Could The Raiders Be Better Than Everyone Seems To Think?

It might seem far away now, but it was only 20 months ago that the Raiders were sitting on a 12-3 record and general manager Reggie McKenzie was among the hottest personnel bosses in football.

Fast forward to today and McKenzie has been stripped of his power, Khalil Mack is gone, and the Raiders seem to be sending a message that they are entering into rebuild mode.

But are the Raiders really that unlikely to return to their 2016 form with the team they have now?

No, not really.

In 2016, the Raider defense was as bad as ever, giving up an average of 24.2 points per game – a number that would have been higher had the offense not finished third in the NFL in time of possession. Even without Mack, Paul Guenther should be able to field a defense that’s able to finish better than dead last in the league in yards-surrendered per play (6.0), right?

Not long ago, some felt Guenther’s defense would be the real surprise of Gruden’s first year back, but that might be a tall task now that Mack is forever away counting his money in the prairie state.

On the other side of the ball, the offense was good in 2016 (25.3 PPG), but it sometimes didn’t seem to be at its best until Bill Musgrave put down the play sheet and let Carr operate without restraints.

Musgrave’s offense actually sputtered early in games a lot, which was one of the reasons there wasn’t an overwhelming outpouring of support for him when he left. In hindsight, his departure was a mistake, but that might have had as much to do with those who replaced him – a three-headed goof gaggle made up of an offensive coordinator, an offensive line coach, and a head coach.

At the very least, the arrival of Jon Gruden should bring the offense back to where it was in 2016 and if they can protect Carr, the 2018 offense might be more explosive than the 2016 version.

So maybe it’s not that ridiculous to have high hopes for the Raiders. The path they took to 12-4 in 2016 wasn’t all that elaborate. With the relatively soft schedule the Raiders seem to have this year, maybe they can just do it again.

twitter: @raidersbeat


23 thoughts on “Could The Raiders Be Better Than Everyone Seems To Think?

  1. My mindset exactly. People are acting like Khalil Mack and that defense were the reason we won 12 games in 2016. No, it was all Carr and the O. Now that defense is WAY better coached under Guenther, and truly their secondary inspires more optimism then years prior… 2016 blueprint was simple: offense score points, defense get turnovers. Raiders can easily replicate that this year

      1. I couldn’t agree more!! When Musgrave got out of the way and let Carr soar he LIT PEOPLE UP! Looked like that old gunslinger Farve!! Musgrave wouldn’t open up the offense until the middle or end of the 3rd Qtr. I hated his conservative play calling and was at the Collisium to see it all. Never liked Del Rio or Musgrave! But I must admit when they started winning they won me over. But it didn’t last long. Del Rio returned to form and did EXACTLY what he did in Jacksonville!! Turn them around with his rah,rah coaching. Get all full of himself. And just like in Jacksonville FIRE MUSGRAVE and watch EVERYTHING GO DOWM THE TOILET!! He had No clue how to coach offense or be a head coach! I truly believe this team is going to surprise alot of people. Remember our defense in 2016? Bend don’t break was their mantra!! Well this year’s defense is going to be much better than ANYTHING we ever saw under Norton. And like Gruden or not. He knows Offense! And with the soft schedule (just like in 2016) were gonna be in the fight for the AFC West title!! You gotta believe!!!

  2. Thats what i keep saying. If the D can keep the
    Umder 24 i think we might be anle to win games with our O…

  3. It really hinges on how good Kolten Miller really is, rather or not Jordy Nelson really has anything left, how good Mo Hurst and his draft mates up front can be and how fast they acclimate and how much Jon Gruden really learned while calling games for ESPN. In other words, a lot more has to go right than they can afford to go wrong. They have a shot, but a small margin for error.

  4. The problem is that we have not seen the first teams play against other first teams. Monday night will provide us a better picture.however I tend to agree with the writer that this team is superior to the 2016 team.

