Oakland Raiders 4-12
Last Season’s Rankings: #23 Overall Offense (333.8 total yards per game) #24 Passing Offense (208.8 passing yards per game) #12 Rushing Offense (125.0 rushing yards per game)
For the Raiders last season, everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. Their former draft pick in Terrelle Pryor played well during his first few games, completing 68.5% of his passes for 845 yards and 4 touchdowns. Everything seemed like it was going in the 2-2 Oakland Raider’s direction, until Pryor started missing throws and throwing interceptions. For the rest of his 2013 season, Pryor threw 9 interceptions while completing 45.3% of his throws. After the season was said and done, the Texans’ Matt Schaub was named the new starting QB of the Raiders as Pryor signed with the Seattle Seahawks as a backup. The Raiders could have been in the hunt for the NFC’s wild-card spot had their atrocious defense not allowed so many yards. Where there were some bright spots was in initial back-up running back Rashard Jennings and in receivers such as Andre Holmes and TE Mychal Rivera. In the end the Raiders ranked 24th in the league in points per game (20.1 points scored per game). The concussion/inconsistency of Pryor and the ineffectiveness of back-up Matt McGloin were two of the reasons why the Raiders ended up 4-12 by the end of 2013.
During this off-season the Raiders picked up a lot of players off of free agency, however at the same time, they had to dump a lot of players to make room for their new acquisitions. OT Jared Veldheer and OT Tony Pashos and running back Rashad Jennings were among those important players that said good bye. Last season in the absence of RB Darren McFadden, Jennings played lights out, rushing for 733 yards and six touchdowns on 163 attempts for a 4.5 yards per carry average in 2013. Yet despite Jennings’ great play, Jennings ended up going to New York to play with the New York football Giants. It still to this day confuses me why the Raiders decided to go with injury-plagued McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew over Rashad. Rashad (in my estimation) proved that he was able to be a full-time starter and carry the offensive load. However, the Raiders must have though otherwise after giving McFadden a contract extension. Even though Jennings was healthier and arguably better than RB Darren McFadden, the Raiders still signed McFadden to a one year contract worth $1 Million. I think Jennings was a better back than McFadden, a guy who has done not much other than get injured early on in the season. In 2013 McFadden rushed for 379 yards on 144 carries for a sickly 3.3 yards per carry average before getting injured. Regardless of what I think, 2014 is going to feature McFadden and Jones-Drew as the primary backs in Oakland. I think that despite his record over the past two seasons, Run DMC is going to show his skills in 2014. I see McFadden as the primary back, while MJD provides some solid help in short yardage situations and as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Let’s not forget though, the draft saw the selection of OG Gabe Jackson to the Raiders’ front five. Last season the Raiders ranked 10th-worst in the league with 44 sacks given up and 25th in the league in total passing yards per game (208.8 yards per game). With Gabe Jackson, the Raiders selected one of the better guards in the draft, next to UCLA’s Su’a-Filo and Nebraska’s Spencer Long. At almost 6-4, weighing 336 pounds, Jackson is a big boy, but he has big talent. As well, Jackson had some experience with the running game and helping out in front with run protection. For Darren McFadden and the Raiders, a solid offensive line is crucial to success in the running game. I think even without Jennings, the Raiders will end up in a good place next season. The key though is to hand off the ball to MJD/DMC if they’re performing well. In 2013 the Raiders backs ranked sixth in the league in yards per carry with 4.6 yards per carry, however they ranked 12th in rushing. If either back shows promise, the Raiders coaching staff should the ball in their hands until they see results.
For the time being Matt Schaub is the starting QB of the Oakland Raiders and Derek Carr is the backup. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Schaub will be the starter at the end of the season. Coming out of Fresno State, Carr was one of the NCAA’s most coveted passers. For Fresno State, Carr lead the nation in passing in almost every single category. As a senior at FSU, Carr had arguably one of the best senior seasons to date, throwing for the most passing yards in the nation (5,082 yards, 420 yards more than the second highest passer Sean Mannion), most touchdown passes (50 touchdown passes, 10 more than the second highest passer Jameis Winston), as well as an awesome 68.9% completion rate (would’ve been 70.08%, excluding Carr’s 217-yard performance against USC in the Las Vegas Bowl). Carr looks and feels like a typical NFL QB. At 6-2, 214 pounds, Carr can definitely throw the football deep and short with accuracy. For the Raiders, I think Carr has a legitimate chance at taking the starting job from Matt Schaub during the regular season if Schaub screws up. When comparing the two QBs together there are many similarities and many differences. In terms of passing style, Carr and Schaub are pretty similar. Only real difference is that Carr is more of a shot gun passer while Schaub has more experience under center, handing the ball off. Both have strong arms to chuck the ball deep. Only problem I can see with Schaub is his unfortunate 2013 season with the Texans. He was able to throw numerous pick sixes and ended up getting a concussion, which the lowlife Houston Texan fans cheered about. With that considered, Schaub has had some issues with interceptions. But like all QBs, Schaub is due for a huge comeback in 2014.
Also, when I look at the Raiders offense, I realize that they are actually pretty loaded. With WRs Rod Streater (888 yards), Denarius Moore (695 yards, 5 touchdowns), Andre Holmes (431 yards), and TE Mychal Rivera (407 yards and 4 touchdowns), and new additions in former Packers’ WR James Jones (817 yards in 2013, 14 touchdowns in 2012) and Browns’ WR Greg Little (1,821 career yards and 8 touchdowns in 3 seasons as a Cleveland Brown), I believe that the combination of Streater, Denarius Moore and Jones could be potentially one of the most dangerous in the NFL. Schaub and Carr should have plenty of receiving options to throw to next season. Hoping that Schaub and the Raiders’ dreams of a championship don’t get intercepted, Carr should see the light of day somewhere in the future. Key for him is to show off that gun of his. At Fresno State, he put up video-game-like numbers resembling that of Case Keenum. He needs to make sure to complete all of his passes so that he doesn’t become just another one-trick pony in the NFL. Regardless, the Raiders have a great receiving corps and a defense that can protect a lead on the back end. The running game could potentially be a problem, seeing as that there are a lot of lingering questions with Maurice Jones-Drew. Regardless, I think as long as Schaub doesnt throw and interceptions and completes 60% of his passes, he should remain starter. Get the ball to his receivers hands and let them do the work. As for Derek Carr, I believe he will see plaing time, just not in the immediate future. Best possible outcome I can predict right now is that Carr gets the start if Schaub gets injured. Back to the clip board, I guess.
In The End
Last season the Raiders were able to rank 23rd in the NFL in total yardage and 24th in points per game even without a solid starting QB nor their starting running back. I think 2014 sees huge improvement as the Raiders fully develop their supremely loaded receiving corps. I think Schaub takes this offense far, considering that he has a solid running game and an extremely underrated receiving corps. Look out, the Raiders are most certainly going to surprise some people next season.