The 2018-2019 Oakland Raiders: A Dual Preview

Written by Duncan Lambert (@bigdaddylambert)

 

Generally speaking, I would say that I find myself to be a rational and realistic person in most walks of life. When it comes to my love for the Raiders, however, all rational and realism is out the window. One minute I’ll believe that QB Derek Carr is the second coming of Joe Montana who will be led by new head coach Jon Gruden to the promised land. The next minute, I’m convinced Derek Carr is the second coming of David Carr and will be wandering the Nevada desert with Jon Gruden for 40 years until his mammoth contract is finally up. (OK, I’m exaggerating, his contract isn’t that bad.) *takes a second look* HOW MUCH?! FOR HOW LONG?! Ok maybe it is that bad. I might need a drink.

Anyway, let’s get started shall we? Since the Raiders have both a ton of talent and a ton of questions marks heading into this season I will run through said questions and present to you the only two scenarios my brain can fathom for the upcoming Raiders season.

Scenario 1

 

Donald Penn is hurt and Khalil Mack still hasn’t showed up for camp, can we even get our hopes up for week 1?

Great news! Not only did everyone get and stay healthy throughout training camp and preseason but All-Pro Khalil Mack signed a contract extension in time to be in game shape for week 1. The Rams Aaron Donald, on the other hand did not and the Raiders run right through the over-hyped LA defence on their way to a 42-13 Monday night victory.

What about the untrustworthy WRs and the two, possibly regrettable, additions?

Amari Cooper begins what will be a career year with 2 touchdowns in week one on route to a season total of 13 as he is healthy once again. Pretty great turnaround after losing all motor control for parts of last season.

Not only does Cooper shine, but fellow wideout Jordy Nelson returns to being Green Bay Jordy Nelson, hauling in 7 TDs with 904 yards on the season. Turns out he decided to spend more time working out than farming this offseason.

Don’t forget this WR core has the often outspoken and unhappy Martavis Bryant running routes as well. In case you forgot (or tried to forget like myself) about this trade, the Raiders acquired him in a brutal draft night trade. Did I say brutal? I meant genius! Bryant manages to stay off the Cali bud and rack up a career high 10 TDs and a total of 620 yards.

Elsewhere on offense, the Oakland play callers remember that Jared Cook is in fact on the roster and start using him to his full pass-catching abilities.

Any chance Marshawn regains full beast mode powers?

marshawn

From across the Bay, Barry Bonds musta been slipping something into those packs of Skittles on the sidelines for Lynch because he runs for over a thousand yards for the first time since 2014 and muscles his way to a career-high 15 touchdowns. Not only does he go full beast mode, he goes full DGAF mode by holding a “I’m just sitting so I DO get fined” sign while on the bench during the national anthem.

How does Carr’s back hold up?

Pro Bowl QB Derek Carr has his toughness rewarded by the football gods and thrives under Gruden to put up career bests of 4,218 yards, 36 TDs, and only 3 interceptions. His MVP season is highlighted by a 5 touchdown, 552 yards passing performance against Garoppolo and the Niners, leading to a 45-13 win.  

What about the defensive side of the ball?

Mack lives up to whatever massive dollar figure he was (and should be) given to give opponents nightmares and is again awarded All-Pro honors at two positions. (OK, side tangent. This was not covered enough whatsoever. The guy was All-Pro at TWO DIFFERENT POSITIONS IN THE SAME SEASON. I still can’t comprehend the lack of attention this received at the time. This has never happened and will never be done again by anyone else, not just in the NFL but in any sport [unless of course Nick Wright decides the All NBA teams in which case it will be Lebron 15 times]. All that money being used to build a stadium in Vegas? Give it to my man Khalil.)   

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders

On the d-line, 2018 draft picks Arden Key and Maurice Hurst turn into major steals as Bruce Irwin and Mario Edwards Jr. feed off the dominance of Mack to wreak havoc in opposing backfields.

In the secondary, Gareon Conley and Rashaan Melvin make big leaps forward as Karl Joseph decides not to try and murder the ball carrier on every down, instead learning the importance of form tackling. “No way could I keep playing like that,” said Joseph, “I had to change my style of play. The game is just so much more fun for me now.”

 

So Gruden was the right hire after all?

JG

Most definitely he was. Carr’s renaissance can be attributed greatly to working closely with Gruden, who easily shakes off the rust of nearly a decade without coaching. After leaning towards a possible return to coaching for several years and consuming hundreds of hours of film daily, all Gruden needed to return to the sideline was way too much money and the ability to fire people who enjoyed themselves on the field. Releasing Pro Bowl punter Marquette King doesn’t end up hurting Oakland all that much as their old-school offense is so dominant they barely need one.  

OK great, but how does the season end?

How does the season end? How does a 14-2 regular season record, a first-round bye and a Super Bowl LIII victory sound?! Not only does Jon Gruden lead the Raiders to their first Super Bowl win since 1981 (LA doesn’t count), but he rallies the city of Oakland to save the Raiders from moving to Las Vegas. Raider Nation rejoice!   

