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Football NFL

NFL Team Previews: Oakland Raiders

If this team does unravel, I fully expect it to be on the defensive side of the ball.

2018 Season Review: 4-12 (4th in AFC West)

The Oakland Raiders had a tough first year that started with a lot of hope.  First of all, they brough back Jon Gruden to coach in the black hole and get this team ready for a move to Las Vegas. Everybody was fucking PUMPED UP and it was evient in their opening Monday Night gamea gainst the Los Angeles Rams, and although that game was close for a bit, the Raiders fell short. It took the Raiders until week 11 to get thier second win of the season, and post week 4 there weren’t many competitive games. 

But the biggest story came before the season even started. In NFL these days you want three staples to start a franchise.  QB, LT, and an Edge Rusher.  The Raiders had a QB.  They needed a LT. They had the edge rusher in Kahlil Mack, but refused to pay him what he wanted.  Jon Gruden wasn’t the GM but it was clear he was the man in charge in Oakland.  For some dumb reason, Gruden shipped Mack off to Chicago for First Round picks in 2019 and 2020, a Third Round pick in 2020, and a 6th Round pick in 2019. 

That loss was huge for the Raiders on defense. They had 13 sacks all year, just unacceptable. Rookie DT Maruice Hurst led the team with 4.0 sacks adn that was about it.  The defense could not get any pressure on the QB which then hurt their secondary which was also bad.  The Raiders defense as a whole, had holes all over the place and no playmakers. The defense gave up 29.1 PPG and for the most part, gave the Raiders no chacne at winning games. 

The offense was erratic to put it best. They finished 28th in PPG, and 23rd in yard per game overall. They scored 45 points in their Week 4 win over the Cleveland Browns.  It then took them the NEXT FIVE GAME to score more than 45 points combined.  They put up 10 on the Chargers, 3 on the Seahawks, 28 on the Colts, 3 to the 49ers, and 6 on the Chargers. Finally, after five weeks they scored 50 points.  It got better after that but it was clear Jon Gruden’s offense wasn’t clicking with the team.  Their offensive line was supbar, they didn’t have any good weapons out at WR, and Marshawn Lynch only played 6 games which led to the Raiders using Doug Martin and Jalen Richard as their main backs.  Martin still ran for 723 yards at 4.2 yards per carry, but his best days are behind him. 

Richard proved to be a great third down back, catching 68 passes for 607 yards but he failed to find the endzone receiving. Only two recieving targets managed more yards than Richard.  Jordy Nelson caught 63 balls for 739 yards and 3 TDS, but he was erratic as well.  Jared Cook at TE had 896 yards and 6 TDS on 68 catches. 

The other notable move the Raiders made in regards to their receiving core, was shipping off another key young part of their team in WR Amari Cooper.  The Raiders traded Cooper to the Cowboys for a 2019 First Round pick. Cooper was off and on for the Raiders, but it still seemed odd that Gruden wanted to get rid of such a promising young talent.  On the other hand, they did get a First Round pick out of it, more than many people thought they would get.  

Overall, the Raiders were a mess all over and failure in Jon Grudens first year.  Going into 2019 they need to make a lot of changes in their final year in Oakland before moving to Las Vegas.  Well, the Raiders made the most of their opporutinity with cap space and draft picks. Let’s take a look at what they did. 

Key Off-season Acquisitions

WR Antonio Brown (via trade with Steerlers for 2019 3rd and 5th round picks)

Along with Le’Veon Bell this is arguably the biggest move in the NFL off-season. Brown relationship with the Steelers and Big Ben deteriorated to the point he got traded for just a 3rd and 5th round pick, now the Raiders needed to pay him but they obviously felt like he was worth it. Brown will change Grudens offense and it’ll be interesting to see how Gruden decides to use him. Gruden did get to use Tim Brown and Jerry Rice back in the day, and obviously watched Brett Favre play with great WRs like Sterling Sharp and Robert Brooks. This offense, should really revolve around Brown and we’ll see if he can carry it without any real proven help anywhere else.