  5. No team has won a SB with Khalil Mack, nor has every SB winner had an all pro edge rusher. The Patriots (a team I loathe with a passion) has proven that good coaching can overcome average talent in a lot of positions. Guenther is light years ahead of Ken Norton and nearly ANY veteran OC is better than Downing. I expect the team to be competitive because the coaches we have are far better at game planning.
    If they can find a way to be among the top teams in takeaways (INT’s, fumbles, etc.) and even just average with sacks, we could snag a wild card.
    The Rams will be a HUGE test!

  6. If feel that way too.
    I think our Dline will surprise this year. With good pressure (something we never really had)
    We’ll finally give a chance to the secondary for once.

  7. Nicholas and Calvert,

    Mack won the game vs Carolina with strip sack & pick 6 and against Bills with a strip sack, plus x2 sacks vs Denver @ home and forced a fumble when it was 1 score game, X2 sacks against Tampa! That’s 4 games and I’m Not even thinking that’s hard! Carr will be better this year! Cooper and Kolton Miller plus running game is the key!!!!!

    Come on fellas talk the truth, don’t be fan boys who are clueless FFS!

    1. Right? Mack was are only player on def? No DB’s, no LB’ers? He single handedly kept us (the Nation) in games to give Carr a chance to pull out the last second win? We gave up more than we will get for those 1st round picks? We will not get a Mack caliber player, those are once in a generation players. The only player drafted by Oak to make the HOF H. Long, THE ONLY ONE. gruden just traded the 2nd? (He was a shoe in) & M. Davis didn’t have the balls to stop it.

  8. Same team that went 12-4 went 6-10 the following year after adding some depth. Of course the mammoth change is Khalil Mack but a change to a much better coaching staff will make this team better overall. Nobody was talking about the guys on the eagles or jags until good coaching staffs showed up. All of a sudden these teams are “loaded” with talent. Coaching. In nba and mlb, coaching isn’t as crucial. In the NFL a great coach makes all the difference. The players have said it all off season how much more prepared they are and they are ready for any situation. Tim brown said “if we lost, it wasn’t because we weren’t prepared” as they went on to win the AFC west 3 years in a row so that tells you how much they lost. Coaching baby.

  9. I agree. We dont know what product is hitting the field. Dont get me wrong I loved Mack. He made the comments ” I want to be a raider for life”. Obviously his goal was to be the highest paid defender in the league. I wish him the best. As for the Raiders we will dominate again real soon. Draft right and select solid free agents and we will be on top again. 4 first round picks in 2 years is a great start. I am glad the team wasn’t mortgaged for 1 player. Raiders will have approximately 120 million. In cap space with expiring contracts In 2020. It all looks like a bright exciting future

  10. 2016 = Dead last in team sacks
    2017 = 24th in team sacks

    D issues = Norton Jr.

    If the D can get into the top 20 on most categories and Carr & Co. do what’s expected, no reason to believe a 10-12 win season is out of the norm.

    And if we do, we get to watch Bill Simmons eat testicles 🙂 🙂 🙂

  11. This season is set up just like 2016. We play a loser(WEAK) schedule just like then. Our defense isn’t great but much better than the BEND BUT DON’T BREAK defense we threw out there under Norton! Gunther actually KNOWS WHAT HE’S DOING!! And even without Mack this defense is better with the exception of the Lb’s. That’s still a question mark and therefore a weakness!! I think we can win the AFC West with Grudens West Coast Offense! Gruden will set Carr up to succeed! Don’t know if we’ll beat the Rams? Our team hasn’t played enough together to be a cohesive unit yet. But look out AFC West. You’re going to be surprised!!!!!

  12. Love what everyone is saying I’ve been on the Carr train ever since that draft he is who I wanted out all those other lame qb that year. But let’s not be mad Khail did win us some of those game off of Derek’s arm he would drive down and throw a game winning TD. Then we have to play defense while the other performed a 1 min drill. Game ending strip sacks Reggie Nelson had a couple int to seal a couple games too that year. But yes we were scoring like 30 points a game it was just hard to keep up with us! But Gruden understands today stuff he’ll do us right but I feel like sometimes he can reach but time will tell!

