As an East Bay "Sports Fanatic" the past year has been quite a high.
I pounded my drums at 75 games while the Oakland A's, powered by strong pitching and a resurgent Big Hurt, went to the ALCS.
"I Believed" and cheered for the Warriors as they, not only squeaked into the 8th seed, but, shocked the NBA World and the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Playoffs.
Now, I sit here with high anticipation for the Raiders first game of 2007.
There is a new regime in place that brings with it a new attitude. There is much promise in the air.
Every coach from the 2006 offense that managed a total of 12 touchdowns in 16 games is gone.
Tom Walsh and Art Shell have been replaced by a combo of Greg Knapp and Lane Kiffin.
Gone is the antiquated 5-7 step drop, man blocking scheme. In it's place is an offense that seems to be methodical and effective.
There are some that say preseason is meaningless, and I agree that it is pretty pointless for a team like the Colts who are bringing back most of their guys and mainly looking for some special teams additions and a back-up running back. But, for a team like the Raiders , it was necessary to erase the memories of last year and to gel the players that will now make up the team. There are 20 new players this year and two others, Michael Bush (PUP)and Dominic Rhodes (Suspended) that could unseat current roster spots.
Here are some things that I saw in preseason that have me excited:
Daunte Culpepper: I have written about Daunte more than any other player this year. There is a HUGE reason for that. In his last healthy season, he had the 5th best QB rating of All-Time!!! He threw for 4,717 yards, 39 TDs and was only picked 11 times. If it wasn't for Payton Manning having the BEST Season EVER by a QB, Daunte would have been the MVP.
Daunte looks healthy and he has a lot to prove, as well as a lot of money to make when he proves it.
The running game: This new zone blocking scheme has opened some HUGE holes this preseason and the backs have been running through them like Mack Trucks. Thank You Tom Cable.
I Think I'm going to term the running and blocking game, "The Cable Car Offense". The holes are so massive that you could fit a Cable Car through them.
Special Teams: Johnnie Lee Higgins looks like the second coming of "The Rocket", Raghib Ismail.
This super long link below is our punt return ranking for last season. We were second to last.
http://www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats?offensiveStatisticCategory=KICK_RETURNS&archive=true& seasonType=REG&defensiveStatisticCategory=null&d-447263-o=2&conference=null&d-447263 -s=PUNT_RETURNS_AVERAGE_YARDS&d-447263-n=1&season=2006&Submit=Find&tabSeq=2&role =TM&d-447263-p=1
On kick return average, we were the second best. That is without taking one the distance.
http://www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats;jsessionid=4AFBD942EA11A08B127F768C78DA93B5?offensiveStatisti cCategory=KICK_RETURNS&archive=true&seasonType=REG&defensiveStatisticCategory=null&d -447263-o=2&conference=null&d-447263-s=KICK_RETURNS_AVERAGE_YARDS&d-447263-n=1&seaso n=2006&Submit=Find&tabSeq=2&role=TM&d-447263-p=1
There is a reason why we kept Carr and drafted Johnnie "Stagger" Lee.
Look who's #1 in kick-off and #2 ( A Chris Johnson holding call away from being #1) in punt return average in the preseason.
http://www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats?offensiveStatisticCategory=KICK_RETURNS&archive=false& ;seasonType=PRE&defensiveStatisticCategory=null&d-447263-o=2&conference=null&d-44726 3-s=KICK_RETURNS_AVERAGE_YARDS&d-447263-n=1&season=2007&Submit=Find&tabSeq=2&rol e=TM&d-447263-p=1
With a ball control offense that concentrates on NOT turning the ball over or having negative plays, a strong defense and special teams will give you enough shots to score and will keep teams deep in their own area.
There are many more things that I am excited about, but I want to hear from you, Raider Nation. What are you excited about this year?