The Raiders new GM Reggie McKenzie had his work cut out for him from Day 1. He quickly fired head coach Hue Jackson and filled the vacancy with former Denver Broncos coordinator Dennis Allen. McKenzie also overhauled the front office and released four longtime employees in the player personnel department and plans to develop management to the way he wants it.
McKenzie also had his work cut out for him at the 2012 NFL Draft; because of the Carson Palmer and Richard Seymour trade, plus the supplemental draft pick of Terrelle Pryor, the Raiders were limited to only five draft picks for the entire draft and the first pick wasn’t until Round 3.
Starting quarterback Carson Palmer did not lead Oakland to the playoffs last season, but what did you expect from a player who was sitting on his couch until mid-October and then thrown into the NFL to “right the ship”? With the new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, Palmer doesn’t have to rely on his arm as much because Knapp believes in more of the running and Palmer’s ability to move outside of the pocket.
Let’s talk about the run game, this is where Darren McFadden makes his living as the Raiders’ running back and who I consider as the X-factor of the team. When on the field, McFadden can be one of the most productive RBs in the league, but in his four seasons in the league he has not completed a season without missing games because of being injured constantly; he missed 16 of the last 44 starts. The Raiders’ wins and losses are determined by how long he can stay on the field and contribute.
The late owner Al Davis believed in speed and they still have enough of that in wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore; with a season under their belt, Palmer and his wideouts will find the connection to bring the veritcal game back to Oakland.
Just like the GM, the head coach has his hands full with trying to make the Raiders a disciplined team, this is a team who would lead the league in penalties year in and year out. Even though it seems they are up there with the Broncos and Chargers because they finished in a three-way tie (8-8) last season, Denver and San Diego made moves to get better in the offseason, Oakland didn’t.
Prediction of Oakland Raiders season record: 8-8
Written by – Arnold Glass II – AFC West Writer