Wednesday, August 5, 2015

2015 NFL PREVIEW - Oakland Raiders

OAKLAND RAIDERS                                                 

2014 Record: 3-13-0  (4th in AFC West)

HEAD COACH: Jack Del Rio

New Players in 2015 - QB Christian Ponder; WR Michael Crabtree; RB Trent Richardson; RB Roy Helu, Jr.; OL Rodney Hudson; DB Nate Allen; LB Curtis Lofton; LB Malcolm Smith; DL Dan Williams.

OFFENSIVE RANK in 2014 - 32nd in NFL (282.2 ypg)

DEFENSIVE RANK in 2014 - 21st in NFL (357.6 ypg)

Offense: After a strong finish last year, Derek Carr (3,270 passing yards with 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions) will be penciled in as the starting quarterback this season. Backing him up will be free agent Christian Ponder and Matt McGloin.
The running game will have Latavius Murray (424 yards with a 5.2 ypc average and two TD) as the starter. Backing up are Trent Richardson (519, 3.3 ypc and three TD with Indy) and Roy Helu, Jr. who ran for 216 yards with a 5.4 ypc average with the Washington Redskins last year.
The receiving corps will be led by Rod Streater, who is coming off an injury filled season in which he caught just nine passes with one score and top rookie draft pick Amari Cooper (Alabama) who appears to have all the tools to step right in as a starter for the Raiders. The tight end is Mychal Rivera, who made 58 receptions for 534 yards and four touchdowns.
Other receivers and tight ends in the mix for Oakland this season include free agent Michael Crabtree (68, 698, four TD with San Francisco) Kenbrell Thompkins (15 catches for 209 yards), Andre Holmes (47, 693, four TD) and possibly rookie TE Clive Walford (Miami, FL).
The O-Line has center Rodney Hudson, guards Gabe Jackson and Austin Howard and tackles Donald Penn and Khalif Barnes.

Defense:  The Raiders will have rookie Mario Edwards, Jr. (Florida State) starting at defensive end along with 11-year veteran Justin Tuck (five QB sacks) while Dan Williams and Stacy McGee will be the tackles in the 4-3 set.
The linebackers are Khalil Mack (four sacks) and Sio Moore on the outside while Curtis Lofton was signed as a free agent and will likely man the middle. Another free agent linebacker coming over is Malcolm Smith to provide depth.
The secondary is led by the ageless Charles Woodson, who is entering his 18th NFL season and led the Raiders with four interceptions last season. Along with free agent Will Allen, he will form the safety tandem while DJ Hayden and T.J. Carrie play the corner spots.

OUTLOOK FOR 2015 - The Oakland Raiders enter the new season with renewed optimism as they attempt to escape the AFC West basement.
New Head Coach Jack Del Rio had some success with Jacksonville several years ago while building a stellar defense and will be seeking to do the same with the Raiders.
The defense was decent last season (statistical yardage wise) and with a nice mix of young players and crafty veterans, there could be improvement from last season's version, which did allow 452 points, the worst in the NFL.
The Raiders also need to get more out of the pass rush, as they had a next-to-league low 22 sacks last season. Only Cincinnati was worst with 21 QB sacks.
The offense needs to improve and there are many new faces in camp this year to help young QB Derek Carr progress further after a decent rookie season. The new receivers can help as long as they stay healthy and contribute as they have shown they can do from past seasons.
The running game will be the focus of the coaching staff for improvement as Daren McFadden is no longer with the team and it will be Latavius Murray and Trent Richardson, coming off another disappointing season with Indianapolis, leading the way.
Whether or not the Raiders can get out of the cellar in 2015 is a good question. They play in the AFC West, which saw three teams make the playoffs in 2013 and the same three teams each had winning records again last year.
There are a lot of questions facing the team with a new coaching staff and new systems coming into the fold in 2015, so look for improvement from last year's record as the Raiders likely will go 5-11 as they build for the future.

Week 1 - vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Week 2 - vs. Baltimore Ravens
Week 3 - at Cleveland Browns
Week 4 - at Chicago Bears
Week 5 - vs. Denver Broncos
Week 6 - BYE WEEK
Week 7 - at San Diego Chargers
Week 8 - vs. New York Jets
Week 9 - at Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 10 - vs. Minnesota Vikings
Week 11 - at Detroit Lions
Week 12 - at Tennessee Titans
Week 13 - vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Week 14 - at Denver Broncos
Week 15 - vs. Green Bay Packers
Week 16 - vs. San Diego Chargers
Week 17 - at Kansas City Chiefs

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