AFC West Preview- Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders have not reached .500 or above since the Super Bowl season of 2002, when they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the past five seasons, the Raiders have had four head coaches, and the current head coach, Tom Cable, the one Al Davis did not even know about, is on the shortest of leashes going into 2009. If he does not win right away, he’s probably out of a job for 2010. Looking at what he has to work with, despite the players willing to play hard for him, if the wins don’t come and live up to what Al Davis has proclaimed for the past 50 years: “Just Win Baby”, look for head coach number 5.

If the #1 pick in 2007, JaMarcus Russell can get himself solidified as a true NFL Quarterback, he can be somebody real special and hard to stop. Russell and the two first round picks in the years after, Darren McFadden and Darrius Heyward-Bey, can form one good combination. McFadden was injured for most of his rookie season, and will need to contribute, and Heyward-Bey could really show up and be something special, and show why he was picked ahead of Michael Crabtree. For Russell, this is the year where he needs to show up or ship out, and it’s the time between being a boom or a bust. A good move the Raiders made which has been so under the radar is signing Jeff Garcia, who will be ready to go if Russell struggles.

Defensively, the Raiders have a new coordinator, John Marshall, and he likes to focus on speed, which is what is possessed by cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Trevor Scott will form a good DE combination with Greg Ellis, who was picked up in the offseason. Scott, came on strong in his first season, and will be definitely a force to be reckoned with in 2009. This unit has improved and made the most strides, especially down the stretch when Cable was getting them to play hard and win games, which was something they did not do under Lane Kiffin.

The Raiders can get better, and can improve, but they have to improve this year, especially if they want to play for Cable like they have. The leash is very short, and with Cable’s incident in the offseason punching an assistant (allegedly), that is not good for team chemistry and if that trickles into the regular season, expect another midseason firing from Al Davis. The Raiders need to “Just Win Baby”, they won’t get too much of it this year.

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