Scenario 2

 

Donald Penn is hurt and Khalil Mack still hasn’t showed up for camp, can we even get our hopes up for week 1?

Nope. Not a good idea to. Penn ends up needing surgery which gets the ball rolling on a laundry list of injuries for both the the aging Oline and receiving corps. Mack does not receive a contract extension and sits out week 1. Aaron Donald on the other hand gets all the money he was asking for and comes ready for the Monday matchup racking up 3 sacks as the properly-hyped Rams run over the Raiders 51-17.

What about the untrustworthy WRs and the two, possibly regrettable, additions?

On the very first drive of the season Cooper drops a ball in the end zone and lands awkwardly leading to another season of both ankle and bodily-control issues. (Let’s break down this film since I’ve linked it twice: Cooper crosses the middle where DC delivers a less than perfect but more than catchable ball. Amari then flops to the ground like a opossum in oncoming traffic, lets the ball fly through his hands like he’s got two largemouth bass attached to his wrists, before it ends up in the Kansas City defense’s hands. Not ideal.)

/METRO

Not only does Cooper struggle, but fellow wideout Jordy Nelson can not regain Green Bay Jordy Nelson abilities, hauling in only 1 TD and 104 yards in the first six weeks. Turns out he misses home too much and spends the rest of the season farming after the week 7 bye.

Don’t forget this WR corp has the often outspoken and unhappy Martavis Bryant running routes as well. In case you forgot (or tried to forget like myself) about this, the Raiders acquired him in a brutal draft night trade. Did I say brutal? I meant astronomically, incalculably horrendous! Bryant actually hauls in 8 catches for 96 yards in the first half against the Rams before he’s piss tested at half and is positive for 18 different strains of marijuana and a beaver tranquilizer (I hope you took the over on 1.5 dodgeball references for this article).  

Elsewhere on offense, the Oakland play callers remember that Jared Cook is in fact on the roster and start using him solely in run-blocking schemes and waste his full pass-catching abilities.

How does Carr’s back hold up?

Pro Bowl QB Derek Carr has his stupidity punished by medical science as his back hinders his performance so much so that he’s benched after an embarrassing loss to Jimmy GQ and the Niners in week 9. He at no point during the year seems like the MVP candidate of 2016, but his replacement Connor Cook surprises all of Raider Nation by looking somewhat competent and manages to throw 3 (!!!) touchdowns against a tough Steelers team in a 48-21 loss.

Any chance Marshawn regains full beast mode powers?

If there ever was it vanished after week one. Lynch pulls his most dramatic stunt yet by stealing the Raiders medical cart and driving it across the field during the national anthem. He was shortly thereafter suspended for the first half of the season. Lynch would go on to gain so much weight from only eating skittles all day, he was a rare sight in the second half of the season putting up career lows of 1 touchdown and 123 yards.

What about the defensive side of the ball?

After missing week 1, Mack is more concerned with staying healthy so he can sign elsewhere as a free agent rather than returning to the player who received All-Pro honors at two positions. (Actually not even that big of a deal.)

Elsewhere, 2018 draft picks Arden Key and Maurice Hurst turn into major busts as Bruce Irwin and Mario Edwards Jr. struggle to pick up the slack left by Mack.

In the secondary, the development of Gareon Conley and Rashaan Melvin take big steps in the wrong direction and safety Karl Joseph is suspended indefinitely after knocking a ball boy unconscious with a helmet-to-head collision. “No way was I letting him get to the edge with that thing,” said Joseph,”just put my head down and made a play. This league has just become so damn soft.”

So Gruden wasn’t the right hire after all?

No he was most definitely not. Both Carr’s struggles and all offensive issues can be attributed greatly to Gruden not knowing what milenium it is. Turns out it’s nearly impossible to shake off the rust of nearly a decade without coaching. Players do not take kindly to his no nonsense style of coaching, especially when he’s making a lot more money when they are. Releasing Pro Bowl punter Marquette King ends up hurting Oakland more than predicted as the offensive players are so damn confused all the time, they have to punt on almost all possessions.

Well shit eh, how does the season end?

How does the season end? HOW DOES THE SEASON END?! Fuckin’ 1-15. (Beat the Browns) The Raiders are so putrid the entire organization is banned from NFL football until their new Vegas stadium is ready in 2020. After all, with nothing left to swallow up, a black hole will ultimately disappear.
Even though football may be eternally finished in Oakland, Lynch, Carr, Cooper and Gruden team up again in the XFL! This move comes with a lot of speculation, but for me, I can only fathom it going one of two ways…

 

 

 

Duncan the Intern just finished his third year at Bishop’s University where he literally only shoots threes for the varsity men’s basketball (seriously you can look it up). He firmly believes that the ‘85-‘86 Celtics are the greatest NBA team of all time and that Elon Musk is a real life super villain. Blog boy for life.

 

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