Oakland Raiders 2011 Preview – Offense/Defense

9 / 6 / 2011

Oakland Raiders 2011 Preview – Offense/Defense

Raiders 2011

OFFENSE

QB (5/10) (neutral)

Jason Campbell is underated, but doesn’t have the upside to be a top-10 QB. He was a huge step up from the Russell nadir, but still doesn’t have a long ball, isn’t mobile and tends to check down a lot. Gradkowski was a solid backup last year and dropping Trent Edwards and keeping Kyle Boller was a headscratcher. Campbell still exceeded expectations last year, but if he goes down, the passing game is done. The passing supporting cast (OL, Receivers) are still bottom 10 in the league so not much upside for any QB they could have brought in. P.S. Pryor isn’t doing anything this year so don’t start chanting for him the second Campbell goes down.

OL (4/10) (+1)

The O-line went from bad to still bad, but at least having some potential. The Raiders have never invested interest in big names on the OL so when they were close to signing Jared Gaither, brows were raised. He even showed up to practice, but somehow didn’t officially make it on the team. Fans should’ve known better. At draft time, at least they picked up Wisniewski and Barksdale, but Wiz will be new to playing Guard as a starter. Not a fan of playing 2nd round players out of position, but at least he will be getting some action now. Hopefully he won’t need a decade to develop like Gallery did. I want to see more progress in physical beast Bruce Campbell who will be backing up at guard. The glaring weakness is still a glaring weakness, but at least the draft picks give them some upside.

RB (9/10) (+1)

Even with the crappy o-line the healthy McFadden showed that breakout season I called for. If he would have played 16 games, he was on pace for being top 5 in rushing. When DMC went down, Bush stepped in and got to bruising. Resigning Bush was a relief even though it was only a 1 year contract. We needed Bush for that goal-line power and adding Taiwan Jones is starting to look like a 3-headed monster. FB Marcel Reese is also underated for his pass-catching skills. Reese has room for improvement in blocking, but having another threat out there for Campbell to throw to will be an asset and his speed is deceiving and YAC is pretty crazy for a FB.

TE (7/10) (-1)

I loved Zach Miller ever since we drafted him and he surpassed my already high expectations in his stay in the silver and black. It’s a shame that the Seahawks pried him away from us, but after seeing how much they paid, I wasn’t as disappointed. He got paid Antonio Gates money and he is no Gates. Raider fans hate Gates, but still draft him for fantasy league. That’s how good he is. Kevin Boss is a slight downgrade. Yes, slight. I’d rather have Miller if you don’t look at the money, but honestly I think Boss at 4 million a year is more value than Miller at 7 million a year. Boss is even more of a beast at the goal line than Miller and the name Boss on the back of a silver and black uniform is straight BOSS.

WR (5/10) (+1)

I’ve been subtly surprised by the late blooming of Jacoby Ford last year and the drafting of Denarius Moore. Finally some speed freaks that can actually play and I’m glad we have some track stars with some hands. DHB has shown some improvement, but with that contract he’s looking like a lost cause after this year. DHB still gets no separation for his speed and can’t catch with his hands and resorts to using his body. We have a bundle or solid number two targets, but lack that #1 WR. I’ve been rooting for Schillens to take that spot the last two years, but the “Glass Schillens” effect has just about broken my hope for him as being that guy. I would’ve signed Braylon Edwards as a poor man’s #1, but i guess his 40 time wasn’t good enough for Al.

Richard Seymour Raiders 2011

DEFENSE

DL (9/10) (+1)

The line improved with Shaughnessey and Houston stepping up. Seymour will beast as usual and Kelly looks like he’s more motivated this year. The solid line is now ELITE. If you don’t consider them a top 5 unit in the league then you’ve gotta be a Chef, Bolt, or Donk fan. Just Sayin’.

LB (6/10) (neutral)

They are still terrible at stopping the run like last year and the year before that and the year before that. Groves is not starting material. Keeping wimbley will be good for QB pressure, but we need McClain to step up as run stopper/ball hawk. IMO last year he was average and no better than Morrison would have been if we kept him. Still hoping Lofa Tatupu can be signed at a decent price.

DB (5/10) (-2)

The secondary is at an obvious downgrade without Nnamdi. Routt is decent, but got overpaid. I’m still not very confident in him as our “lockdown” CB. He was simply the best available and I like his physicality, but he resorted to P.I. too much in the past when he gets beat. I also hope we get the contract year Huff performance and not the dive at grass Huff. Branch is iffy as well and if one goes down there is a huge drop in depth at safety. I’d like to see more of Mike Mitchell, but his coverage was never a strong suit. Demarcus Van Dyke has been terrible and needs to ride pine for now. I still need to see more of Chimdi Chekwa as he still looks like he has more potential than DVD even though he was drafted a round after. I still don’t understand why they dropped Lito Shepherd. Even if he is washed up, he’s got to be better than the bums who were out there and could provide some experience for the rookies to feed on.

SEASON

9-7

1 Sep 12 OAK @ DEN (Win)
2 Sep 18 OAK @ BUF (Win)
3 Sep 25 NYJ @ OAK (Loss)
4 Oct 02 NE @ OAK (Loss)
5 Oct 09 OAK @ HOU (Loss)
6 Oct 16 CLE @ OAK (Win)
7 Oct 23 KC @ OAK (Win)
8 Bye
9 Nov 06 DEN @ OAK (Win)
10 Nov 10 OAK @ SD (Loss)
11 Nov 20 OAK @ MIN (Win)
12 Nov 27 CHI @ OAK (Loss)
13 Dec 04 OAK @ MIA (Win)
14 Dec 11 OAK @ GB (Loss)
15 Dec 18 DET @ OAK (Win)
16 Dec 24 OAK @ KC (Loss)
17 Jan 01 SD @ OAK (Win)

The team as it stands progressed and digressed in different areas. Most of these changes cancel each other out, so at the moment I feel the team is just as good or bad as they were last year. Last year they swept the AFC West, but lost two games late against Arizona and SF that were easily winnable.

With that said, expect another average season from the Raiders. The AFC West is still a weak division and the Chargers are the team to beat. The Chiefs aren’t bad either, but no way they are matching their 10-6 record from last year. 9-7 just may be enough to get the Raiders in the playoffs if they somehow edge the Chargers since the Raiders have the easiest schedule in the division.

The division isn’t quite “up for grabs,” but is definitely within reach like the NFC West of 2010. On the realistic side, if the Raiders did sneak into the playoffs, they would need a miracle like the Seahawks to get past the first round.

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