Thankfully the NFL preseason has come to an end and my fave football team finished 0 for 2011 against their opponents. I didn’t get to see every play during the past four weeks but I’ve formed an opinion about how the Raiders will do this season:
- Jason Campbell needs to stay healthy – I was unimpressed with this year’s backup quarterbacks. It didn’t matter whether they threw the ball to a starting wide receiver or someone who will be bagging groceries at Albertson’s once the unionized workers call their strike, they were awful. Kyle Boller sucks and Trent Edwards is even worse. Terrelle Pryor? He didn’t get on the field and he won’t be eligible to practice with the team until his suspension ends after Week 5. If Campbell gets injured, I hope the Raiders plan on running the ball all day long.
- The running game is fierce – I can’t believe how talented the Raiders running game is. Darren McFadden is a breakaway threat every time he carries the ball. Michael Bush is a battering ram that comes at you with surprising speed. Marcel Reece is not only a fullback but athletic enough to play wide receiver. Taiwan Jones, a rookie, looks like he’ll make a great third-down back that can catch short passes and make something happen.
- The secondary needs help – I could stomach the departure of Nnamdi Asomugha to the Philadelphia Eagles but losing Chris Johnson, Hiram Eugene and Mike Mitchell to injury really hurts the Raiders chances of stopping the pass in third and long situations. Walter McFadden? Jeremy Ware? Are you kidding me? If either of them are in the game and the opposing quarterback throws at them, the odds are good it’s going to be six easy points.
- The offensive line isn’t bad – The Raiders lost Robert Gallery in the offseason to free agency and in the grand scheme of things it was no big deal. I didn’t notice him when he played and I don’t notice him now that he’s been replaced. Jared Veldheer and Stephan Wisniewski won’t remind anyone of Art Shell and Gene Upshaw but they’ll do a fine job opening holes for Raiders running backs.
- The receivers need help – I thought this team would miss Zach Miller every time they faced a third and long, but newcomer Derek Hagan looks like he’ll become Jason Campbell’s favorite possession receiver. Jacoby Ford should be ready to go next week in Denver, but Darrius Heyward-Bey isn’t called Darrius Heyward-Bust for nothing. He still runs routes like crap and doesn’t do enough before the catch to get open. What a waste of a first round pick. The good news is late round pick Denarius Moore has shown a lot more promise and effort than DHB.
My prediction? 11-5 is attainable but we’re more likely to see another 8-8 record. There’s too many questions regarding the secondary and wide receivers for me to believe they can challenge the San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC West division championship this season.