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.