The Oakland Raiders had an extremely eventful offseason and are preparing to kick off the 2019-20 NFL season on the right foot after acquiring a losing record in back to back seasons. They’ve made some great signings, as well as some controversial ones as they look ahead. What can we really expect in Coach Jon Gruden’s second year with the team?
Obviously the trade for WR Antonio Brown was a blockbuster move getting him for just a third and a fifth round selection from the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was viewed as pennies on the dollar for what he was worth, though Brown doesn’t come without his flaws of course. After a rocky season full of turmoil, he basically forced himself out of Pittsburgh. Then, blocked a trade to the Buffalo Bills, which forced Pittsburgh to send him to Oakland to join QB Derek Carr. He’s definitely a big personality with a strong ego, and he could prove to be a bigger headcase than he was in Pittsburgh now that get got the trade he wanted. Jon Gruden is willing to bump heads with his players, unlike the Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, was has let the Steelers locker room run rapid.
They also gained some key pieces on the offensive side acquiring big LT Trent Brown, formerly a member of the New England Patriots, and drafting RB Josh Jacobs from Alabama. The hope is that play makers like this will help lessen the load on Derek Carr. He under preformed last season and couldn’t return to that 2017 form that they had dreamed of entering the year. Trading away Amari Cooper certainly didn’t make matters easier, but it set up for the availability to have three first round draft selections.
They also signed OG Richie Incognito, who came out of his short-lived retirement to play one more season for the Raiders earlier this week. This could also prove to be a headache for the Raiders locker room atmosphere. Incognito has had his fair share of problems over his career. Whether it be bullying his teammates with racial slurs or threatening to kill somebody at his father’s funeral, he isn’t exactly the easiest person to work with. Putting his personality issues aside, he is one of the best run blockers that the league has to offer. Pairing him up with Kolton Miller on that right side could prove to be extremely beneficial to this Raiders offense.
Without a doubt the defense has improved through the off-season. After trading away Khalil Mack before week one last year, a new pass rusher was a top priority. They felt the pressure to improve the defensive line and drafted Clelin Ferrell out of Clemson at pick number four. Although controversial, they hope he brings some leadership into a team that just hasn’t had that leader. They also drafted S Jonathan Abram to bulk up the secondary.
In free agency they also addressed the defense by signing players like S Lamarcus Joyner from the Rams, veteran ILB Brandon Marshall and topping off the list, the controversial LB Vontaze Burfict from Cincinnati. Burfict has been no stranger to dirty play in his career. He was once fined and suspended for a dirty hit on his now teammate WR Antonio Brown that would end the Bengals season in a winnable Wild Card playoff game. The hit concussed Brown and caused him to miss the next game.
As far as expectations for this coming season: they don’t have an easy schedule. Especially while being in the same division as the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers, who were both playoff teams with extremely good records last season. Meanwhile, the team is having to travel the most distance over the course of the season. It would be unrealistic to say that this team is a playoff team in their current state. They’re just not there yet in terms of how far they are in the rebuilding process. We could see some positive strides as to who is really a part of this team’s future with this upcoming season. I don’t expect a winning season though. In the end, five or six wins is probably the max for this squad.
Photo Source : AP Photo / Marcio Jose Sanchez
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