The Oakland Raiders are destined to be a success this season because…well because everyone pretty much seems to think so. Plenty of fans and media reporters look at the roster assembled by head coach Jack Del Rio and General Manager Reggie McKenzie. However, just because everyone says the Raiders will make the play-offs doesn’t mean they will (Duh) and certain things need to happen for Oakland to be playing football in January.
Can they improve the running game?
It sounds so cliche but it is true. The Raiders must have success with the ball on the ground in order help the pass game.
The Raiders ranked 29th in the league in rushing attempts in 2015 and 28th in yards. With an improved offensive line, this may help and hopefully Latavius Murray can have another 1,000+ yards season, though he struggled in week two of the pre-season against Green Bay. Rookie fifth-rounder Deandre Washington looks a steal if his tape from their impressive 31-10 win against the Arizona Cardinals in week one of the pre-season is anything to go by. He carried the ball eight times and ran for 43 yards in the win so if he can keep that up, it can take some of the pressure of Murray and more importantly the quarterback.
Can Derek Carr take another leap?
Derek Carr will stand behind one of the best offensive lines this season and with Michal Crabtree, Amari Cooper and Clive Walford to throw to, Carr has no excuses. His relationship with Cooper looks better than it did last year and should Cooper eliminate some of those costly drops from last season, that will obviously help Carr’s numbers this season.
He threw for 3,987 yards last season, throwing for 32 touchdowns and turning the ball over 13 times. Solid numbers but fans and head coach Jack Del Rio will want to see further progress, especially in the back end of the season.
Carr got worse as the season went along. His QBR over Oakland’s first eight games was 11th in the league at 66.6. The next eight? 35.1, leaving him 28th out of 29 passers. This cannot happen again for a team hoping to be playing football in January.
Can they engineer a shut-down defence?
“I know that’s one of the best defenses in the history of the game but we can make the quarterback uncomfortable, just like they did,” Khalil Mack said of the Denver Broncos D. “We have a lot of talent and a ball-hawking secondary. It’s not going to happen overnight, but we can be that good with hard work and with our own little twists.”
The scary thing about that quote is that it is true. On paper. Mack is a freak. A monster. A hall of fame calibre defender. Carr joked that he could have 30 sacks this season but realistically, Mack will be aiming for 15 at a minimum.
Losing veterans Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck was a huge blow but they have been replaced with some stud talent. Bruce Irvin arrives from Seattle, Reggie Nelson from Cincinnati and first round pick Karl Joseph looks like he is ready to go. Add that to the talent talent already on the roster in Mario Edwards Jnr, Dan Williams and Malcolm Smith and you are potentially looking at one of the scariest defences in the NFL.