Five Things Raider Nation Needs To Keep an "Eye" On.

Terrell White – Sep 1, 2012

Holla At Me Raider Nation!
I don't know about you brothers, and sister but I'm glad that pre-seaon football is done. Mentally I just can't get excited about these pre-season games. 

They're like the calm before the storm; or a simulation before actual combat.

Speaking of combat:

Here are 5 things that Raider Nation needs to remember before the actual battle begins. 

1) Dennis Allen is a rookie head coach.

Make no mistake, I like what I've seen from Dennis Allen, and the Raiders thus far. However, the truth of the matter is that he's yet to make a decision in a game that really matters. We have not seen how Allen plans on truly managing a game; how he plans on implementing his half time adjustments, ect, ect.

Raider Nation isn't really going to know for sure if Dennis Allen has got balls made of brass or balls made out of clay until people start shooting at us with live ammo. Furthermore, Raider Nation knows that a rookie head coach has a lot more to deal with then just X's & O's, or wins & lossess.

However, it's not like Raider Nation isn't familliar with having a head coach with no head coaching experiece. We've been down this road before: Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable, Hue Jackson, and so on, and so on.

Futhermore, Raider Nation needs to remember that unless your name is Barry Switzer (Cowboys), George Seifert (49ers), or Don McCafferty (Colts) and/or you're coaching a team that was already built, rookie head coaches don't win NFL championships. 

Hell, rookie head coaches have a hard time just winning baby! Look at two future hall of fame coaches: Bill Parcells went 3-12 and Bill Belichick went 5-11 in their first year as head coach.

2) The Defensive Secondary is a work in progress.

The saying goes "Defense wins championships." Well if that's the case we're going to need a stellar performance from our questionable defensive secondary.

With that said, I'm STILL glad that both Stanford Routt, and Chris Johnson are not just going - but are GONE! Oakland will now be depending on two sets of different corners. One set of corners includes players drafted by the team; While the other includes players that we picked up, and are hopeful that they've fully recovered from the injuries that got them released in the first place.

Dealing with the latter first; we will be looking to see if Ron Bartell has fully healed from the neck injury, (a la Payton Manning) that he suffered while playing for the Rams. Opposite Bartell we will be looking to see if former 49er Shawntae Spencer can return to the form he showed before suffering a season ending knee injury.

While Bartell and Spencer will provide the Raiders with some needed depth and experience, my hope is that the players we drafted last season will get to see more playing time, and develop into the next dominate tandem of Raider defensive backs (see Mike Haynes / Lester Hayes for more info).

Both Chimidi Chekwa, and DeMarcus Van Dyke are in their second year with the team. What this means is: Their technique should be a little better. Their confidence should be a little higher. Last but not least it means: no more rookie mistakes!

Chekwa, and Van Dyke should be more mentally and physically prepared to face not only the wide outs in the AFC West, but NFL receivers in general.

Despite the fact that Oakland's defense plans on using a variety of schemes, I still expect to see the Raiders "man up", from time to time and look to physically out play the person across the line from them. With that in mind I'd love to see Chekwa and Van Dyke step up, make some plays and take some pressure off of not only the Raider defense, but the Raider offense as well. 

/articleimages/raiders-schedule.jpg3) The Raiders always end up with a tough schedule.

As many of you already know, I tend to break the 16 game season down into four segments. Games one thru four make up one section. Games two thru eight make up another section; Until we get to the last section of four, which would be made up of games 13 thru 16.

In each section the Raiders have at least 2 games in which they are going to face a very tough opponet, and should be in for a fight!

In the first section, week three we will be visited by the Pittsburg Steelers; Only to have the team travel the very next week to play Payton Manning in Denver.

After a bye week, that comes much too early, in the season the next section of games has Oakland playing on the road (in some tough places).

We will travel to Atlanta and play the, (should be playoff-bound) Falcons. The Raiders will also travel and play an improved, (thanks to players returning from injury, and not the former Raiders) Kansas City Chiefs team.

The third section of games finds Oakland still on the road, playing tough games. The team will face the Ravens in Baltimore as well as seeing Carson Palmer visit his old team, when the Raiders travel to Cincinnati.

The final section of games, (when Oakland could be fighting for its division, as well as for the playoffs) finds the Raiders playing some important home games.

We will play against Denver one week and Kansas City the next. After facing two division foes in Oakland the Raiders will be on the road the last two weeks of the season; We face Cam Newton and the Panthers before ending the season, as it started in a game against San Diego.

As always, the Oakland Raiders schedule is going to test the team in all aspects of the game. 

4) Oakland's starting backfield - Accept No Substitutes!

a) Carson Palmer:

First I have to say that I've got nothing against Carson Palmer. With that said, I have to now say that I personally liked Jason Campbell, and thought that he was a good quarterback for our team. I'm quite sure that if Oakland had not (panicked?) made the trade for Carson Palmer, that Jason Campbell would be fully healed by now, and ready to resume his role as starting quarterback in Oakland. (Tell me that you won't be keeping an eye on how Jason does in Chicago?)

With Campbell at quarterback I felt that Oakland was undoubtedly a playoff team. Carson Palmer is really going to need to take this team to a super bowl win (before he's done in Oakland) in order for EVERYONE to be satisfied with the trade that bought him to the Raiders.

Matt Leinart is a band-aid at best. Terrelle Pryor needs a bit more time in the oven before he's ready to serve; All this means that a great deal is riding on the arm of Carson Palmer this season.

The same could be said for the legs of...

b) Darren McFadden

The Raiders best plan B - Mike Bush is now in Chicago (along with former starting quarterback Jason Campbell). Hey, it was a "steal" when we got Mike Bush in the first place. As usual the Raiders stepped up, and took a chance on a player that other teams were shying away from; Right now the fact that Mike Bush was coming off of an injury before we drafted him is a distant memory.

However, as great as Mike Bush was - he's no Darren McFadden. Furthermore, no matter how good the collection of talent is that Oakland has brought in, they don't even equate to a Mike Bush; Therefore, we can forget about them equaling a Darren McFadden.

Should anything happen to McFadden (again) Raider Nation could be looking at a very black, with no silver lining situation. Leaving Raider fans, and players hoping that some how, some way the sum of the parts can find a way to be greater then their whole.                  

5) Keep your Raider eye on these replacement refs.

Time for some Real Talk. As far as I'm concerned the NFL powers that be have no intention of paying the regular refs. The way I see it, the only way the NFL would even consider their demands is IF the replacement refs totally blow calls during the season opener, and end up costing teams games; NFL fans aren't going to allow replacement refs to cause their teams to lose games without a MAJOR fight!

However, I don't see this happening. There's a reason why EVERY score and turnover is now reviewed by instant replay. "They" want to control, and minimize the havoc that these inexperienced referees could potentially wreak. 

/articleimages/instant-replay-officials.jpgThis is (In my view) only the begining to the end of NFL officiating as we knew it. I personally believe that the use of the instant replay system is going to become more expansive, and prevalent. Moreover, as time passes instant replay will be the regular referee for the NFL.

The system isn't perfected however, so what that means is: Mistakes WILL be made. Moreover, mistakes will be tolerated (by the NFL); Let's just hope that the Raiders aren't on the wrong side of things (again). 

Raider From Birth.

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