Typically the easiest way to make a playoff run is having a strong core of star players. The Oakland Raiders don’t have that luxury. Can they win anyway?
D.J. Hayden and Sio Moore exemplify Raiders problem
Die hard fans may be quick to denounce the idea that the Raiders have no star power, but honestly. Do they? Their only Pro Bowler in 2013 was fullback Marcel Reece. Everybody else remotely close to a similar nod either underachieved or got hurt. For Oakland the problem lay in a combination of factors, specifically regarding their young talent. First is the health issues. Second-year corner D.J. Hayden was viewed as the heir apparent to Charles Woodson but missed eight games as a rookie and is now nursing a bad ankle heading into training camp. The other problem is awkward scheme fit. Sio Moore had a very productive season for the Oakland Raiders defense at strong side linebacker last year. However, the arrival of rookie Khalil Mack compelled the team to switch him over to the weak side. Thus far it has not gone as smoothly as anticipated and threatens to create further roadblocks for the team in their bid to compete.
Matt Schaub and Justin Tuck among twilight players
The other problem with the star power lag is age gaps. At this stage the Oakland Raiders have a lot of names on the roster that were stars at one point in their career but don’t hold that label anymore including ones like Matt Schaub, Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Carlos Rogers. Then there is a promising source of young blood coming in like Mack, Hayden and Moore who aren’t yet approaching their primes. There is nobody really hitting that sweet spot of young enough to play at a peak level but experienced enough to minimize the mistakes, otherwise known as a superstar. Until that changes the team will have to rely on playing efficient, smart and tough. It has succeeded in the past, but only with effort and a lot of luck.