RT Trent Brown (4 years, $66 Million)

The Raiders took a chance on the biggest offensive line target available. Brown was a guy who didn’t live up to expectation in San Francisco and was traded to the Patriots, where surprise, he excelled and made himself a shit ton of money. The Raiders needed some desperate help on the offensive line and they paid Brown big money. We’ll see if his great play in New England moves to the West Coast. Brown will have to deal with OL Coach Tom Cable who somehow keeps getting jobs. Check out these stats on his pass protection rankings.

https://twitter.com/SharpFootball/status/1139201260001923072

WR Tyrell Williams (4 years, $44.3 Million)

This seems like an overpay for a guy that has been solely a deep threat his whole career. Gruden and Mayock must have seen something in Williams to give him such a big deal. With the Chargers, Williams had some phenomenal games but he never was consistent in breaking out. In Los Angeles last year it was clear Williams would be at least the 3rd option in the passing in the game behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. With TE Hunter Henry coming back, Williams could have fallen to 4th in line. Combine that with the huge money the Raiders offered and its easy to see why he left. Williams has had a 1,000 yards receiving before in 2016 where he caught 69 balls and added 7 TDs. However, the past two years he managed just 65 and 69 targets. In Oakland he’ll be the clear #2 guy and have the chance to make a ton of play opposite Antonio Brown.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocnU6uY0Nqk&t=47s

LaMarcus Joyner (4 years, $42 Million)

The Raiders secondary was fucking awful, especially at Safety. They decided to go after Rams S LaMarcus Joyner and bring him in on a big pay day. Joyner is a small Safety at only 5’8″ and 191 pounds, but he has earned his payday. He’ll jump in and be the immediate leader in the DBs room for the Raiders. Not only will he play Safety for this team, but look for Joyner to maybe move into the slot in certain packages.

2019 NFL Draft

Round 1 Pick #4: DE Clelin Ferrell

It was reported that the Raiders actually wanted to move back in the draft because they like Ferrell the most out of any pass rushers, and they knew he was projected to be picked 10th or later by most. However, they couldn’t move back so the Raiders had the first big surprise pick of the draft. Ferrell was a beast for Clemson from the get go. His Sophomore year he was named a first team All-American by the AP, the past two years he was an All-ACC first-team selection, and won the Ted Hendricks award this past year as the nations top defensive end. He stands at 6’4″ 264 pounds and can do it all. Last year he racked up 53 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, four pass breakups, and three forced fumbles. Not to bad consider the year before that he had only 18 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. Ferrell is a day one starter for the Raiders.

Round 1 Pick #24: RB Josh Jacobs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnlxWfeQAJA

Another day one starter for the Raiders, Jacobs was really the only highly graded RB in this draft and he was the only one taken in the first round. The Raiders tried the Marshawn Lynch experiment but it did’t work, they also have Doug Martin but he’s washed up now and is a solid backup but that it is it. Because Alabama is loaded at almost ever position, Jacobs didn’t become a focal point of the Tides offense till this past year where he had 120 carries for 640 yards (that’s 5.3 a carry), and 11 TDs. He also caught 20 balls for 247 yards and three other scores. Finally, he was also a kick returner for the Crimson Tide where he had 428 return yards on 14 tries and one TD. He can really do it all and will be given every opportunity to be a three down back from the get go.

Round 1 Pick #27: S Johnathan Abram

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iiuGex5BHo

Abram was the second Safety taken in the NFL Draft, and was a big need for the Raiders. The Raiders decided to address their Safety problems by signing a veteran guy, and then drafting a young guy. Abrams like the other two first round picks will be given every opportunity to start from day one. Abram burst onto the scene in 2017 where he was first team All-Sec and third team All-American. In 2018 Abram led a great Mississippi State defense in tackles with 99, he also had 9 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 INTs, 5 pass breakups, and one forced fumble.

Key Off-season Departures

TE Jared Cook (2 years, $15 Million)

This might not be big to many Raider fans because he wasn’t utilized in Oakland like he could have been, but Jared Cook is a very good receiving TE. In terms of fantasy, I think Cook will be a top 5 fantasy TE in New Orleans this year. Now, the Raiders team doesn’t feature a TE that scares anybody and the position is largely up in the air for them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4P5rFsnEzM

2019 Season Preview

The Raiders were 12-4 just two football season ago, they’re trying to get back to that success. They needed an overhaul of this roster to find success and they have done that. They have new weapons on offense, they have have new play makers on defense and on paper they should make a big jump in wins.

