For over a decade many people wondered if the Oakland Raiders had any clue how to build a winning team. Have they finally figured it out?
Matt Schaub and Derek Carr moves reveal quarterback value
There are a lot of things that go into winning football games, but none is more important than solidifying the quarterback position. Since the departure of Rich Gannon, the Raiders have paraded a series of aging veterans, draft busts and ill-gotten trade acquisitions to the position in hopes they lean on their history of resurrecting lost careers. It hasn’t worked. So GM Reggie McKenzie and his front office decided to pull out all the stops. Oakland traded for two-time Pro Bowler Matt Schaub from Houston and then took NCAA passing leader Derek Carr in the second round of the draft. It is perhaps the largest investment the team has made at the quarterback position in years and demonstrates their clear understand that nothing the team does can result in winning unless they get consistency, efficiency and production out of footballs’ most important position. Do their moves guarantee success? No. However, it at least represents they know what is up and are doing something about it.
Justin Tuck and Khalil Mack showcase plan to attack opponents
This understanding also reflects in their purchases and draft picks on the defensive side. Maximizing your own quarterback is not the only key to winning in the NFL. Putting the opposing quarterback under fire with a strong pass rush is every bit as important. Signing former Pro Bowlers and Super Bowl champs Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley in free agency was a nice start. Everything came together though when the team made Buffalo standout Khalil Mack the 5th overall pick in the draft. Suddenly the Oakland Raiders have a three-man rotation with which to attack that quarterback-laden AFC West with names like Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Alex Smith. Since 2003 the Raiders have only ranked in the top ten in sacks once. That was in 2010, just one of two years they haven’t had a losing season since their Super Bowl appearance way back in 2002.
The Oakland Raiders are guaranteed nothing this coming season, but if their smart investments pay off they can end the longest drought in team history.