Oakland Raiders: 3 Things to Watch for During the Preseason


Dec 16, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden (20) is pursued by Kansas City Chiefs players Tyson Jackson (94), Eric Berry (29) and Ropati Pitoilua (75) at the O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL pre-season set to begin in August, I have identified three things the Raider Nation should look for when watching the festivities. It is not always about wins and losses, especially in the pre-season. However, there are still things to look for when evaluating the state of the team’s franchise.

For instance, the Raiders lost key players such as QB Carson Palmer, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, LB Rolando McClain, and CB Michael Huff. How will the Raiders bounce back from that? Who will step up? Those are questions that surely need to be answered, and the pre-season will provide an indicator on who those players will be. So without further ado, here are my top three things to watch during the Raiders preseason.

1. Offensive Philosophy– It is true that the Oakland Raiders will be transitioning from a zone blocking scheme to a more suited power running game. New offensive line coach Tony Sparano will utilize the power scheme in hopes of reviving a rushing attack that was sorely missing last year. In addition, RB Darren McFadden should be the benefactor of the scheme while returning to Pro Bowl form. I will go out on a limb and say McFadden will be a 1,200 yard workhorse this upcoming season.

2. Is Matt Flynn the real deal?- The future now rests in Flynn’s hands. And although the Raiders seem high on QB Terrelle Pryor, it remains unclear if he is ready to handle the vigor of a full-fledged NFL season. However, Flynn also falls in the same boat, but they will give him all the tools necessary to succeed since they traded for his services. Keep an eye on Flynn during the pre-season, as if he struggles early, look for the Raider Nation to be chanting, “We want Pryor!”

3. Raiders Front Seven- GM Reggie McKenzie basically cleaned the house up-front with the departures of DT Richard Seymour, DT Tommy Kelly (Patriots), DE Matt Shaughnessy (Cardinals), DT Desmond Bryant (Browns), and LB Philip Wheeler (Dolphins). To replace those players, McKenzie took calculated risks on DE Jason Jones, DT Pat Sims, DT Vance Walker, LB Kaluka Maivia, LB Nick Roach, and LB Kevin Burnett. Not necessarily household names, but nonetheless cheaper alternatives. Is McKenzie a top talent evaluator? Time will tell, but considering the Raiders were mediocre at best against the run last year, this group should be better. Remember, the Raiders found a bargain in Wheeler last year, and I believe that Roach and Maivia will fit the same mold this year.

While many people believe the Raiders will be worse this upcoming season, I believe they will be more disciplined, more aggressive, and finish with a 6-10 record.