  13. Rookie LT does not bode well for Carr. Starting middle linebacker is 35 years old. One of the oldest teams in the NFL, when it’s truly a young man’s game. A lot going against them, hopefully they over achieve.

  14. I agree…….I think our defense is much better now than it has been in a long time but time will tell how good they are. We never won or lost because of Mack. He was one of the best in the game and we don’t have him anymore which makes this season crucial. If we have a winning season, Gruden looks good and we **** on all of the sports talk pundits and analysts who are calling us a disaster. If we have a losing season….then all of them were right. Unfortunately…..or fortunately depending on how you look at it….our first contest, with the whole country watching, is with a very good team that has a very good defense. Kolton Miller will find himself up against Ndamukong Suh or Aaron Donald all night. Think about that for minute.

  15. Three-headed goof gaggle…best part of this article.

    Mack is worth 2 wins per year, so the. D needs to come together and O needs to ramp it up!

  16. You hit it on the head there. The 12-4 season was mostly the offense, but don’t forget that Mack did save a few of those games at the end. The argument there is that if the defense as a whole were better, he wouldn’t have needed to. And I think that’s what the Raiders will be able to build now that he’s gone. The individual heroics may be gone, but the overall productivity of the defense has a chance to rise. I don’t think it’ll happen this season though, it’ll take an aggressive free agency (Gruden’s favorite) and a few more draft picks to really stabilize the defense. Free agents the Raiders would not have been able to sign if they paid Mack.

    Just think about this offense real quick:
    Carr, Cooper, Nelson, Lynch, Jackson, Husdon, Osemele. All seven of these players are Pro Bowl caliber players. Last season 6 of those guys were around, and they did okay given the coaching situation and the injury situation. These 7 guys, with a Jon Gruden offense…massive potential. 30 points per game potential. The wins won’t be easy, I’m sure the defense will be giving up 25 or more per game though.

  17. I agree that DC is the #1 priority but let’s not kid ourselves, Mack is a dominant player and made the D ALOT better. With Mack the Raiders could be a top 15 D this year and challenge for a wild card. Now they are a rebuild which is fine but it did not seem like it was planned, they have too many old vets for a rebuild, and they waste draft capital (which is required for a true rebuild).

  18. We will beat rams , 11-5 floor 13-3 ceiling. Quality control on this team may be best in league outside of Vikings. 0

  19. Mack’s fucking incredible, now hes a bear. Life moves on, now we have Key, hall, Hurst and a tank to root for. If Calhoun and brown can continue their improvements we will replace Mack Billy Beane style

  20. The defense would be better with Mack this season, but the team would not in the future. The Rams acquired Suh, Talib, and Peters in the offseason for a combined salary of $27 mil for this season. Net out the salaries of the players they replaced and it is below Mack’s $23.5 mil salary. Peters and Talib are under contract for next season as well with combined salaries of $17 mil and no remaining guaranteed money. Those are the types of deals that wouldn’t be possible for the Raiders in the future if the team was paying two players nearly $50 mil combined per season. The Bears and Rams both have a couple years before they are facing possible big QB contracts to go with Mack and Donald. The Raiders don’t need to find the next Mack with the draft picks acquired to make this deal a win for the team.

    QBs are the only players who can consistently change games – good or bad – in a manner that impacts the W-L column because they have the ball in their hands the most. If a QB has a bad day and turns the ball over three times and throws less than 50% completions, the team will likely lose. If a pass rusher has an off-game and doesn’t apply good pressure on the QB or play the run well, others on D can pick up some of the slack and the offense can still put points on the board. That is not to say that a defensive player can’t occasionally take over a game and almost single-handedly be responsible for an occasional W, but it doesn’t happen often. Even a strip sack to end a close game can’t necessarily be credited solely to the pass rusher if, say, the final score of the game is 38-34 – the strip sack wouldn’t have been a factor at all if the offense clearly hadn’t put up some serious points to give the team the lead at that point.

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