Is Raider Nation Ready to Rise Again?
Ever since the Raiders were throttled by Jon Gruden and the Bucs in the 2003 Superbowl, they’ve never been the same team. Last year alone, the Raiders went 5-11 SU and failed to overcome the spread with a 7-9 ATS record. The only teams that were worse at defending their home turf were Denver (0-7-1 ATS) and Detroit (1-7 ATS). Raider Nation is one of the most proud and definitive fan bases in the NFL betting community. They’re also the most annoying.
The Raiders haven’t made any significant, awe inspiring moves in the last five years. And their record reflects their horrific attempts at bolstering the roster. They’ve won, at most, five games in the last six seasons. In four of the last six seasons, they’ve been the last place team in the AFC West Division. From Randy Moss to Art Shell, the Raiders have seen the best and worst of the NFL. Is there any hope?
Let’s start at the top. Al Davis is a maniac and giving the head coach title to Tom Cable, their former offensive line coach, is more proof in an astounding list of logic defying moves by the Darth Vader of the NFL. I said it in the regular season, and I’ll say it again: you don’t promote the assistant coach responsible for the worst unit on your team to head coach! You just don’t.
So the owner is going senile. The coach is an idiot and completely unproven in terms of success (in terms of failure, The Cable Guy has already proven his ineptitude). How is the actual roster? Defensively, they’re OK. They have a very good secondary, and their pass rush is decent enough. The Raiders allowed 24.3 points per game, ranking 24th in the NFL, but let’s be honest – the offense couldn’t stay on the field.
Blame JaMarcus Russell for not blossoming in to the top overall selection that he was supposed to be. Blame Darren McFadden for basically falling asleep behind a terrible offensive line. Blame Ronald Curry for getting injured every other play. The entire roster is full of glaring holes, but none are bigger than the offensive line.
The Raiders are proof that you can’t take a chance by building a team from the outside in. You start with the offensive line. Think about the talent in Oakland. JaMarcus isn’t the best NFL quarterback, and he likely will never be an elite quarterback, but he’s serviceable. Behind him are Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. That three headed monster accumulated 1,773 rushing yards and a total of 8 touchdowns. If they hadn’t combined for seven fumbles, they’d be considered one of the better backfields in the NFL. On paper, they should be. But neither Russell nor the combination of Fargas-Bush-DMC, can be expected to succeed with that offensive line.
That’s why the drafting of wide-receiver Heyward-Bey is so puzzling. As the seventh pick, Heyward-Bey is going to make about $10 million. Why’s this so dumbfounding? First, receivers take a long time to become viable NFL threats as they adjust to the complexities of NFL offenses, and the speed of the game. Second, Michael Crabtree was available! Third, THEY NEEDED OFFENSIVE LINEMEN!!! There’s absolutely no guarantee that Heyward-Bey is going to be the next great receiver in the league. Is that really worth a $10 million crapshoot? No!