After months of reporting on all things super hero and comics, this publication has delivered a sports section again 😉 Worry not fans of Marvel and DC we’ll be back with more on that later this summer. Now for the sports report!
The Oakland Raiders have arguably the best fan base in the nation. Sure the Dallas Cowboys have a strong and passionate following as well, but the Raiders have absolutely sucked for the last ten years and yet they still travel well all over the nation.
The last time the Raiders were relevant was about a dozen years ago. The team was coming down from the peak of the 1999-2002 seasons with veteran QB, Rich Gannon commanding the most prolific offense in the NFL at the time.
For Raider Nation these last decade and two years have been a brutal and bloody, head trauma to the psyche. The team has not managed a winning season since appearing in Super Bowl XXXVIII. They mustered up a couple of 8-8 seasons a few years ago teasing the fan base with the notion that, “maybe this will be the season.” No such luck has arrived, until now perhaps.
Last year the Oakland Raiders took Derek Carr in the draft from the Fresno State Bulldogs. I like Fresno State, I always have. They are a gritty team and the Oakland Raiders do well with gritty players. His rookie season last year was one filled with greatness mostly fulfilled. Look at the chart below and compare his numbers to those of some recent top rookies.
The yards may not knock you over but they are comparable and look at that TD to Int ratio! Remember the Raiders like to pound the rock on the ground to set up the pass, so these are as good or better than any of these other QBs. Don’t forget that Mr. Carr really had a weak sauce receiving corps. James Jones was his top man on the tail end of passes. JJ is a solid veteran but has never caught balls for 1,000 yards in a season.
Now enter the 2015 NFL draft and the Raiders take Amari Cooper who is one of the best college receivers drafted in God knows how long. This guy can catch the ball from any where to anywhere. Then keep in mind that they acquired Michael Crabtree, an admittedly annoying, but still pretty good veteran player. The Raiders also picked up, undrafted Fresno State receiver, Josh Harper, Carr’s go to guy when he played there. The Oakland Raiders have long been known for throwing the ball to the Tight End and Mychal Rivera is an up and coming star. The Raiders also got Clive Walford out of Miami in the draft and he is a solid Tight End probably the second best one in the draft. Suddenly Derek Carr has targets, multiple targets that can catch the ball, run for touchdowns and keep the enemy safeties in the secondary where they belong.
Jack Del Rio didn’t just pad the stat positions. He went a long way towards shoring up a porous offensive line with quality draft selections and an aggressive move to acquire Rodney Hudson from rival KC in free agency.
This improved O-line will help keep Carr in the upright position, but will further aid the important Oaktown running game. Latiavius Murray really showed some good stuff last season averaging an impressive 5.2 yards per carry. He will no doubt be pounding the rock up the gut, keeping linebackers up tight in the box and away from receivers.
I don’t think the Raiders will find themselves on a deep playoff run this season but after the last dozen, 10 wins will feel like winning the Super Bowl.