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Answering The Questions That The Raider Nation Won't Stop Asking.
Being somebody who follows all of the Raider guys on Twitter, I get a good idea of what the Raider Nation is thinking, and more importantly wondering.
So! I decided to take to ol' Hubpages and answer these questions to the best of my ability.
Disclaimer- While most of my answers were gleened from what the Raiders front office have said or done,these are merely my predictions and opinions and are in no way a reflection of the Raiders organization or set in stone.
Who starts at QB for Oakland?
Will Terrelle Pryor start at QB this season?
In fact, I would argue that his shot at starting with the Raiders at all hinges on whether Matt Flynn and Tyler Wilson can stay healthy.
Before the draft, his chances were significantly better, as he was only competing with the unproven Matt Flynn. However with the acquisition of Arkansas quarterback, Tyler Wilson. It looks bleak.
Let me put it this way.
Last year in Seattle, they had an identical situation. They had a raw, mobile QB who hadn't really been able to establish himself as a starter, so they went out and acquired Matt Flynn. Flynn was thought to have great potential, as was demonstrated in his rare playing time with the Green Bay Packers. Then, in the third round of the draft, the Seahawks selected Russell Wilson from Nebraska. And... You know the rest.
Wilson became the starter, and took the Hawks to the playoffs, while Flynn sat on the bench.
I'm not saying that our Wilson will pass Flynn on the depth chart and take us to the playoffs (though I mean... A dude can dream), there's a piece missing from the puzzle.
The raw, mobile QB? His name was Tavaris Jackson. He was traded to Buffalo before the season began and now finds himself behind the likes of Kevin Kolb and EJ Manuel.
Personally, I've never been much of a Pryor fan. As exciting as he looks on paper or in Madden, his game is missing huge pieces.
He struggles to understand pro-style offenses, has little to no mid-range accuracy, and can't throw a receiver open down the field.
He's essentially a faster, if not thinner Tim Tebow.
The last player that Al Davis drafted has all the size, speed, and strength to give Al the giggles, but like Darrius Heyward-Bey, Michael Huff, Tommy Kelly, and the other remainders of the "Raiduhs", I think the kid has to go.
Will we see the Zone Blocking Scheme (ZBS) again this season?
Hell No. (Will Smith Voice).
Not a chance.
Lets face it, if the Raiders are going to have any success on offense this season, it's going to have to be behind the blazing speed of Darren McFadden.
We didn't see a lot of that in 2012, partially because of his annual injuries, but mostly because Greg Knapp, the offensive coordinator that Dennis Allen hired to coach last season, attempted to transform the Raiders into a West Coast Offense.
It didn't work.
Al Davis, and to some degree, Hue Jackson, built the Raiders with speed and strength. The QB with the big arm, the halfback with insane wheels, and the speedy receivers who can tear past any defensive back in the league.
Greg Knapp essentially tried to take barbarians and make them behave like gentlemen.
Well... Those barbarians ripped off their suits, ruined the party, and only managed 3.3 yards per carry.
Whoops. The metaphor overlapped the truth.
McFadden is known as a home run hitter. In the power blocking scheme, the offensive line makes a hole and he hits it. in that scheme, McFadden averaged near 5 yards per carry and was one of the most feared players in the league.
Greg Knapp brought in the ZBS, or the Zone Blocking Scheme, a style of blocking that requires the back to move laterally and patiently until the blocks develop. McFadden never quite got it and that hurt the Raiders big time. They couldn't sustain drives, they fell behind, and then they had to rely on Carson Palmer to keep them in games.
I have 12 reasons why that didn't work.
Thankfully, Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen heard the desperate please of the Silver and Black Nation and fired Greg Knapp.
They brought in Greg Olsen, an offensive coordinator of the old Mike Martz system.
What does that mean for Oakland?
It means a version of the west coast that is very friendly to passers and backs like McFadden.
In 2006, Olsen was the OC for the St. Louis Rams...
