There are so many changes this offseason for me, that I would have to take the unknown and spin it in a more positive spectrum. Levi just did a great job breaking down each position and comparing it to last season, but I thought I would give it a go from an illogical fan such as myself, while listening to the greatest band of all time called Tool, on why the Raiders are going to rain down fires of justice upon all the infidels.
"Coaching motherf***er, can you do it?"
The biggest thing of all. You can give me the team from last year, but please.... oh holy deity of the universe please just improve the coaching staff! And with good fortune, the coaching staff has been improved.
Knapp has been tossed to the void, and Allen/McKenzie hires (for I think both work together here. One does not simply make decisions without the other's opinion or consent on it) Greg Olsen in his place. Olsen doesn't have any shoes to fill in here, for Knapp might as well be shoeless with his ineptitude. What Olsen brings to the table is the fact that he is tailoring the offense to our talent. Knapp tried to solve our problems by banging a hammer on the playbook, which in my opinion, doesn't help fix anything. McFadden has went on record saying that he is really excited for our offense, and coming from our best offensive talent is saying a lot, especially with what happened last year (optimism would have been hard to come by wouldn't it?). With Olsen here, we can expect a return to the power blocking scheme, Reece and McFadden playing a bigger role in the offense, smarter playcalling, more diverse playcalling, and perhaps some actual packages with Pryor are in order.
Than we can't forget special teams here with the ever awesome Bobby April. Remember special teams last year? Yeah me neither. I thought we lost it in the underworld with Hades. however, with April, I have a great assurance that we will have new life on the special teams unit. From what I read previously from Levi earlier in the offseason, April is considered one of the more well-respected special teams coaches in the NFL. If it wasn't early in the morning, I'd link you his article, but maybe I will do it later. Take my word for it though, that April will do some healthy wonders to my health when I don't have a stressing heart attack getting angry at our special teams unit.
OL I heard was a big problem last year. In comes perhaps the best addition to our coaching staff: Tony Sporano, who has a repertoire under his belt as a very good OL coach, and not so much offensive coordinator. OL seems to thrive when under Sporano's direction, and we have a relatively young OL group who are sure to get better under his guidance.
And I should mention Dennis Allen. Yeah, not many people like him here, but he was a rookie head coach inheriting a really bad team working with a bad offensive coach as well. I'm willing to cut him a little slack in his first year. This is more of a hopeful standpoint, where I think him coaching discipline on this team will do wonders for us for our future. He is entering in his second year as a head coach, and at this point I hope his philosophy works out in the end for us. But the experience I hope is sure to help.
"Oh hai secondary! Let's play catch with a football in suits!"
We may actually have a secondary this year. I say again, we may actually have a secondary this year.
Well, to be fair it's hard not to improve upon it from last year, but still it's worth noting. We got a couple of average CBs in Jenkins and Porter, who both could be more than adequate for us, and we drafted a insanely insane, amazingly amazing CB in DJ Hayden (potentially). And what's more, is that Branch has a fellow companion at the other side of the field with the well known and very popular Charles Woodson!
Woodson is arguably the best addition to this year's defense. He brings a great veteran presence, smarts, intangibles, and above all he has shown that he can still play. We need a ball hawking safety that can help cover deep while Branch takes care of the TEs, and we could have that in Woodson (I hope he is ball hawkingly awesome!). And Adams and Hanson have shown to be reliable at the slot CB position too. So we have some depth here.
"Waaaaater sucks! It really really sucks!"
That is the sound Adam Sandler heard before he destroyed every waking human being in his path. Something I hope our LB core can do as well.
People are really high on Roach, but I'm not sure how he'll do. But wait.. is he better than McLame, I mean McClain (no it's McLame I'm sure...)? You bet your sweet potatoes he is. Hard not to be really.
Burris is entering his second year, and I have high hopes for him after his play last year as a rookie LB. Kevin Burnett is a solid OLB from the dolphins, and Maiava is the little guy who plays like a big guy, while Sio Moore is looking to bring the ferocity that T-Rex's say "fuck that" and runs away. This could be the most talented LB core we have had in years, and good ole' Tarver must salivate at the sub packages and formations he can use with these guys.
"Have you ever danced with the RBs in the pale moon light?"
I will be assuming that our running game will be the center of our offense. Probably not a stretch here. I have a real good reason why I am excited for this year's group, and the potential it brings. McFadden will now be running in the power scheme, and the only thing that will stop him is injuries. However, even if he gets injured, we have a solid depth at RB where our running game should be more than adequate. Jennings is a powerful RB who can be a starter, rookie Latavius Murray has really good potential as at least a change of pace RB (who can catch as well!, and Stewart did pretty well in preseason last year as well. Plus Reece has shown to be capable as a starting RB when we need him. Point is, our depth is better, and we have potential to be the best running team in the NFL again.
These are perhaps the best positive additions to our team that I believe will help bring the Oakland Raiders playoff bound in a few years. I really believe this. McKenzie has so far done a tremendous job so far in getting this team back into shape. Like trying to lose weight, it's going to be like hell at first, but in the end you'll come out feeling great.
And our cap space next year..... next offseason is going to be EPIC.