Okay, okay I know, it is too early to talk about how the 2010 Raiders are going to turn it around. That's not where I'm going with this, though, so bear with me...please.
What I mean is that this team now has real-life starters. It's not like the plug-and-play players that Oakland has had in the past. You can actually look at the team and say, "Ok, who will be starting in 2010?"
Kicker: Sebastian Janikowski
Punter: Shane Lechler
Strong safety: Tyvon Branch
Cornerback: Nnamdi Asomugha
Defensive End: Richard Seymour
Defensive End: Matt Shaughnessy
Defensive Tackle: Tommy Kelly
Outside Linebacker: Trevor Scott
Left tackle: Mario Henderson
Left Guard: Robert Gallery
Wide Receiver: Chaz Schilens
Tight End: Zach Miller
Running Back: Michael Bush/Darren McFadden
Okay, sure there are some open ends still, but I'm not sure you could look at this team this early a year ago and say, "Hey, we know more than half of the starters we will have for next year."
This, my friends, is called progress. I don't care what anybody says about wins and losses.
You could probably throw in the idea that we could figure out more "potential starters" also, like the other wide receiver will be either Darrius Heyward-Bey or Louis Murphy. Let’s also add FS Michael Huff.
The quarterback will most likely be either JaMarcus Russell or Bruce Gradkowski, depending on how Radkowski does in the off season. So far, he has a strong lead heading into the draft period, barring any trade for Donovan McNabb. The main point is that the likely starter is already on the roster.
Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard could also factor into the equation, although they are currently both free agents this offseason. Don't think that Al Davis won't re-sign both players either. Look no farther than Shane Lechler, Nnamdi Asomugha, Richard Seymour, and Sebass for an example.
And I'm guessing that Kirk Morrison might be traded for that third round pick, but at present there are no movements in any RFA markets.
This is part of the reason why I wanted to keep the coaching staff here too. Consistency; that is what it's all about...a new coaching staff would’ve caused more turn over because the current players would’ve not fit their system. Right now, these guys are developing good chemistry and learning to be a team. A new staff would’ve uprooted everything they’ve worked for.
People consider the Pittsburgh Steelers to be a historically great team. Pittsburgh has had three head coaches since the 70's. So few, in fact, that Raiders fans from across the country, in California, can most likely name all three. Six Super Bowl championship rings, the most in league history produced by three coaches.
Oakland tight end Zach Miller has had three coaches in three professional years.
The Philadelphia Eagles have had six NFC Championship appearances in ten years. They have had the same QB and coach combination since 1999. They are a team, and they have good chemistry.
The Tennessee Titans have had the same coach since they were in Houston as the Oilers. They are considered in the top teams of the league year in and year out.
New England has had the same regime since 2000, even though Belichick's first year they went 5-11. The next year they drafted Richard Seymour, and we saw the emergence of Tom Brady. The rest is history, what was their run, three SB rings in five years, and they followed it up with a perfect season...well nearly perfect.
Look, in short, all that I'm saying is that Raider Nation needs to recognize when they are in the face of progress and not revert to the same community that is going to take seven bad seasons out on fourteen or more starters, many of whom are new to the team, or only in their second or third year.
I can see the progress. Can you look past the bad and see through the storm clouds?
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