Back on September 10th, I sat and wondered what the season would hold for the Oakland Raiders. We were all ridding on a positive wave of change and at the very least most of us were cautiously optimistic. At that point, I tried to sort out my expectations.
I decided then, that this season was going to be less about wins and losses then it was about progress. My whole thing all season has been to focus on change and improvement, more than the actual outcomes of games.
This outlook served me well for the up and down first six games of the season. Then came along a three game winning streak and that positive wave of change has now grown into a tsunami of grandeur. I am getting greedy. I want the division!
Still, the Raiders will have an uphill battle if they plan on taking the division. They have, by far, the toughest schedule of the AFC West contenders. Win or lose the division though, my original expectations remain and this is ultimately the criteria I am going to use to judge this season.
Looking at my expectations now...so far, so good. Check out the original thread to see everyone else's expectations.
Jump over for my September 10 hopes for the 2010 Raiders. Also, comment on how the team is meeting your expectations and if they have changed them. Sons poll below, shows that expectations on the record raising as a whole about two wins. The Raiders only need one more win to hit the over/under Vegas had for them before the year started.
A team that brings it's best effort every week. That would be a big check. The season got off to an auspicious start, but since then this team has clearly brought the effort every week.
Defensive improvement in awareness and discipline. I imagine there will be some rough spots. Some residue of yard hemorrhaging, but as the year goes, I want an opponents big play to become more of an oddity that a regularity. --That would be another check. Still, this is an area that needs to be improved--most notably in redzone pass defense--but this is a defense that is making teams earn their points.
A defense, by the end of the year, that is a legitimate NFL run defense. --Check. The run defense seems to be getting better by the week.
The rookies progressing. Most importantly, I want to know by the end of the year that Rolando McClain is going to be the answer at MLB for years to come. --Check. I like the progression I have seen from Ro. I am not yet ready to say that I absolutely know this, but as long as he stays on the track he is on, then I will. LaMarr is improving weekly as well. His ability to hold the edge against the other teams rush is making a big difference.
I want Veldheer to improve every game. I want to see flashes of him being physically dominant, while learining the tricks of the trade. I want to see a ripple effect on the whole line as Veldheer's play improves. --Super check plus on this one.
DHB to show he is a legit NFL WR. I want the rate of growth, that he has shown this off-season, to continue in the season. I want to see that he can make a mistake and bounce back and by the end of the year, I want to know that he is a threat. --This one gets a small check. He is improving and looks way better than last year, but I want more.
A team that at the end of the year, no team in the NFL looks forward to playing. I want the Raiders to form an identity of a hard hitting defensive team that you may be able to knock over but never out. --This gets the most emphatic check on the list. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this team to be able to overcome things like they did in the KC game and still win.
I expect this team's kickers to stop sucking! (Just seeing if you are still paying attention.) --No more missed game winners Seabass!
- Most importantly, I expect to see a team that is better at the end of the year than it is at the start. A team that makes all the Raiders jokes a thing of the past. A team that shuts up that fat-ass Warren Sapp and has people calling in to tell him to eat shit about all his anti Al Davis quotes. Actually, I want to be one of those people that calls in to tell him to eat shit. --Check plus. Warren Sapp will not accept my calls.
This team is progressing faster than I hoped. They have pretty much already accomplished everything I had hoped they would. It is tempting to tie in my ultimate satisfaction with the season in the record, but I am not going to do that.
They have a challenging schedule. And this just seems to be one of those injury riddled years, where fans are left endlessly waiting for their team to get healthy. I am still hesitant to tie any expectations to the record. I just want the quality play to continue. No steps back and I will be happy.
That being said, here are some extra credit expectations:
The Redzone: I think this redzone offense can be better. They are currently 23rd in redzone TD conversion percentage. I thing the Raiders have room to improve in QB decision making and power running sets. I love Marcel Reece, but he is not a power blocker. What happened to the LaMarr Houston lead blocking experiment? Maybe try Daniel Loper.
Defensively, the lapses that leave WRs uncovered need to disappear. Tighten up the zone coverage that the team likes to use when in the redzone.
DHB: He had a breakout game in Week 8 and he was poised to make some big plays in Week 9, but he was overthrown. I want less drops and a couple more big plays.
QB play: The offensive line is not a pass blocking juggernaut, but it is better than it was and better than most had hoped. The QB play needs to gain consistency. Whoever the QB is. Campbell needs to stop missing easy throws and Grad needs to stop trying to run over safeties. The decision making for both QBs needs to improve, especially in the redzone. Both QB's have missed too many reads in the redzone.
A reduction in Penalties: This team is getting a lot of penalties, even for the Raiders. I'll settle for just an improvement to bad from the current level of God-freaking-awful.
Rooks and Sophomores: Keep it up. It is proving to be a very stellar two years worth of draft picks. Look at the class of 09:
2nd: Mike Mitchell
3rd: Matt Shaughnessy
4th: Louis Murphy
4th: Slade Norris
6th: Stryker Sulak
6th: Brandon Meyers
UDFAs: Des Bryant and Nick Miller
Only two of these draft picks are not contributing and one of those was a 6th rounder--they aren't really supposed to contribute in the first place. DHB still is proving to be a reach, but everyone else you can say is performing at or above their expectation level. Throw in the fact that the Raiders are getting contributions from two undrafted players and holy crap, this is an amazingly successful draft. Draft Classes like the last two are how you build a consistent winner in this league.