as is the health of McFadden. TE is also an unknown. There is all kinds of hope in Oakland though with 4 QBs that are fresh on the scene. Flynn, Wilson, whatever his name is from Penn St. and Pryor. One of these guys should be able to step up. Worst team in the league? I don't see that but we'll see. I like what Reggie is doing and I'm very hopeful.

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  4. So Jim what your saying is that the Raiders will not be improved over last year . You have to be kidding me do you even know anything about football. Reggie did have to trim fat off the roster and did so by replacing them with some quality people that will not give up on each other. No more bad attitudes that bring down a team, the worst being Rolando Mclain , My point is this although Im not sure if the Raiders will make the playoffs this year I do believe that they are heading in the right direction and will have a 7-9 record at worst. Reggie is doing all the right things that will pay dividends in the years to come. RAIDER NATION we are on our way, be patient 7-9 this year, next year 10-6 and back to the bowl in three years

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  5. I agree with your perspective with the only exception being their predicted record. I think they might actually finish in the 6-8 win range this year. The team is hungry, with players that have a point to prove. Also, like most other teams/fans, they don't have a favorable outlook for this team this season. That mentality alone could easily help the Raiders sneak in a win or two. Any given Sunday might be a mantra for this team this year

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  6. Another F&@king idiot with minimal Football knowledge hating on the Raiders!!!

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  7. How do you look at the roster and OC change and expect them to get worse...?

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  8. Your comment on how the Raiders have the least talent than they have had in a long time is ridiculous because even if that is true talent alone will never win championships. Heart, character ,chemistry and a will to win is most important .You look at a team in baseball like the Yankees with a high pay role and tons of talent, then you look at a team like the Athletics low pay role and not as impressive on paper but with a chemistry that more than makes up for the lack of talent. Im not saying that the Raiders will even make the playoffs but your prediction of 4-12 is a joke and truly makes me question your qualifications to make such predictions.

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  9. 4-12? THAT DOES NOT ONLY MAKE THIS ENTIRE ARTICLE SEEM FOOLISH BUT IT DOWN GRADES THE TALENT WE HAVE ADDED TO OUR ROSTER: JOSH CRIBBS, TRACEY PORTER, CHARLES WOODSON, AND EVEN DARREN MCFADDEN? TWO PLAYERS WHO HAVE VALUABLE PLAYOFF/SUPERBOWL EXPERIENCE, WE MIGHT NOT HAVE SIGNED TOP 10 DRAFT PICKS BUT WHERE HAS THAT GOTTEN US IN THE LAST COUPLE YEARS? MCCLAIN,RUSSEL, HEYWARD BEY? ALL BUSTS! WHEN WE RETURN TO RAIDER FOOTBALL AND DRAFT PLAYERS WITH TOUGHNESS AND HEART WHO PLAY FOOTBALL WITH PRIDE AND NOT ALL FOR THE MONEY, THATS WHEN PEOPLE LIKE YOU COME OUT AND DISH A PLATE OF NEGATIVITY. BUT TO HARP ON A PREVIOUS COMMENT, 7-9 IN 2013 AT WORST, AND WITHIN 3 YEARS THE RAIDERS WILL RECLAIM SOME GLORY. JUST WIN BABY WIN! --DAVID M--

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  10. Raider fans don't listen to half of these bone heads that publish this nonsense, it's just reading material. His prediction last year of 6-10 could haven't been. Who would of predicted them to be 4-12 after an 8-8 season, I sure didn't. There are a lot of good things happening and I see the Raiders surprising so many teams. This is my prediction 9-7 or 10-6 competing against the Steelers or Patriots for the AFC Championship!!! Go Raiders!!!

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  11. Thanks for all your comments; they are much appreciated.

    Yes I did predict 6-10 last year because the Raiders played a soft schedule the year before and last year was a much tougher schedule.

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  12. The Raiders offense will be worse due to the lack of a starting QB. Palmer wasn't great but he was average. Flynn may not even be a starter.

    I disagree with the DL; it was terrible last year and should be worse off this year with less talent.

    My family has had tickets since the Raiders began and before I was born so I'm a huge Raider fan but I also am not a lemming. I call it as I see it.

    The Raiders haven't had a winning season in 10 years. Every year the same people rip on negative reviews of the team and for the past 10 years those people have been wrong in predicting success.

    If I'm wrong throughout the season I'll be more than happey to admit it and will be glad for the Raiders success. Thanks again for your comments and passion. JJ

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  13. I agree, without a seasoned QB who has thrown 100's of passes to a regular receiver, it will be a long season. You can't win games without time in the trenches, and our trenches got a lot of muddy water!

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  14. Folks as a Raider fan, I find myself having to agree with the gentleman. I feel your pain especially after being a fan since 1971. His win loss prediction was based on not only what the Raiders have done but also what the other teams have done in the AFC West.

    Here are the facts: Denver has an all around super bowl caliber team at every position and with a hungry Hall A Fame QB leading them. KC had a fluke last year along with some key injuries. Now they have improved both at the Coaching position and at QB. Last year they were predicted to win the AFC West. They have a lot of young talent. They will be a competitive ball team. San Diego well as long as they have Phillip River they will be tough. It's a QB league. Hell I'm just happy the Seattle Sea Hawks are no longer in the division.

    Were two years away from being a championship competitive ball club. I HATE IT, but its the truth.

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