NFL 32: On The Clock – Oakland Raiders

The Raiders’ long period of underachievement continued in 2013. Without a winning season since their Super Bowl appearance in the 2002 season, hopes were that there would be signs of improvement for the Raider Nation. Matt Flynn’s arrival as quarterback from Seattle was intended to signal the start of a new dawn, yet Oakland finished the year dead last in an AFC West division that sent three teams to the postseason. Head Coach Dennis Allen has held onto his job for now, but will need to make that step in 2014.

OFFENCE

Flynn’s big money move from Seattle did not work out. He lost the starting job to Terrelle Pryor before the start of the campaign and a stuttering performance in his one full game (a home defeat to the Redskins) saw him lose his place on the entire roster.

Pryor (1798 yards, seven touchdowns, 11 picks) shared quarterback duties with Matt McGloin (1547 yards, eight touchdowns, eight picks) over the course of the season.

Whether either remains as the starter in 2014 is open to debate; Pryor’s mobility on the ground (576 yards on 86 carries) gives him an added dimension, whilst Rashad Jennings led the team with just 733 yards at 4.5 yards per carry. Rod Streater’s 60 catches for 888 yards left him as the only Raider to haul in more than 50 passes. There is much work to do on offence before the Raiders can begin to think about competing with the rest of their division.

DEFENCE

The Raiders defence, whilst not the worst performing unit in the NFL, did not help their team’s quest for success. Ranked 22nd overall, they gave up 28.3 yards and 363.7 yards on average per game.

With just 38 sacks, nine interceptions and 4352 yards given up through the air, pass defence will need addressing. Nick Roach was their stand out performer, with 112 tackles and 5.5 sacks.

Cornerback Tracy Porter performed reasonably well in the secondary, defending 13 passes with two picks, one of which went 43 yards for a score. Yet there are undoubtedly big holes that need to be filled if they are to compete with the likes of the Broncos and Chargers potent passing offences.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Sebastian Janikowski was less than reliable, connecting on just 70% of his Field Goal attempts, including five misses from under 50 yards. Marquette King achieved a net average of 40.1 yards per punt, although with 84 attempts he had a fair amount of practice. No Raider managed a touchdown return, with Taiwan Jones leading the team thanks to a 24 yard return average.

COACHING

Dennis Allen can consider himself fortunate to have held onto his job in Oakland. Consecutive 4-12 seasons would have cost others’ their jobs yet Allen lives to fight another day with the Silver and Black. He must deliver in 2014; the Free Agency period and draft will be crucial in enabling him to create a roster that can begin to compete. If there is not significant progress in Oakland in 2014 then Allen will struggle to hold onto his job for another year.

DRAFT/FREE AGENCY NEEDS

Oakland will be looking to make big strides in the off season. They have a huge amount of room for improvement and, with the fifth overall pick, the chance to make a statement early in the draft. With 18 players potentially hitting the Free Agency market, the 2014 Raiders’ roster could be very different to 2013.

Running backs Jennings and Darren McFadden, cornerback Porter, safety Charles Woodson, tackle Khalif Barnes and defensive linemen Lamarr Houston and Jason Hunter all saw a significant number of snaps last season and could be difficult to replace. Much of the draft strategy depends on the long term views on Pryor/McGloin.

There will be the chance to take a quarterback, yet whilst this may be an attractive option, they may decide to address other areas first. As well as looking at a quarterback, expect the Raiders to look to reinforce the offensive line and offensive play makers in the draft.

Defensive reinforcements could come via the draft. With lots of money potentially freed up for Free Agency, the Raiders could be another team making a play for Jared Allen. A big Free Agent signing could very well be heading to Oakland as the Raiders look to make a statement addition to the roster ready for next year.


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