The day is finally here and tonight the San Diego Chargers' season begins. I've been counting down the days to this game for 8 months now, and I'm happy the Bolts are getting the season started by playing a team that they've beaten easily in years past. However, with the Broncos getting an unlikely win yesterday and the Chiefs playing tight with Baltimore, we can't be too confident heading into this AFC West matchup.
I talked with TheRaiderWay from Silver and Black Pride, SB Nation's Oakland Raiders community, about all of the issues the team is dealing with currently and what to expect from the team in 2009:
Last year, on a scale of 1 to 10, I would've rated the Raiders offensive line as a 1 at best. Robert Gallery needs help. Do you think this year's group is improved over last year's?
At a minimum, it is addition by subtraction by getting rid of Kwame Harris. We are very satisfied with LT Mario Henderson and are excited with his continual progress. Left tackle has been a problem for years and if Mario can continue his solid play from last season, then a major part of the line's problems will be settled. Our concern is over at right tackle. Cornell Green is at best an average backup and in no way should be starting.
As the prototypical 3-4 Defensive End, where does Richard Seymour fit into the Raiders' defense?
Well, the Raiders say they are going to play him at RDE to maximize and then have him part of the rotation where in passing downs he can then slide down to DT. Stopping the run is the Raiders problem and having Seymour anywhere along the line can only improve that problem.
The rest of his insightful answers lay after the jump.Do you think Darrius Heyward-Bey is a better WR prospect than Michael Crabtree?
For the Raiders system, definitely. It may take him a couple of years to master his position, but when he does, I believe he will be an elite receiver.
Is this JaMarcus Russell's breakout season? Why?
We sure hope so, it has to be and it better be. The Raiders have made every effort to surround JaMarcus with all the tools and weapons to be a success. The first major factor was bringing in QB coach Paul Hackett to properly teach Russell the pro game and the necessary fundamentals, both physical and mental. Next, the Raiders designed the offense to fit his skill set. The Raiders will be primarily a running team and that should help Russell's game. Having upgraded the wide receiver position and with improved line play, Russell should be an efficient QB this season. He will not need to be a superstar this season, he just needs to be able to manage the game and be as mistake free as possible, kind of in the way Joe Flacco has done for the Ravens.
The Raiders seem to have talent everywhere. The CBs are great, the LBs might be better (SDSU fans miss Kirk Morrison) and the defensive line just added a Pro Bowler. Also, nobody doubts that Russell has a cannon for an arm, nor that he has some talented receivers to throw to, nor that Oakland's trio of running backs are formidable. What's missing with this team? What's the weakness keeping them from being more consistent?
The short answer is the experience of winning, which has been lacking for most of the players on the current team. The team will win a game one week and then be a completely different team the next week because they just don't have enough experience of winning to know how to handle it on a consistent basis. Bringing in Greg Ellis and Seymour, veterans that know how to win, will be a major boon to the team on the field and in the locker room. As far as positions go, the safety position is talented but lacking experience and depth at linebacker is a serious concern.
Do the Raiders' fans still like and trust in Al Davis?
That's always a subject for much debate with opinions that are polar opposites. Al Davis is the Raiders as much as the Raiders are Al Davis and nothing is going to change that as long as he is alive. I will say, that I know of no other owner that has the desire to win as much as Al Davis does and while currently the results are not there, it's not from lack of trying.
Should Tom Cable be suspended by the league for breaking the jaw of one of his assistant coaches?
All the facts are not in yet so it's hard to just speculate, but if he did commit a crime then yes, he should be suspended.