Sep 23, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden (20) runs with the ball during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 37-21. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Key Oakland Raiders Questions Before Regular Season

Expectations are higher than they’ve been in a long time for the Oakland Raiders.  What are some key questions to ponder heading into the season?

Can Matt Schaub hold off Derek Carr in QB battle?

For a team that wants to win right away, the Oakland Raiders did the logical thing by pursuing a veteran quarterback in Matt Schaub.  He has the experience and a fresh start after his unfortunate end in Houston.  However, while he gets comfortable the eyes of many NFL enthusiasts continue to watch rookie Derek Carr carefully.  The 2013 leading NCAA passer already passed the more experienced Matt McGloin on the depth chart.  Even other Raider plays have said there is a presence about the rookie that is hard to ignore.  If he continues to improve, will Oakland give him a legitimate shot to start this season, and if so can Schaub hold him off?  It’s impossible to answer yet, but can’t be tabled for long.

Are Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley expired purchases?

Gambling on veteran players is the theme of 2014 for the Raiders.  Aside from Schaub at quarterback, they made a number of interesting free agent moves on teh defensive  side as well.  Among the most notable are pass rushers Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley.  At one point in time both players were among the best in the NFL, leading their teams to Super Bowl titles.  However, each is over the age of 30 now and flirting with that dreaded wall that comes with age in pro football.  Tuck did have 11 sacks last season, but that was last season and prior to that he had nine in two years.  Woodley meanwhile has topped double digit sacks since 2010.  Yet both are expected to help carry the pass rush responsibility alongside rookie Khalil Mack.  Time will tell whether Oakland got them past their sell by dates.

What can Greg Olson get out of Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew?

Given what he had to work with in 2013, offensive coordinator Greg Olson did a fine job.  Now one of his primary missions for his second season is figuring out what to do with his running backs.  On paper it looks like he has a potentially lethal combination of Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew.  However, questions surround both players.  McFadden is on a one-year deal  hoping to resuscitate a promising career marred by injuries.  Jones-Drew is back from an injury of his own and is battling age as well after being a three-time Pro Bowler in Jacksonville.  A lot of ifs surround their future with the Oakland Raiders, but if Olson can find a way to help them navigate the pitfalls, the offense could flourish.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Darren McFadden Derek Carr Justin Tuck Matt Schaub Maurice Jones-Drew Oakland Raiders

  • Bob

    Can Olson use Reece better?

    • jeff

      Right. let Reece start at RB lol

      • Bob

        No, he needs to get more touches in space.

        • Paul J. Lorona

          Reece needs more touches. Need to be creative with his ability. Maybe even line him up at TE.

      • Gregg Brennan

        Reece has filled in at RB for Darren McFragile quite a few times and done a good job. He’s a damn good player and they need to find a way to get the ball in his hands more. When Limp DMC goes down in training camp with a hangnail and Jones-Drew becomes the next retread RB the Raiders bring in with no tread left on his tire (ala Eric Dickerson and Roger Craig) and if Murray and Sheets can’t pick up the slack then Reece may be forced into being the man.

  • Mark Shafer

    I believe with a offensive line that can block it will free up some more aggressive play calling. Hopefully unleashing the beast, Reece.

  • Raider Grant

    Barring any set backs due to injury, Schaub will start. To further build Schaubs confidence McKenzie/Allen should reiterate that he’s the guy for the job. Tuck & Woodly NEED to produce in order for the acquisitions not blow up in The Raiders face! Be nice to see McFadden bust out, and MJD to contribute positively throught the season, but I would expect both of them being hurt at some point during the season. Hopefully Murray & Reece pick up any of that slack. Reece can contribute as a slot receiver & TE in red zone packages, to include carrying the full RB responsibilities…so get him the ball GREG! Go Raiders