Why does everyone think we've lost so much?
On offense, we lost an undersized, injury prone Center in Satele, an ineffective, injury prone Tight End in Boss, and a good backup Running Back in Bush who proved he couldn't carry the load down the stretch without wearing down to the point of ineffectiveness (which is exactly what he became; he couldn't move the pile at all the last few games of the season). Is the loss of Chaz Schillens now suddenly devastating? On defense, we lost a one-trick pony Linebacker in Wimbley who would disappear for games at a time, a penalty waiting to happen at Cornerback in Routt, and another Cornerback in Johnson who couldn't even make it through three games.
Now look at the replacements. We get move our very successful rookie Wisniewski from last year over to his natural position at Center, which opens up a spot for a very successful veteran Guard in Brisiel with years of experience in the offense we are running. We get to let three Tight Ends in Myers, Ausberry, and Gordon with potential battle it out to let the best man start, and I have no doubt that whoever wins can at least match Boss' production from last year. At Running Back, we get our elite runner in McFadden back, and we also added a backup in Goodson who proved very capable of moving the sticks when the Panthers' top 2 went down, and we also have a 2nd year man in Jones who we all expect to explode this year. On defense, we added a Linebacker in Wheeler who is smart and knows how to use the scheme to his advantage (he can actually do more than just rush the passer). We added a big, physical #1 Cornerback in Bartell to match up with the big, athletic Wide Receivers across the NFL. We also added a smart veteran #2 Cornerback in Spencer who has extensive experience with our new Defensive Coordinator. At Defensive End, we get our best run stuffer in Shaughnessy back, we get good Linebacker depth in Goethel back, and we added a very good depth player who can play any defensive line position in Tollefson.
Combine that with what we drafted this year, and I think it's very clear that we gained more this offseason than we lost. Bergstrom will come in and challenge Carlisle at Guard. Burris will either win a starting position or provide valuable depth at Linebacker. Crawford and Bilukidi will both provide young depth on the Defensive Line. Criner has proven that he will be a big part of our passing game. Stupar will be a very good depth and special teams player for us. We even found a gem in Undrafted Free Agency in Streater, who has impressed the coaching staff to the point that he was taking first team reps in Mini Camp.
These "analysts" also seem to have overlooked the big improvements we made in the front office and coaching staff this year. McKenzie, Allen, Knapp, and Tarver are building a champion football team and doing it the right way.
We are much more likely to challenge for 11-5 than go 5-11.
Disclaimer: Any of my comments posted here are not directed at any RFN members. It's just my opinion.
If all our major players stay healthy for most of the season and if our defense plays up to at least the level of an average team then we should win at least 9 games. However, all things considered, I wouldn't be surprised to see us slip to a 7 win season in a transition year. I'm not going to panic if we slip a bit. It usually takes a bit for new systems to take hold and this team has undergone a bigger transformation than most do this year.
However when it comes to the Raiders we always seem to have players no one is afraid of on Sunday, but when they leave the team, they're suddenly super stars and we've got a hole we can't fill.
This is just people wanting the Raiders to suck. They are judging situations not on how they are, but rather what they want them to be. They've got nothing to back up these empty opinions.
I don't really care about all that. Fact of the matter is we've improved. We just need to wait for the season to see the fruits of our labor.
At any rate, the main point is that this team should be better than last year's team.
I don't like making off the wall statements with nothing to back them up, but now I'm going to (yes!): If this team isn't better than last year's team, then a gigantic f*ckup will have occurred on the part of RM. If Dennis Allen and Whatshisname can't improve this defense to mere competency then they were the wrong guys for the job. I don't care if our depth is thin and we don't have the greatest talent on D. A good coaching staff gets the best out of their players and can make average talent work together to make a good team.
They have the pieces to work with. We're not an expansion franchise cobbled together from too many rookies, free agent castoffs, and refugees from the CFL. This team was one defensive stop from winning the division last year. Let's not forget that.
But if Allen and company can get this team to play well and be in every game, then we have a lot to look forward to.
One thing I disagree with is that you do not care if our depth is thin. I certainly care, this team is two or three injuries from a lot of trouble.
I don't know what to make of the sort of thinking that goes into statements like these. DA is not going to be a chump if he doesn't make us a playoff team overnight. We have a slew of issues to work out and while we may have taken a handful of steps forward, it may not be reflected in our record this year. Hell, Gruden is damn near revered and he went 8-8 his first two seasons before he got things turned around.
Here are vegas odds to win the AFC west.
I'd say 11-5 has an excellent chance to win the division. If anyone really thinks we will go 11-5, you stand to win huge in Vegas. Maybe we should pull up the prediction thread from last year and see some track records.
We lost Chaz. So what? We lost him every year for some amount of the season. Our young squad is a year more experienced with a year more practice with Palmer plus we've added two VERY interesting prospects in the draft. We'll be cutting somebody who will make the squad of another team. I don't remember being able to say that in recent years.
We've added Brisiel and hopefully Barksdale and Bergstrom challenge for starting spots.
Shaughnessey, who played three games last season, is back. Tollefson and Ivey bring beef to the line.
We lost Wimbley. Meh. We added Wheeler, Burris, Goethel, and Stupar.
I'll give up Campbell for Palmer, Boller for Leinart any day.
Routt and Johnson were garbage and we had a couple rookies and cast-offs behind them. Johnson didn't even play most of the year.
Now our rookies have some experience. We've picked up two veterans who have proven they can play at a high level. Still one of our weak spots, going into the season, but better than it was last year IMHO.
Running back is a spot where we've slid as far as depth, I'll grant you. That could be resolved picking up Benson, or it could be that Goodson and Jones fill in admirably for Bush. Bush wasn't perfect but he was solid for us.
The other positions are pretty much the same as they were last year.
I just don't see that we've really lost quality at our starting positions, nor at our depth positions. I look at these and say, Hmmm... we're better off going into this season than last.
It is correct to point out other teams in our division and throughout the NFL have also made moves. That's where the real debate is, IMHO. I think we're a better team... is it better than the other guys? I'm hoping so...
Ayso is a .sig genius!!
Now, Allen is taking over a team that went 8-8 its last two seasons, while sporting one of the worst defenses in the NFL both seasons. And last year was the worst Raider D in history. He's a defensive minded coach that was able to pick his own DC. If our defense doesn't improve, then what possible excuses could be given? So what if we're thin on defense? Is Stanford Routt a big loss? Is Wimbley? I don't think so. Add to that the fact that we already have an explosive offense and the best punter and placekicker in the league and there's no excuses for regression. Allen has lots of pre-existing tools to work with. Gruden didn't.
Lots of things can happen to hamper a team's success that are outside of its control; injuries are the biggest and the zebras aren't going to suddenly ease up on us. But the latter should be relieved to some extent if Allen is the disciplinarian he's said to be. Therefore (barring massive injuries), if the offense isn't as good as it was and if the defense doesn't notieceably improve, it indicates failure on the part of the coaching staff, and by extension, Reggie McKenzie.
Lots of teams get new coaches and are able to be successful. I don't accept that we shouldn't be able to do the same considering all the pieces that are already in place on this team.
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