Last season doesn’t really deserve an exit blog post. That is why you won’t find one on this blog. It’s also cause I’ve spent the last year raising teenagers. Thus, this is probably the least I’ve written about the Raiders over the last five years. Time to make up for lost time before the Raiders officially welcome fans to Allegiant for Monday Night Football..
Insert your favorite failed milk carton challenge and that’s what last year feels like for Raider Nation. The Raiders headed towards the right direction despite us all knowing it was built on a crooked foundation.
They reset the team pretty hard after a 6-3 start resulted in another missed playoff attempt. Many thought that would finally mean a new quarterback. Sike. Derek Carr is still leading the helm. At one point, they were even talking about extending dude. It’s not bad given the Lions got two first-rounders for Matt Stafford. AKA there was a premium even on solid-good quarterbacks.
This time the offensive line took the blame. Gone is staple Gabe Jackson. Trent Brown, once a marquee free agency acquisition, shipped for greener New England Pastures. Rodney Hudson is out of here too. Watch Hudson and Jackson both fill missing pieces for their respective NFC West teams. Davontae Booker and Nelson Agoholor are not returning on offense and that hurt a bit. Both were real bargains turned bright spots. It’s not surprising they left for more money and better opportunities.
Last season, our secondary never came along. The young players like Arnette and Abrams struggled along with many others. At least, Erik Harris and LaMarcus Joyner finally left the Silver and Black behind. Daryl Worley is gone too. Nevin Lawson is finally out as of the preseason. We were tired of seeing them in other team’s highlights.
Jeff Heath surprisingly got his walking papers. Despite getting picks, he was let go. Fellow former Cowboys Maliek Collins was not brought back. Raekwon McMillan, Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley never did much for the Raiders so they are out too. No use crying over spoiled defenders.
Arden Key and Mo Collins joined the 49ers after the Raiders wouldn’t even give them a shot to compete for a job. It’s ok because they underperformed but it was not that long ago we thought they would be still. Sorry to Reggie McKenzie’s draft picks. Derek Carr is the best one left.
Jon Gruden went out and hired one of the best defensive coordinators, Gus Bradley, to make this unit competent. He wasted no time putting together a new defense. Yannick Ngakoue joined as the marquee pass rush signing, despite all his previous Raiders trolling. Quinton Jefferson came from the Bills as a cap casualty. Soloman Thomas is a redemption project. The former top-five pick is still trying to stay healthy mentally and physically as he ascends in the league. Johnathan Hankins was brought back as the run stuffer.
Darius Philon was out the league but he is back with Bradley, his DC from the Raiders day. At least, David Irving is gone…
Safeties Trevon Moehring and Tyree Gillespie were added as good values in the draft. Rasul Douglas and Casey Hayward were added as vet corners to compete. Douglas didn’t make the roster. Karl Joseph came back after a really good year in Cleveland. It was surprising how cheap too.
On offense, their best signing was backup running back Kenyan Drake. The Raiders got a lot of flack for the signing since they were already good in the backfield. At least, Drake and Jacobs are good friends and know how to work together.
The team also drafted a right tackle with their first pick. Many people saw Alex Leatherwood as a developmental tackle taken too high. Many people, including me, thought the same thing about Kolton Miller but we were wrong. Either way, the tackles taken above Leatherwood are both banged up right now. Not a bad pick after all?
Otherwise, the team tried to replace Agoholor with John Brown. Brown asked for his releases after not being happy with his role. They also added veteran Willie Snead for some veteran presence and junk work. Zay Jones was brought back. It’s not the huge moves Raiders fans hoped for but they really believe in Hunter Renefrow, Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs III taking the next step. Cough, if you have three, you have no alpha. Either way, I think Snead is a versatile backup who fits the group. Jones and Carr get along well. The young guys hopefully take the next step developing as consistent starters.
Anyways, Denzelle Good is also back. He saved us in many OL crunches. Shoutout Khail Barnes! Andre James is also getting a lot of hype as Hudson’s replacement. Free-agent signee Nick Martin was supposed to push him in camp but I do not think that happened. There’s been a lot of talk about Andre James’ chemistry with Derek Carr this camp. Patrick Omameh and Richie Incognito are back. Incognito is already banged up and Omameh has never been more than depth. Omameh didn’t even make last roster cut. Hopefully, Jon Simpson can take the next step so we don’t rely on them.
Oh, Marcus Mariota also came back. The Raiders may trade him before the year ends or they put in a package just for him. They could use him like Baltimore used RGIII in spots or how the Saints used Hill in gadget formations.
Once again, this draft could be defined by who the Raiders did not take. They kept the status quo at receiver and quarterback despite the blog-o-sphere hating it. They drafted more offensive linemen and defensive backs because their track record with developing those players is bad the past decade. Sorry Tanner Muse, another wasted third round pick. Muse should fit in Seattle though. Time will tell how we remember the 2021 class but the Raiders need Leatherwood to dominate instantly if they want to have a shot at the playoffs.
