Across the Pond by Dave Wilson
Wednesday, December 22 2010 @ 06:28 AM CST
Contributed by: Ore
Contributed by: Ore
Playoffs Or Not, The Raiders Are Back...
When you look at the Raiders record of 7-7, it isnít that great. Unless that is, you look at every other season since 2002/3, in which case it looks pretty good.
Now I donít mean to say that if the Raiders make 8-8 then that is the Holy Grail, it isnít. But you donít take a team from 6 straight 11 loss seasons to a Superbowl contender in a season, and 8-8 is a good benchmark with which to start.
I suppose that is really the point of this article, that whether we make to post season or whether we donít over the next two weeks, the Raiders are still involved in meaningful games in late December and a chance of the division title. More than that, the Raiders are relevant again in the AFC West, and a lot of things got sorted out this year.
This team at last has an identity, and itís one I like. They have an identity in the way they play, and the type of player that fits in Oakland. They are a hard nosed run first team, that can also make big plays downfield in the passing game. The type of player they go for are high character, hard working young men, with a team first mentality and a degree of versatility within the Raiders system.
It might not be exactly what the Raiders were in the 70ís and 80ís, but I like it and it works.
We also got a lot of things sorted out this year. Like the quarterback position. Jason Campbell has for me proved that he is the guy who deserves to be number one. I believed at the start of the season that Bruce Gradkowski was better, but Campbell has proved me wrong. Not just with his play, but by his being attitude and maturity when he was replaced by Gradkowski on more than one occasion, and the fact that he just got better as the year went on. Even when he had bad starts to games, he came back out and put it right. Consider where we were this time last year, and we are in a much better place now.
Darren McFadden has shed his bust label, and is now the focus of this offense and one of the most productive runners in the NFL. He is a home run threat on every play.
Jared Veldheer was drafted to maybe project as a left tackle of the future. He isnít, he is the left tackle of the present. Another smart, high character kid who came in and produced from day one. The Raiders currently have the number eight offense in the NFL, and the second ranked running offense. Last year the offense was 28th. The defense ranks 11th currently, last year it was 26th. An improved pass rush has us third in sacks, and Rolando McClain is proving to be exactly what we drafted him to be which is an every down middle linebacker. McClain is another player who has just got better and better as the season went on. Another smart player who studies hard and plays hard.
Al Davis and Tom Cable put together a draft in 2010 year that was the best in many years. McClain, Lamarr Houston, Veldheer, and Jacoby Ford all look to be big contributors for years to come. Travis Goethel, Walter McFadden, Jeremy Ware, and Stevie Brown have all made the team and contributed. If we havenít seen much from Bruce Campbell this year, we knew he was a project when we drafted him and he was taken on potential not production. Kamerion Wimbley has also been a find. But the point is that this team has started to believe in itself, found an identity, and has a core of very talented young payers who are willing to play their hearts out for coach Tom Cable.
So yes, there are some game we should have won and didnít (Arizona, San Francisco), and a couple of games where we came out flat after the bye week. But Oakland is also 5-0 in the division, and that is something that would have been incredible to even think of last year. The defense has had some meltdowns, but has still gone from 26th in the league last year to now verging on a top 10 unit.
What we need now is continuity going into next year. We have all the pieces of the puzzle in place with this young team. Kudos to coach Cable, Hue Jackson, and John Marshall. They havenít been perfect, but they have given it everything and made this team relevant again. I truly believe that they should come back next year.
Because the future for this team is bright.
Keep those e mails coming.
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Showdown in San Diego
The Corner is Officially Turned
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