Oakland Raiders: .500 Record In 2015 Is Out Of The Question


The Oakland Raiders, in the midst of an incredibly productive offseason that has seen a tremendous increase in the depth and talent level of the roster, has fans understandably excited and optimistic. And more importantly, that excitement and optimism, unlike past seasons, is found upon something real and something tangible.

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Though a few question marks remain, there is no question that the Raiders are a much better, more complete team in 2015 than they have been at any point over the last decade. But will that translate to more wins on the field?

ESPN writer Adam Teicher – who covers the Kansas City Chiefs no less – says that Oakland is improving, but Raider fans should buckle in for yet another very long, very non-winning year. Teicher doesn’t believe the Raiders even have what it takes to break even in 2015.

Said Teicher:

"“The other AFC West teams have to start taking the Raiders seriously but eight wins is out of the question for Oakland this year.”"

Teicher rests his case on the fact that the Raiders have the league’s eighth toughest schedule in 2015, which is, by his estimate, is too difficult for the team to overcome to post even a .500 record. Though he is quick, and correct to note, that while assessing the degree of difficulty of a team’s schedule during the offseason, it often doesn’t reflect the reality of a schedule’s ease – or difficulty – when the games start to count.

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Even conceding that point though, Teicher notes:

"“… but that doesn’t change the fact that out of the division Oakland has games against Cincinnati, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Green Bay, among others. The Raiders will probably need to find a way to get to at least three wins in games against other AFC West teams in order to get to eight wins. I don’t see it.”"

In essence, Teicher is saying that the Raiders – despite their vast improvements up and down the roster, on both sides of the ball – don’t have enough to hang with teams like Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh,who all have just as many, and just as serious, question marks on their roster as the Raiders do. Some might be inclined to say that given those question marks, those games while undoubtedly tough, are still very winnable for the Silver and Black.

There seems to be a belief among the sports media talking heads like Teicher, among others, that given Oakland’s lack of success since their Super Bowl run in 2002, that there is almost a step by step progression they must take as they climb back to relevancy. That there is a certain amount of wins they’re allotted per season – many seem to agree that it’s six in 2015 – until they get back on the winning side of the ledger.

What they fail to note however, is that nearly every single year, there is a team from the bottom who somehow manages to rise to the top. And Teicher only needs to look at the team he covers – the team you’d think he would have some degree of familiarity with – to figure that one out.

In 2012, former head coach Romeo Crennel led the very same Chiefs that Teicher covers to a dismal 2-14 record. Yet in 2013 – the very next season – new head coach Andy Reid led Kansas City to a record of 11-5 and a playoff spot.

In case you’re scoring at home, that would be a nine game improvement from one season to the next. A nine game swing. And aside from the obvious upgrade at the head coaching spot, the roster remained pretty much the same – though the Chiefs did move from having Matt Cassel at quarterback to Alex Smith, and whether or not that can be considered an upgrade is a subject up for debate.

But the Chiefs had a nine game improvement in one season. And yet writers like Teicher, and others of course, gloss over or outright ignore facts like that in their rush to talk about how the Raiders can’t possibly win more than six games in 2015 because – well because they apparently deem it so.

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  • But with Derek Carr looking like the real deal, a wide receiving corps that is explosive with young talent like Amari Cooper and veteran playmakers like Michael Crabtree and Rod Streater – which is a group that is certainly more explosive than that 2013 Kansas City receiving corps – and a tight end group that could be among the best in the league, the Raiders very well could trot out a top ten offense in the league this season.

    Defensively, Oakland has a front seven who will be a nightmare to run against with monsters like Khalil Mack, Sio Moore, Curtis Lofton, Dan Williams, Justin Tuck, and Justin Ellis waiting to swallow up ballcarriers. Yes, there are question marks when it comes to pass rushing, but if Mario Edwards Jr., Benson Mayowa, and even Max Valles can step up – and if Mack is allowed more freedom to get after the quarterback – that is a question that could be solved quickly. Ditto that in the secondary where youngsters D.J. Hayden, Travis Carrie, and Keith McGill will be holding down the corners – they all have the potential to be very good players, but at this point, it’s all potential.

    If everything falls into place and those young players can step up and perform, Oakland could be fielding one of the fiercest defenses in the league.

    While it would be foolhardy to suggest that the Raiders will win the Super Bowl this year, it seems downright ignorant to say with the absolute conviction and certainty of Adam Teicher, that even a .500 season is, “out of the question.” Especially when there is so much history – and recent history at that – which suggests otherwise.

    There is no doubt that the Raiders are a much improved ballclub. They have more depth and talent than they’ve had in a very long time. And in HC Jack Del Rio – along with his very experienced coaching staff – Oakland has a man shaping and guiding the team who has had success on the NFL level.

    How improved are they? Obviously, we aren’t going to know until the games start to count. But the potential for great and special things is there.

    And if the 2013 Chiefs – who arguably had a less talented roster than this year’s Oakland squad – can improve nine games in the span of one season, who is to say that the Raiders couldn’t do the same thing?

    Oh that’s right, Adam Teicher did.

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