Oakland Raiders Offense: Believe the Hype!
John Doublin – Sep 9, 2011It's no secret that the Oakland Raiders' offense has been known as a "One-trick-pony" lately. A top-tier rushing attack with no legitimate passing game.
With the promotion of Hue Jackson from offensive coordinator to head coach, along with wholesale coaching changes, many in Raider Nation are feeling confident about the silver and black attack in 2011.
Is the optimism warranted?
The word from training camp has been that of new faces making big plays and coach Jackson expecting more from the veterans than at any time in recent history. There's a new "fire" permeating the team. Names like Derek Hagan and Denarius Moore are showing up on the blogs and in the chat rooms constantly.
Legends, Hall-Of-Famers and former Raider Nation favorites like Al Saunders, Rod Woodson and Steve Wisniewski have the best fan base in the game abuzz with praise and high hopes. Most fans feel these coaching changes are the missing link in championship chain.
Former wide receiver coach of the "Greatest Show on Turf" Al Saunders has been brought in to assume Jackson's offensive coordinator duties. Saunders brings with him more than 30 years of coaching experience. He will be asked to improve the sub-par wide receiver play the Raiders have experienced lately, as well as to continue his relationship with quarterback Jason Campbell that started when they were both in Washington with the Redskins.
One of the most glaring offensive weaknesses in the Raiders' game last year was pass protection. The responsibility for improving this aspect of the team has been put on the shoulders of two menâ€”Bob Wiley and Steve Wisniewski. Al Davis and the front office have given these men some solid young talent with which to work, but expectations are high. Hopefully for Raider fans, Wiley can improve the players' technique and "The Wiz" can show them what it means to play like a "True Raider." If these two are successful, and a couple of young players like legacy player Sefen-"Wiz 2.o"-Wisniewski, LSU tackle Joseph Barksdale and second year phenom Jared Veldheer can step up, this could wind up being one of the best, young offensive lines in the game.
These coaching changes are only part of the picture. Davis and the Raiders have added some explosive new weapons to help Campbell and the offense move the ball. Former Giant and Dolphin Derek Hagan has Raider fans rejoicing with his reliable hands and play-making ability. He showed very well in the preseason and looks to finally make a name for himself. Rookie Denarius Moore has made heads turn and caught the attention of veteran Raiders and coaches alike. If you add to that a healthy Chaz Schillens and the return of Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy, you have yourself a much improved receiving corps.
Losing tight end Zach Miller was a blow to be sure, but his replacement, former Giant Kevin Boss, will help offset the pain of losing the fan favorite. Boss is bigger, has equal hands, is a bit faster, but is a far superior blocker. Rookie draft picks Richard Gordon, converted wide receiver David Ausberry along with returning veteran Brandon Myers will all contribute to filling the void left by Miller.
Then there is the biggest strength of the Raider offenseâ€”the running backs. Darren McFadden was held out during the preseason to allow his broken orbital bone to heal, but is expected to be ready for opening day in Denver. Michael Bush looks strong and will continue to be the complimentary "hammer" to "D-Mac's" slashing style. The explosion of Eastern Washington rookie Taiwan Jones in the preseason gives the Raiders arguably the best three-man running back squad in the league. This group is so strong that Raider Nation is still trying to come up with a nickname that fully encompasses their abilities.
May I submit, "Dash, Smash and Gash?"
Overall, the naysayers will point to losing Miller as catastrophic to the offense, and the many coaching changes as being steps backwards. However, when you look deeper than the surface, you'll see these numerous changes as decidedly positive steps in the right direction. Assuming the injury bug doesn't bite, the 2011 Raiders' offense should be even better than the sixth-ranked scoring offense of 2010.
In other words, "Believe the Hype!"
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