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2015 NFL Season Preview- Oakland Raiders
After starting the season 0-4, head coach Dennis Allen was fired. Oakland then hired the team's offensive line coach Tony Sparano to be the team's interim head coach. The team went on on to go 3-9 to finish the year on a high note.
The offense finished ranked last in rushing yards and total offense, but there is a lot of hope for the future. Quarterback Derek Carr played it safe as he attempted to avoid interceptions and sacks, but he has been the most productive and effective Raiders quarterback since Rich Gannon. The running game was a mess for much of the year but Latavius Murray was productive when the season was already lost. Wide receiver James Jones led the team in receptions and touchdowns but he was released after signing with the team last offseason.
The defensive was a middle of the road defense. Safety Charles Woodson had a resurgence of play after recording four interceptions and setting a career high with 83 tackles. The young linebacking corps seem to have the best energy of any level of the defense. Linebacker Khalil Mack had an immediate impact against both the run and pass and will be the cornerstone of the defense for the next decade. Defensive end Lamar Woodley was a big disappointment only playing in six games and failing to register a sack.
Raiders 2014 Rankings
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 26th
NFL Rank- Last
NFL Rank- 16th
NFL Rank- 22nd
NFL Rank- Last
NFL Rank- 21st
After going 8-28 in two and half years with Dennis Allen, the Raiders needed to look for a head coach who can restore Oakland to its former dominance. The team decided to hire former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach and Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to be the team's new head coach.
After the team's offensive coordinator Greg Olson left for Jacksonville, the team hired former Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave to be the team's new offensive coordinator. After making an obscene gesture toward an official during a game, defensive coordinator Jason Tarver was fired. He was replaced by former Seattle Seahawks linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. After he wasn't hired to be the new head coach, offensive line coach Tony Sparano moved on to San Francisco. He was replaced by former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Tice.
Notable Additions- QB Christian Ponder, RB Roy Helu, RB Trent Richardson, WR Michael Crabtree, C Rodney Hudson, MLB Curtis Lofton, OLB Malcolm Smith, S Nate Allen
Notable Departures- QB Matt Schaub, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, RB Darren McFadden, WR James Jones, C Stefen Wisniewski, DE Lamar Woodley, SS Tyvon Branch
Derek Carr Rookie Highlights
2015 NFL Draft
Oakland possessed the fourth overall pick in the draft and had many holes that needed to be filled. Primarily at wide receiver, offensive tackle, and defensive end.
Apart from James Jones, the receiving corps failed to get open for Derek Carr. The offense needs a true number one receiver that can run all the routes and doesn't have to leave the field.
The interior offensive line is set, but the team needs a young blindside blocker with Menelik Watson prone to injuries. Protecting Derek Carr will be the key to this team being successful.
Khalil Mack put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, but only four sacks. Oakland needs a true pass rusher who can open up opportunities for other defenders.
The team ended up choosing Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper with the fourth overall pick. Cooper was viewed as the top route running wide receiver in the draft but was criticized for his occasional lack of focus.
Oakland also drafted Florida State defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. in the second round and Miami tight end Clive Walford in the third. Edwards had the best upper body strength of the defensive ends in the draft but was criticized for his lack of range on the line. Walford was praised for his athleticism after the catch but he has to build up muscle in his lower body and need to learn how to properly run routes.
Amari Cooper Highlights
What to Expect
Jack Del Rio grew up 15 miles south of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. He knows what a championship means for that community. The foundation is in place for the Raiders to return to their former greatness.
Expect Derek Carr to take more chances in his second season and with a wide receiver like Amari Cooper to throw to, he should be comfortable throwing it in any situation. If Latavius Murray can play at the same level he did the last half of last season, he will be the teams starting running back for awhile.
On the defensive side, Oakland now has an edge rusher in Mario Edwards who can get to the quarterback and open up more opportunities for Khalil Mack. The way Charles Woodson played last year, he can play safety for a couple more years in the black hole.
That being said, the team is still missing some key pieces at defensive tackle and cornerback that are keeping this team from challenging the rest of the AFC West. Given another season, the Raiders could get back to there glory days by next season.
Best record they can hope for: 6-10