The Oakland Raiders are well known for their past success and current futility. Controlled by an owner who seems to have lost more than few of his marbles, the organization has slowly become one of the worst football teams in the NFL.
Nothing shows this more than the 2009 NFL draft, when the Raiders and Al Davis chose Maryland product Darius Heyward-Bey at Number 7 overall. Most barely had Bey, a WR, in the first round at all. But Davis likes speed, so he chose not Michael Crabtree, the best WR in the draft, but Bey, an unproven wide reciever with questionable hands and blazing speed.
Yet, if a few things go right, this team could do well in their division. Make the playoffs? I doubt it. But a 7-9 record is a possibility. Sadly, they have not won more than 5 games in season since their superbowl season, in 2002.
That is one thing that amazes me; how Raider Nation, to the outside observer, has not shown any sign of giving up on their beloved team.
Their QB situation is perhaps the most interesting in the NFL; will Jamarcus Russell finally show some production in his third season, or will Jeff Garcia take over? Unless Russell shows some major improvement, they may want to take him out in favor of Garcia, a great QB who I would take over many starters in the NFL right now. Led by Garcia, the Raiders reaching a 7-9 or even a (gasp!) 8-8 record is a possibility.
Their running game should be a strong one, with Justin Fargas, Michael Bush, and Darren McFadden in the backfield. Their new fullback, Lorenzo Neal, led the way for the Baltimore Ravens backfield last year and believe me, he was a key to the running game. He also blocked for a certain Ladainian Tomlinson for 5 seasons. Although he is a bit old, he will provide some room to run in.
While the WR corps isn't great, they are good. If Bey can do well in his first year and improve his pass catching and route-running abilities, thsi will be group to be reckoned with. Johnnie Lee Higgins is a speedster and does kick returns, regularly returning them for touchdowns (He was on my fantasy team last year). He can be a solid number 2 or 3 wide reciever.
The Raiders defense is fairly strong, led by Nnamdi Asomugha in the secondary. If the defense can force some turnovers, the Raiders have the potential to be a respectable team this season.
However, if Russell doesn't improve significantly this year and they leave him in, chaos could ensue. Putting Garcia in would be putting up the white flag in terms of the growth of their QB of the future, Russell. Ultimately, the Raider's season depends on this decision: leave him in or take him out in favor of the veteran? Hopefully, Jamarcus Russell will flourish for the first time in his NFL career, but if not, Oakland could return to its 5-11 records.