2013 Record: 4-8
For the first time since 2010, the Raiders begin a season with the same head coach as the season before. After Hue Jackson nearly led the 8-8 2011 Raiders to the playoffs, a new GM was hired that offseason to fill Al Davis’ former duties. The GM fired Jackson on his first day despite player support for him, hiring Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. The move may have backfired. A dismal rushing attack and mediocre defense stumbled down the stretch and the Raiders lost eight of their final nine games. 34-year-old Carson Palmer has actually been a great, consistent quarterback, which is the first time the Raiders have had that in a while. But now he’s gone and Matt Flynn is the new QB. Running back Darren McFadden was a fantasy bust last year at just 3.3 yards per carry and two touchdowns. Marcel Reese and Mike Goodson (now a Jet) were effective behind him, but the Raiders may have a secret weapon in the coming years. Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor has been buried in the depth chart for two years now but was given the start for the final game of the 2012 season. He completed just 14 of 30 passes but got his own running game going, and the Raiders will be creative in getting Pryor on the field more often this year with Palmer gone. Palmer’s favorite receiver, tight end Brandon Myers, is gone, so the Raiders mediocre receivers will have to bare the weight of the passing game. Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore were both drafted during Al Davis’ era of drafting the fastest receivers out there in hopes of motoring past the competition, but they just aren’t as polished receivers as they need to be. Watch for signee Josh Cribbs to make an impact this season.
Oakland made a number of nice additions on defense. Cornerback Tracy Porter (yes, the Saints guy with the Super Bowl-clinching pick) was signed out of Denver. Oakland draftee Charles Woodson is back after making his career in Green Bay. Defensive tackle Vance Walker was signed from Atlanta to replace free agent Richard Seymour. And Brian Urlacher understudy Nick Roach was signed out of Chicago, a longtime great defense where he was thrown to the wolves in 2009 but has gained a ton of experience since. The Raiders are strong at defensive end with Lamarr Houston and at cornerback with D.J. Hayden, former Cowboy Mike Jenkins, and Porter. They were about evenly split against the pass and rush last year, and these balanced upgrades will probably help them move up a few ranks in both categories. The Raiders’ offense has issues, but the defense is passable. Although Palmer is doing just fine for this year, one wonders what potential Pryor has.