That year, Marc Bulger, yes THAT Marc Bulger had 4,300 yards, 24 TDs, and only 8 interceptions, while Steven Jackson ran for 1,500 yards and 13 TDs.
Neither player has sniffed that level of success since.
So. No more ZBS, and this looks like a very DMC-Friendly offense.
Who will start on defense?
This is actually a good question, and I'm glad that somebody asked it. The Raiders defense has changed drastically since the end of last season.
So drastically, that not even I am positive what package we will use.
Some of the players that the Raiders have signed hint towards converting to a 3-4, but rumors out of O-Town are that they'll use some hybrid formation.
I dunno. It's gonna be wild. I'm gonna have to list all the starters for both!
So... This question more than any will be speculation.
DE- Lamarr Houston.
DT/(and 3-4 NT)- Vance Walker
DT- Pat Sims
DE- Andre Carter
OLB- Kevin Burnett
ILB- Nick Roach
ILB (3-4)- Miles Burris
OLB- Sio Moore
CB- D.J. Hayden
CB- Tracy Porter
Nickel- Philip Adams (Yes, he'll beat out Mike Jenkins )
FS- Usama Young
SS- Tyvon Branch
Cool defensive list... What about offense?
This one is hard. Mostly because the Raiders offense left so much to be desired last year, that its gonna be hard to find spots. The only guy who's locked down for sure is good ol' Jared Veldheer at LT. Its interesting because I've looked up the history of tight ends in Olsen's offenses... Those guys aren't utilized nearly as much as the wide receivers.
*This list is subject to changes if any free agent moves are made.
LT- Jared Veldheer
LG- Tony Bergstrom
C- Stefen Wisniewski.
RG- Khalif Barnes
RT- Menelik Watson
QB- Matt Flynn
HB- Darren McFadden
FB- Marcel Reece
WR 1- Rod Streater
WR 2- Jacoby Ford
Slot- Denarius Moore
TE 1- Nick Kasa
TE 2- Richard Gordon
K- Sebastian Janikowski
P- Marquette King
How many wins do YOU see Oakland getting this season?
How well do you see us doing this year?
After looking my projected depth charts and checking the schedule...
Without seeing them play at all, only going off of what I know of players, coaches, and improvements/collapses of other teams since last year, my wild guess is that the Raiders could finish with as many as seven wins.
I can see the Raiders beating Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Tennessee, Dallas, New York (Jets), as well as splitting the series with both Kansas City and San Diego.
Again, that is a loose, if not slightly optimistic guess. I'd be pleased with 7 wins, a marked improvement from 2012's 4, and better earned than the 8 of 2011.
In the NFL today, everything comes down to inches. One play can change your season.
The Raiders lost 5 games last year because of one or two bad plays.
While 9-7 wouldn't have gotten them into the playoffs, it would have gotten them something else they haven't had in 11 years...
A winning record.
How do you feel about Reggie McKenzie?
Reggie has finally cleaned out all of the trash and given us the fresh start than Al never delivered us.
He got rid of the Speed > Skill guys and eliminated all of the ridiculous contracts, and he's instilled a new mentality in the Raider organization.
The record might have gotten worse, the stats might be uglier, but in every other way, the Raiders have improved.
They finally cut back on penalties, a problem that had held the Raiders back for decades now. And they moved away from that ancient vertical offense.
Reggie McKenzie cleaned up the practice fields, upgraded the technology (No more overhead projectors), and didn't fire his head coach after one season.
He's smart, patient, and he's bringing the Silver and Black into the modern era.
I have a vision of a Raiders team that competes for a division title every season.
Tyler Wilson hitting Rod Streater in stride for his fourth touchdown of the day.
D.J. Hayden intercepting Joe Flacco, Andrew Luck, or some other elite AFC QB to lock up a big away win.
A time when the Raiders can proudly lift the Lombardi Trophy proudly and rejoice as we re-join the ranks of the good, the great, and the elite.
And I believe that Reggie McKenzie is the man that can take us there.