“It’s true. The 8-8 in Oakland? We were perennially the last team in the AFC West. We would win maybe two games a year or four games a year. When we got to 8-8 and it was like, ‘Wow! There is so much improvement.’ You’re not excited you didn’t make the playoffs, but you’re excited that we were moving in the right direction. I love how different that it is over here because 8-8 is not acceptable. It doesn’t matter where you have come from, 8-8 should always be that we are playing below where we should be playing. Out here that is the mentality. 8-8 shouldn’t be anywhere near what we are thinking. That was great.”
His shot was directed at how the team was run, top-down during his time in the Silver & Black. At the end of the season, you basically have to accept your record. You can say it’s unacceptable, and act like it’s unacceptable. Yet, if you don’t highlight and reward players for their improvement from a 2 or 4-win season, you might not be able to get some of them stay maturing. What are you supposed to do? Not sleep? Not eat? Over a game? Ray Lewis is one of the most emotionally-engaged warriors in this game, and even he knows you gotta put the game in context.
For Raiders fans, they want their woeful defense to take a step up. It will be headed by new head coach Dennis Allen and new defensive coordinator Jason Tarver. Tarver coached OLB’s for the 49ers from 2005-2010, and was co-defensive coordinator for the Stanford Cardinal last season. In free agency, they signed corners Pat Lee, Shawntae Spencer, and Ron Bartell. They also acquired OLB Philip Wheeler and Super Bowl champion DE Dave Tollefson. The Raiders drafted San Diego St. OLB Miles Burris (Round 4, Pick 34, 129th overall), Penn St. DE Jack Crawford (Round 5, Pick 23, 158th overall), Georgia State DE Christo Bilukidi (Round 6, Pick 19, 189th overall), and Penn St. OLB Nathan Stupar (Round 7, Pick 23, 230th overall).
The Raider offense may shock a lot of people. With all their top four receivers missing at least 2 games each, Carson Palmer having not practiced with any team in 10 months (with never having worked with these receivers), and Darren McFadden not playing one down with CP, the Raiders offense scored an impressive 24 or more points 6 out of 9 games. Palmer will benefit from the fact that Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore probably don’t freelance like Chad Ochocinco did for the Bengals. This improvisation led to big numbers in the intermediate and deep game for Ocho, but also stunted drives.
Nnamdi savaged an organization that has been completely overhauled (beginning with GM Reggie McKenzie) since his departure. No one knows what Dennis Allen would achieve in the postseason. We do know that in 9 postseason appearances, Andy Reid has reached the Super Bowl just once. Then again, this is a totally new team, and maybe Andy has learned from his failures.
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