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Difficult schedule ahead for Oakland

Difficult schedule ahead for Oakland

Second year tight end Mychal Rivera sprints down the sideline after busting loose from the Detroit Lions defense in a preseason game.


POSTED August 23, 2014 12:37 a.m.

The Oakland Raiders have suffered another 4-12 season in 2013, which was good for last place in the AFC West.

Now, the big question for the silver and black is, how will head coach Dennis Allen and his staff do in their third year?

“We are already ahead of where we were last year, there is no question about that,” said Allen.

With the addition of quality veteran players for the 2014 season from free agency, the Raiders also added exquisite draftees in linebacker Khalil Mack along with quarterback Derek Carr to help the team for the 2014 year.

You add LaMarr Woodley, Antonio Smith and Justin Tuck to the front-seven along with free agent signees Carlos Roger and Tarell Brown as the corners, and the defense already looks ready to match up against anybody.

Tyvon Branch and Charles Woodson will be working as the safety duo for Oakland, assuming they maintain themselves healthy throughout the year.

This team’s defense already seems like a heavy hitting team that is destined for an immediate improvement from the 2013 season, at least at the defensive side.

“I felt confidence when I signed. I thought that these guys were playing some hard-nosed football and I was wondering how their record was 4-12,” said Woodley. “I felt real good right before I signed since I was able to look at film and looked at the defense and this defense played good ball last year.”

While Allen may be on the ‘hot seat’ the quarterback situation might become the x-factor for the head coach and the season.

The last thing Allen and his staff want is to endure the growing pains of a rookie quarterback. They’re already on owner Mark Davis’s hot seat, and the belief is that, with year three having all along been the “realistic” target for visible progress in a massive rebuilding effort, another bad record could spell the end for this regime (that includes general manager Reggie McKenzie).

Quarterback Matt Schaub was signed to the Raiders and is expected to be the starter, but in the preseason it has been Matt McGloin who has looked like a potential starter even ahead of rookie Carr.

The quarterback position is one that has been inconsistent for the Raiders since Rich Gannon retired, but maybe Carr could be the future, now only time will tell.

“Now I am representing the Raider Nation and I am excited about it, it started back in March when I came here,” said Schaub.

The mobility that Schaub lacks can cause major trouble, as we have seen before. He crumbles and seems to get nervous when the pressure gets near him, rather than stepping up and evading the tacklers he seems to run right into the opponent’s arms.

It will be the offensive lines job to do work and anchor the offense, led by fourth year center Stefen Wisniewski and with key additions in Donald Penn and Austin Howard, things should improve after the line surrendered 44 total sacks in 2013.

“I am expecting it to look like we have been playing together for a while now,” said Wisniewski. “I am excited about all the veterans we added. A lot of talent added on the backside as well as the offensive line.”

The running game has also been improved by adding veteran running back who is a Bay Area native in Maurice Jones-Drew.

Jones-Drew and the resigning of Darren McFadden should provide some stability at the running back position and perhaps take the load off McFadden and perhaps prevent any injuries for the upcoming year.

“We added some really good players and veterans and you add Maurice Jones-Drew to the backfield and I think it will be huge for the running game also,” said Wisniewski.

Let’s not forget how tough the AFC West is, all four of the teams are in the top eight in the NFL in terms of strength of schedule.

The Raiders also hold the toughest schedule in 2014, with an opponent’s winning percentage of .578.

Beating Kansas City, San Diego and Denver twice in a year seems nearly unlikely for any team to do, but it would not be a surprise if the Raiders come away with a winning record against their division rivals for the upcoming season.

Let’s not get the silver and blacks’ hopes up just yet but the fact is that the 2014 Raiders are destined for more success than the previous two years, but the team will need to maintain a healthy and consistent core from their veteran acquisitions.

“I told the fans when I was practicing that this time when I play in the Black Hole I won’t get booed and I will be able to bring my family to the games cause I feel safer and being a part of it rather than being a visitor,” Woodley said about joining the silver and black.

We know injuries happen to every team, but how will the Raiders' depth pan out and who will step up if anybody goes down is a huge concern.

 

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