Training camp is in the books. The preseason is at the halfway point. And the 2018 season fast approaches. With what we’ve seen from this team so far, there is plenty to be excited about. Here are the top five.
1. Return of Chucky
The return of Jon Gruden to the sideline is easily the most exciting new development. Gruden was beloved as Raiders head coach from 1998-2001. He took the Raiders to heights they hadn’t seen since their Super Bowl teams in the 80s and heights the franchise hasn’t seen since they lost to his Buccaneers team ripped out their hearts in the Super Bowl the year after he was traded. He was excited to be back on the sideline in Oakland in the preseason opener on August 10 and he is going to out of his mind excited to open at home on Monday Night Football against the Rams. That crowd is going to share his excitement.
2. New energy
A common question I have gotten asked is what has been the difference between this year’s training camp and the past three years under Jack Del Rio. My response is always ‘Energy’. And I don’t mean the players are drinking Red Bulls or something. I mean there is a different energy. They are genuinely having a good time and are excited each day to compete. They embody the spirit of their head coach.
3. Derek Carr’s resurgence
It’s not an automatic that Derek Carr is going to come firing out the gate with Gruden at the helm. After all, Derek’s best season was his only season with the same OC two years in a row (Bill Musgrave). Each time he’s had a new coordinator, he’s taken some time to find his groove. There’s a chance he could find his groove right away based on how quickly he appears to have picked up on Gruden’s offense and how well he has orchestrated it in practice. But whether he has instant success or not, we’re here to see how he progresses as Gruden’s ‘robot’ on the field.
4. Beast Mode
Over the second half of last season Marshawn Lynch averaged 4.6 yards per carry. He found his footing and thus earned the second season of his two-year deal. Though there’s always a possibility he could continue playing after this season, it’s very likely this is his final NFL season. You can bet he won’t be going gently into that goodnight. He will go out in full Beast Mode to the last snap.
5. Guenther influence on stagnant D
You would have thought under a defensive head coach in Jack Del Rio that would be the one area that they would play well. But the defense was a mess. Even with the Defensive Player of the Year, it was terrible. Much of that can be attributed to the poor job Ken Norton Jr was doing as Defensive Coordinator. Sometimes it isn’t the players that are the problem, but rather the coaching and the scheme. Many of the players on this defense have played better elsewhere. That goes for the slew of drafted players who underachieved. There is excitement to see if Guenther can get the best from his defensive players.