On January 18 of this year, Hue Jackson was announced as the fifth Oakland Raiders coach in the last seven years. Al Davis let Tom Cable go despite some obvious improvements in the team, and now it will be up to Jackson to help the team get back to the top of the AFC West. Many Raider players weren’t terribly happy by the news that Cable wasn’t going to be returning to the sidelines, so Jackson may have a bit of a difficult job on his hands. The Raiders haven’t had any real success since 2002, when they were beaten by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII.
One of the biggest question marks around this Raiders team the last few years has been the quarterback position. Is Jason Campbell the answer under center? Campbell was 7-5 as the starter in 2010, and he completed 59% of his passes. He threw 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Overall, his first season in the black and silver couldn’t be labeled as a failure, but continued improvement is definitely needed. The Raiders must get some improved play from their wide receivers. Campbell is fortunate to have plenty of good backs and tight ends to dump the ball off to, but this offense really needs some play makers to step up on the outside. Will Zach Miller be back with the team in 2011? Miller is arguably the team’s best offensive player right now, but he is a free agent and he is being courted by several different organizations.
The running game was dominant in 2010. Darren McFadden had a massive breakout season in his third year in the NFL. McFadden rushed for 1,157 yards on the season. Michael Bush also ran for 655 yards, and he will be back in 2011. Tom Cable’s system emphasized running the football and the Raiders had the second most rushing yards in the league last year.
The Raiders allowed the second fewest amount of passing yards in the NFL last year, but that was with Nnamdi Asomugha shutting down one side of the field. Asomugha is now an Eagle, and the Raiders will look to some young corners to step in and contribute right away. Oakland allowed 134 yards per game on the ground last year, which was 29th in the NFL. The Raiders need a run stuffer to plug into this defensive line. Kamerion Wimbley and Rollando McClain lead a solid group of young linebackers for this unit.
Oakland Raiders 2011-2012 NFL Prediction: 7-9 (3rd Place in AFC West)
The Raiders schedule is a mixed bag in 2011. They do pick up some out of conference bottom feeders like the Bills and the Lions, but they must also host the Patriots and travel to Green Bay. I think it is asking a lot to expect this team to improve on their record from 2010. The running game should still be good, but I just don’t see the offense being balanced. The defense might actually take a small step back. I think the Raiders finish slightly below .500 this season.
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