Al Davis’ Oakland Raiders (4-12) are a shadow of their glory years when they were feared and reviled. Now they are simply incompetent. It seems as if it’s time for Davis to retire. With new ownership, this team may start to rebuild rather than simply try to fill some holes.
Sophomore QB JaMarcus Russell, who saw very little action in 2007, will be asked to lead the team. This could spell disaster for the club and a talented but inexperienced Russell. Last year, QBs Josh McCown and Dante Culpepper were unable to generate points. Wideout Javon Walker, who is recovering from his third knee injury, is a risky proposition. Does he still have the ability to contribute in a meaningful manner? The ground game features talent and depth. Justin Fargas (222 ATT, 1,009 YDS, 4.5 AVG, 4 TDs) and LaMont Jordan (144 ATT, 549 YDS, 3.8 AVG, 3 TDs) are both fine rushers. The pass catching unit is very thin. Last season the O-line allowed 41 sacks.
The Raiders’ defense was rated a strong eighth versus the pass, but they were 31st against the rush. They placed 22nd in yards allowed and 26th in points. The Raiders took down QBs for a loss 27 times. Linebacker Kirk Morrison notched 120 stops and LB Thomas Howard took down opponents 95 times. The cornerback duo of Nnadmi Asomugha and DeAngelo Hall is simply one of the finest around. The frontline is lacking.
Punter Shane Lechler is a consistent performer, while placekicker Sebastian Janikowski is not as accurate as he should be. The return units need improvement, but the coverage groups are tough and competitive.
Head coach Lane Kiffin, now in his second year with the team, is a fine coach who must deal with an owner who no longer has the juice. In the early years of the AFL, Davis was an important pioneer and force. Now he fields a team that has some talent but no balance or depth and no chance of winning.