2014 NFL Preview: Oakland Raiders

2014 NFL Preview: Oakland Raiders

No NFL franchise has been in more disarray during the last decade than the Oakland Raiders. Since losing Super Bowl XXXVII to Tampa, the Silver and Black have failed to post a winning season and have lost 11-plus games nine times. Seven different head coaches have attempted to right the ship but none have come close. Botched first-round draft picks such as JaMarcus Russell and Darius Heyward-Bey have made the front office the laughing stock of the league. To put it mildly, the Raiders are light years away from the team that rose to national prominence in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Is there any hope whatsoever that this once proud organization can turn things around? Maybe. Here’s a preview of the 2014 Oakland Raiders.

Outlook: In an effort to pull themselves from salary cap quicksand, a complete roster overall was executed during the offseason. Only a handful of starters remain from 2013, which is a good thing. The signing, then unsigning, of guard Rodger Saffold in free agency made the front office the butt of another joke. However, some “name” acquisitions and a promising draft haul should be cause for excitement. The clock on Dennis Allen is ticking, though. If he can’t steer some early season wins, he could be a coaching casualty before December. They will play hard and scare a couple of opponents, but seizing wins will be difficult.

New arrivals: Where to begin? The offense added veterans Matt Schaub, Maurice Jones-Drew, James Jones, Donald Penn, Kevin Boothe, and Austin Howard. Plus, rookie Derek Carr will be groomed to be the next starting quarterback. The defense should be improved with LaMarr Woodley, Justin Tuck, Antonio Smith, and Carlos Rogers penciled in to start, but as a whole, it’s an aging unit. A bright spot for the future is first-rounder Khalil Mack, who didn’t look overjoyed on draft night after hearing his name called, but is chock-full of athleticism and energy. If he buys into wearing the uniform, he’ll be a pass rushing beast from day one.

Wave goodbye: Many fans would’ve preferred to see Darren McFadden jettisoned, but the oft-injured fantasy football tease is back, for better or worse. Jared Veldheer was one of two prize free agents, so of course he inked a 5-year, $35 million deal with Arizona. The other one, Lamarr Houston, signed his own 5-year, $35 million contract with the Bears. Neither was a Pro Bowler, but both are quality starters who will be missed by a team that desperately needs to keep its best players in house. Rashad Jennings parlayed a couple of stat-stuffing mop-up performances into a 4-year agreement with the Giants. Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter are past their prime cornerbacks and each was allowed to walk.

Over/Under wins – 5: The season starts with the Jets and Texans. After that the schedule is a nightmare. They will have to spring some major upsets to reach six wins. The backfield should be decent if both guys stay healthy, and wide receivers Rod Streater and Andre Holmes are intriguing young talents. Getting to five wins is doable, but any more than that seems unlikely.

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