As we head into the meat of the 2013 preparation segment, here are a few important, random and, I hope, helpful thoughts as we excitedly over evaluate the Raiders. Presented in no particular order.
Dropped Passes - We'll have the same receivers so it'll be interesting to see how they handle passes from the new quarterback. I've got no beef with Carson Palmer, but the drops he suffered through with our young wideouts may simply be a Palmer thing. Timing, passing windows, trust and game situation all contribute to a QBs play, especially a veteran like Palmer. I could see these intangibles making a difference in 2013 as our new QB will most likely be far too conservative to force passes and tempt fate like Palmer would. This means Moore, Ford, Streater, Criner and the rest will only be getting targeted when they're wide open. This should lead to fewer frustrating drops...even if it also leads to more three and outs because our QBs will be full-on game managers for us. Moore was sensational with Jason Campbell throwing the rock and showed fantastic hands. Palmer loved throwing to the guy. A little too much if you ask me; to the point where he was forcing passes to #17 and all of the problems that come with that. I'm just saying quarterbacking might have more to do with our WRs dropping passes than we've been acknowledging and new QBs this year might change that.
Fumbles - I'm sick of reading about all the caveats and disclaimers with Darren McFadden. We know who he is and what he can do and that ain't changing in 2013. I think it's important to keep in mind how much our favorite Razorback running back likes to fumble. To his credit, McFadden hasn't Earnest Byner'd us and fumbled away a close game at the end, but the facts remain. McFadden is going to miss starts and put the ball on the turf in 2013, like he has throughout his career. We need to prepare ourselves for this eventuality. He's got Eric Dickerson potential...still...heading into his 6th season.
Sio Moore - I'm big on this guy becoming an anchor for our defense. I think Nick Roach will be the biggest impact free agent, followed closely by Woodson, but I expect Moore to show us that he can be a weapon. Rather than peg him as a Von Miller for our defense (he would've been drafted a lot sooner if Moore had Miller's ability) I'm aiming a little lower and with a little more realism in mind. Moore just needs to be Philip Wheeler. If he can match Wheeler's playmaking and all around ability at the outside linebacker spot, that would be a hell of a rookie season and a lot to build on. We couldn't fix all of our personnel holes this offseason and clearly D Line is going to have to be addressed another time, but the LB corps should be a strength if Roach and Moore play like I expect them to play.
The Dumpoff - Our passing offense is going to feature a lot of checkdowns as our WRs are still raw route runners. I would love to see Streater step into the #1 WR role in his second year and improve is ability to get open, but if he and Moore can't do it that means a lot of passes to Marcel Reece and Darren McFadden. And reading that sentence should flick a light bulb over your head because those two are our best, most veteran players on offense. That's who we should be getting the ball to anyway. If Olson can design plays to those guys as well as make them dangerous second and third options when a play is supposed to go downfield, we can actually be in good shape on offense. I don't expect us to be explosive to the outside because our QBs just don't have arms like that. However accurate shorter passes to McFadden and Reece can exploit some great mismatches against most defenses we'll see this year. Pittsburgh is the only defense with the talent at LB and S to really matchup with our strengths and for some reason we have their number....the same way Miami has ours. So shorter completions to our two best playmakers shouldn't be seen as a disappointment.
Love to hear your thoughts below and BRING ON THE COLTS!