Monday, August 20, 2012

32 in 32: Oakland Raiders

Oakland Raiders
Read the introduction here
Read the Jets preview here
San Diego Chargers tomorrow

2011 Record: 8-8

Key Acquisitions: Ronald Bartell, Tony Bergstrom, Mike Goodson, Patrick Lee, Owen Schmitt, Shawntae Spencer, Dave Tollefson
Key Departures: Kevin Boss, Michael Bush, Bruce Campbell, Quentin Groves, John Henderson, Chris Johnson, Jarvis Moss, Stanford Routt, Lito Sheppard

The Raiders. Oh the Raiders. Talk about a revolving door of coaches. Nobody has been able to establish a culture or a system with this team over the past decade. Lack of continuity continues with Dennis Allen taking over the team. This comes after Hue Jackson helped to fix this offense, but that doesn't count because it's the Raiders. Carson Palmer was not very good last year. Darren McFadden isn't ever healthy. The offense looks very bad on paper. The defense doesn't look great either. If this isn't bad enough, their division is in for a big year. Peyton Manning is now in their division. That's an automatic two losses. Peyton Manning.

Carson Palmer is average. He hasn't been very good since his injury problems started to arise. He was absolutely terrible last year, but that was because he missed all of camp and the beginning of the season due to his "holdout" (if you would call it that).

McFadden is really good. Unfortunately for the city of Oakland, he's also really hurt all the time. I was reading in Sports Illustrated, that if he played 16 games each of the past 3 years, he would have ranked no lower than third in the league (projections based on his yardage in the games that he did play). Now they've lost Michael Bush, who is a starter on most teams (the Bears bid the most for him as some sort of strategy to guilt Matt Forte into signing a contract). No, I would not trust Mike Goodson to carry the load when Darren gets hurt.

This wide receiving group is three deep. The three aren't stars either. Being that they are on the Raiders, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, and Denarius Moore are fast. None of them are great at route running or simply catching the football. Moore may be the exception though. He should be the #1 receiver after his surprisingly stellar performance last year.

Khalif Barnes is very bad at pass blocking, but he's an exceptional run blocker. For a team that is expected to run the ball a lot anyway, he's very good to have. Stefen Wisniewski had a very good year last yea, earning All-Rookie Team honors. Jared Veldheer is a very good young tackle. He's well on his way to Pro Bowl level.

The defensive line looks very solid. They have two monsters in the middle in Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour. Seymour is getting up there in age and I'm not sure if he's going to have the same production that has been expected of him throughout his career. I have to problems with Lamarr Houston, Desmond Bryant, Dave Tollefson, nor Matt Shaughnessy. None of them are amazing, but they're not going to be terrible. Houston did show the ability to pressure the quarterback last year. The same can be said with Tollefson.

The risk factor with the rest of the defense is scary. Rolando McClain is the only reliable guy in this group, and he might miss some time due to a possible suspension. Draft bust Aaron Curry has to be a starter on this team, and even after he was traded to the Raiders, was not very good. When McClain is out, the burden will be on a fourth round pick, Miles Burris. This will probably be a completely disastrous unit.

Safties Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch are very good, but this team will be very vulnerable to the big play down the sidelines. It seems as if they don't care to keep their good players, allowing both Nnamdi Asomugha and Stanford Routt to walk in each of the past two offseasons. Ronald Bartell and Shawntae Spencer will have to step in and man the corners, something that neither of them are great at.

Special Teams
The best special teams unit in the NFL. Sebastian Janikowski is such a great kicker. Sea Bass has the most powerful leg that I have seen on a kicker. Not only is his leg powerful, it's pretty accurate. He makes seemingly impossible field goals with ease. Shane Lechler is a real master at pinning his opponents deep inside their own territory. He's one of the best punters of all time. Yeah, I said it, he's a great punter. Amazing punter. Punter. I should rank the best punters of all time. Lechler would be near the top of the list. Jacoby Ford is a really good punt returner with elite speed. He had some big returns last year.

4-12, 4th in AFC West

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