However all their success could really come down to Jon Gruden and how this team handles their impending move to Las Vegas. The Raider organization may want to give Oakland a successful season before they leave, but the leadership is probably looking forward to being successful in Las Vegas rather than Oakland. Gruden is the biggest aspect here though. His tenure last year was rocky at best as there were a lot of reports coming out about how unstable the locker room was with him, and there was a lot made of his relationship with Derek Carr. In 2019 Gruden needs to take control of both and bring Carr back to that MVP level he was at in 2016. Another year in this offense should help Carr be more successful, and combine that with guys like Brown and Williams, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Carr had a career year.

Going off of Carr and the offense, Antonio Brown shouldn’t miss a step. Expect Brown to go out there and prove he is still a top 5 WR in the league. The question on Brown is how will he react with a QB he’s no familiar with in tight situations, and how will he be in the locker room if this team is bad. The Raiders offensive should be explosive, but if their defense doesn’t improve then how long until this team starts to crumble from the inside out.

The defense is talented, but young, and the jury is still out for me on defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. He had some success in Cincinnati with two great defenses in 2015 and 2016. But the other two years were average and his defense was bad last year.

If this team does unravel, I fully expect it to be on the defensive side of the ball. Not because they players are not good, but because the players are young and I’m not sold on Guenther. That doesn’t mean the drama is going to come from that side of the ball, but losses will be more on this defense than the offense.

Schedule

the AFC West gets to play the AFC South and NFC North this year. Getting last in the AFC West last year, the Raiders also get the Jets and Bengals on their schedule that differs from the rest of their division.

The Raiders have only two prime-time games this year, Week 1 on Monday Night Football at home against the Broncos. This is no surprise, it seems every year in a Week 1 some AFC West team gets the second MNF opener for the league. The second prime-time game comes in Week 10 on Thursday Night against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders also get to play in London this year, in Week 5 against the Bears which counts as a home for them. Which really doesn’t matter since this is a lame duck year for them in Oakland anyway.

The Raiders also get a hard end of the season schedule, the play 4 of their last six on the road including all three division rivals in that span. That is a result of playing Weeks 9-11 at home. They also open and end the season with the Denver Broncos. The Raiders are also going to put on a lot of miles in the air. Starting in week three they’ll fly to Minnesota, then to Indianapolis, then to London. After that, they get a bye week and then fly to Green Bay, and then to Houston. So they’ll play in Oakland on September 15th, and then won’t play in Oakland again until November 3rd. That is a long time to be away from home, and they get fucked over because that London game is considered a home game. All in all, the names on their schedule might not look the toughest, but the Raiders are going to have to navigate a very tough schedule to be successful.

Fantasy Player You Want

I’m gong to go Josh Jacobs here. You can probably get him later than most three down RBs but rookie RBs have also proven that they can be successful in fantasy football. Jacobs will start for the Raiders, and he has the added upside of being a good pass catcher to give you extra points there.

Fantasy Player to Avoid

Any TE on this roster should not be rostered. Jared Cook was a good TE and he was erratic for the Raiders. The focus of this offense is going to be on Brown, Williams, and Jacobs. If you’re rostering a Raiders a TE, your TE position has some serious problems.

Ceiling

The Raiders are a tough team to pin down. The jury is still out if Gruden has a hold of this team, can Derek Carr play like he did a few years ago when the Raiders won 12 games, will Antonio Brown be a distraction, and finally did they even improve their team enough. The division is also tough, the Chiefs will be good, the Chargers should be good but who knows and the Broncos could be good or just awful. I’ll say this, the Raiders have a lot of talent and if they put it together I think this team can win 9 games this year.

Floor

Each one of those things I listed above could also implode on the Raiders. How will the fans react if this team comes back home in Week 9 with an awful record? The Raiders are going to have one of the biggest splits here for any team we do. Although I can see this team winning nine games, I can also see them winning just 4.

USA Today Sports Images

 

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1 comment on “NFL Team Previews: Oakland Raiders

  1. Pingback: NFL Team Previews: Jacksonville Jaguars » Moxie Sports

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