If they can run the ball the way they’re built to, the Raiders could have an outside chance at competing for the division.
If they do, jaws may drop. But if they don’t, and the past repeats itself, jaws could be struck.
Take a look at five things that will have to be decided in order for that to happen.
He showed glimpses of his past potential in his first season with Denver, but was slowed by nagging knee issues in his second year.
After signing a huge contract with the Raiders, Walker has yet to put forth any type of production worthy of even being called mediocre.
Still, Walker is as healthy as he’s been in years, and still has a shot at one of the starting positions.
He will be in heated competition with rookie Darrius Heyward-Bey and veteran Chaz Schilens, as well as return specialist, Johnnie Lee Higgins.
If Walker is fully healthy, the rest rides on the arm of JaMarcus Russell.
Things didn’t work out between Al Davis and Lane Kiffin, and while Cable is almost certainly not Davis’ first choice to run his team, at least Cable takes direction and does as he’s told.
However, to be successful and get Oakland back to a competitive level, Cable will have to go against the grain and surprise some people with some truly exceptional coaching.
While that is still a possibility, something tells me Davis is simply biding his time until he finds the right guy to coach his team past 2010.
Write it down. Cable’s days are numbered.
Yeah, it goes the other way, too.
After dropping from Super Bowl contenders back in the days of Rich Gannon, the Raiders have finally gotten to a point where the talent on the defensive side of the ball is good enough for playoff contention.
They’re young, fast, and physical, and praying for an offense.
The Raiders have grown into a running team that is ineffective in the passing game, leaving the defense to fend for itself with countless “three and outs” to kill momentum.
With another year under Tom Cable, and a potentially improved pass attack, this could be the year that the Raiders defense is able to wreak havoc with a decent supporting offense.
Then again, it is the Raiders.
His speed and acceleration were destined to take the league by storm.
But that didn’t happen.
No, McFadden and former college teammate Felix Jones were actually outdone by their former fullback at Arkansas, Peyton Hillis.
However, with McFadden getting most of the snaps and Hillis back at fullback in Denver, McFadden could finally be poised to break out.
That is, if Michael Bush doesn’t get in the way.
The early word has McFadden as the favorite to start, with Bush entering as the short yardage and goal-line runner.
This also means a complete demotion for last year’s starter, Justin Fargas.
After starting his first offseason with nagging injuries and a case of the dropsies, Heyward-Bey has reportedly come around a bit, and had a practice recently where he caught “everything in sight”.
While there are certainly growing pains to be expected, Heyward-Bey still has the talent and athleticism to succeed, and he’ll have every opportunity to do just that.