Speaking of hope, the Raiders have some for the first time in a bit. Allegiant Stadium and the practice facility in Henderson are state-of-the-art. Hopefully, their A.C.s are too with that Vegas heat. LOL.
Right now, tickets in the blackhole are selling like at over $700 each. It’s a few hundred dollars just to get in the seats. Raiders Fans have been to games at Allegiant but imagine the playoffs? Hope we can all afford to make the trip. I’d hate to see the stadium gentrified with corporate betting sponsors and not Raiders fans. Well, I guess it’s better than shit on your feet from overflooded toilets when you’re peeing at halftime.
Speaking of new stadiums, SoFI is everything good and bad that you heard. Yes, there’s traffic and it’s also the best football viewing experience I have ever felt. Corporate sponsorships are everywhere but that place was packed with Raiders fans when I went to watch us play the Rams. It’s definitely worth going to, especially when the Raiders play the Chargers on Monday night. Catch me in section 211.
In Kansas City, the Raiders hold confidence as they nearly beat the Chiefs twice last year. However, that team should be just as good. Meanwhile, the rest of the Raiders’ AFC Rivals got better.
As for the rest of the AFC West, the Chargers do actually look good. I caught a few of their practices since I live in L.A. Justin Herbert might be the best quarterback in the AFC West, not named Pat Mahomes. The defense should also get healthy but to to be determined.
The Broncos added Teddy Bridgewater which should make them legit. Their defense also gets Von Miller back. Bridgewater with those weapons will be decent at the least.
Thus, the Raiders can’t just pencil in four division wins. They are going to win. If they don’t it should cost Jon Gruden his head. The coordinators and roster took the fall the past two years. It’s Gruden who should next if the Raiders can’t bring a playoff game to Vegas this year.
Those are high expectations but they come with having the most tenured quarterback and highest-paid coach in the division. If all you need was a defense, Bradley and the new additions should solve that… Right?
Something In the Water
You’ll notice I left Denzel Perryman and Gerald McCoy out of the acquisition segment. Why?
I wanted McCoy five years ago and Perryman two years ago if not when they came in the league. They always had the athleticism and chip on their shoulders to be Raiders.
Unfortunately, McCoy is off an injury. He joined the team late so he must have some juice left if they liked his workout? Or, they have no confidence in all the defensive line help they enlisted in free agency. It just felt weird.
Same for Perryman. They could’ve signed him this year or last. How did he not win a job in Carolina? The Raiders have invested in free agency and drafted the position in the past years. Usually, I go for adding veteran leadership and seeing what a player can bring.
Except for this time it feels like Vegas must not feel like they have enough if they traded for Perryman this late and flirted with K.J. Wright. They brought in Wright after final roster cuts. We will see what these guys have left when they have to chase LaMar and those AFC West Tight Ends.
I get Gus Bradley wants guys he knows, who also know his scheme. However, do you go back to your thing from two or three years ago if you got a better one five years younger? Hell Nah…
Guess we will find out in Week One
The Ravens come to Vegas and it will be a real test for the Raiders. Baltimore and the Raiders usually end in a dramatic fashion. This one shouldn’t be different. Lamar Jackson is a God and they added Sammy Watkins and Rashod Bateman to give him more weapons. Bateman got hurt but Hollywood Brown should be back. Good tests for the Raiders improved secondary and pass rush.
Baltimore also features veterans across the offensive and defensive line. Our revamped units will have a real tough matchup. The Ravens’ biggest test includes figuring out their own pass rush on the edge.
Oh yeah, Marcus Peters also comes to town. Although it’s not his town, you know he always has extra gear for the team he grew up loving. Let’s see if he can pick off Derek Carr and take one to Vegas’ end zone for Oakland. I’d hate and love to see that for the town. (Tear I wrote this before he got hurt! Prayers for Peters for real.)
The Ravens also had several injuries in their running back room. Their top-two runners both went down with injuries. They signed former Raiders runner Latavius Murray after dude refused to take a paycut in New Orleans. Murray has been solid since leaving the Raiders for shared roles in Minnesota and New Orleans. It looks like the Tay Train will make a stop in Vegas only a few weeks after the Raiders thought about signing him.
As long as the Silver and Black come out flying around and running the ball, they should be able to win Week One. Many bettors are calling Vegas a lot but Raiders fans know better than to get excited about that. The opening game usually comes down to heart, excitement and execution as many teams are far from finished products.
Either way, it could be a nice statement win to show the AFC that the Raiders can take down playoff contenders. All eyes will be on Gruden and the Raiders Monday Night as they start their quest to finally make the playoffs under their legendary coach.
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