NFL Season Preview: Oakland Raiders Begin a New Regime
The Raiders have been plagued by the lack of continuity from their front office, and the lack of consistency from the players who have been on the field in the past few years. In 2010 and 2011, it appeared that the Raiders were trending back upward, following a decade of ineptitude, but 2012 was a major step back. A great deal was due to injuries to players like Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey and numerous members of their defense. However, after cutting longtime DE Richard Seymour, and moving on from QB Carson Palmer, along with a host of the players on their defense, there is a new level of optimism for head coach Dennis Allen and the Raiders.
In addition to moving on from Palmer, the Raiders went out to acquire QB Matt Flynn from the Seattle Seahawks. Flynn had spent 2011 backing up Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, and had 500 yards passing in a game where the Packers were resting their starters. Since that point, Flynn has been a hot commodity, and the Raiders hope that Flynn will be able to tap into some of the magic that he displayed in Week 17 of 2011. Terrelle Pryor is on deck in case Flynn is unable to become the franchise QB that the Raiders are paying him to be.
The Raiders need Darren McFadden to remain healthy. He has had a laundry list of injury issues since he entered the NFL, and 2012 was no different. He represented over two-thirds of the Raiders’ offense when he was healthy early in the season, between rushing yards and the drop off passes that were designed to get him into the open field and exploit his abilities. Oakland will still feature McFadden, but will be seeking a more balanced offense, with the right blend of receivers. Denarius Moore has shown flashes, as has Jacoby Ford. The Raiders additionally acquired Josh Cribbs, who will be given a chance to catch passes from Flynn and potentially juggle return duties with Ford. Rod Streater may also continue to get more opportunities in the passing game as well. The Darrius Heyward-Bey experiment is over, as the receiver signed with the Indianapolis Colts.
Longtime punter Shane Lechler signed with the Houston Texans, and legendary place kicker Sebastian Janikowski was extended once again, with his self proclaimed intent to play another seven or eight seasons. He is the last player on the Raiders who played in Oakland’s most recent Super Bowl 10 years ago. The Raiders are a complete mess defensively, and there are no real indications of who will be the starter at nearly every defensive position on the football field. Questions should begin to get answered on that side of the ball as training camp arrives. The Raiders are currently in a state of flux.
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