The Raiders brought in several new faces on offense this offseason in the hopes of finally bringing some stability to that side of the ball. Gone is the freelancing of Terrelle Pryor. In is the experience and savvy of Matt Schaub. If Schaub can return to his previous Pro Bowl form then the team is in great hands. The team had a talented but young receiver group last year and addressed that by bringing in veteran James Jones from Green Bay. Jones will be counted on to mentor the young group as well as to be Schaub’s go-to receiver. Donald Penn and Austin Howard were brought in to shore up a weak O-line and to add some girth to a unit that had trouble moving people off the ball last year. If Jones-Drew has something left in the tank then there is potential to have a tremendous one-two punch out of the backfield.
2014 Preview – Oakland Raiders Offense
Starter – Matt Schaub
Key Backups – Derek Carr, Matt McGloin
This is clearly the best trio of quarterbacks the Raiders have had in recent memory. Matt Schaub opens as the starter and the Raiders hope he remains there as they feel Derek Carr needs a year to sit. The Raiders are very high, however, on Derek Carr and will not hesitate to play him if Schaub returns to last year’s form. Matt McGloin is the perfect backup…always mentally prepared and positive. The Raiders have their future number one and two already on the roster in Carr and McGloin.
Starter – Maurice Jones Drew
Key Backups – Darren McFadden, Latavius Murray, Kory Sheets
The joke in the media has been that the Raiders would have the best running back tandem, if this was 2010. MJD has shown the explosiveness from years ago so far in camp and combines that with his impressive receiving skills. Having MJD start may be exactly what McFadden needs to stay healthy. Coaches report that he has never run the ball so well as he has this offseason, but this is the time of year that McFadden always shines. The coaches are high on speed/size phenom Murray, and also impressed with ex-CFL standout Sheets.
Starter – Marcel Reece
Key Backups – Jamize Olawale
Marcel Reece is the Raiders most versatile weapon. He can line up in the traditional fullback position or split outside as a tight end creating matchup nightmares for opposing defenses. The challenge has always been being able to get him enough touches. Olawale is the designated short yardage blocker who also excels on special teams and is adept at catching the ball out of the backfield.
Starters – Rod Streater, James Jones
Key Backups – Denarius Moore, Andre Holmes, Greg Little, Brice Butler
This group has depth but lacks a true number one receiver. Passing on this position in a draft deep in receivers may prove to be a mistake. The Raiders are hoping that James Jones and Rod Streater can form a formidable starting tandem. Denarius Moore has shown flashes but his lack of consistency has resulted in a demotion to second string. Andre Holmes showed the ability to make big plays in limited playing time last season, and Greg Little brings the deep speed that Raiders sorely need. Brice Butler enters his second season hoping to have a bigger impact. He has shown reliable hands so far in the preseason.
Starter – Mychal Rivera
Key Backups – Brian Leonhardt, David Ausberry
Ausberry was leading this group until he suffered a knee injury early in camp. He was also set to start last season until a shoulder injury sent him to injured reserve. The injury this time seems to be minor so the Raiders still hope to rely on him heavily this season. In his absence, Rivera has resumed his starting role from last season. Rivera excels at pass catching but his blocking ability certainly leaves something to be desired. His speed is also a concern as his slow 40 time resulted in him sliding down the draft charts. Leonhardt is a reliable blocker but don’t be surprised to see the Raiders use OT Khalif Barnes in that role. It wouldn’t surprise anyone either if the team goes looking for another tight end once the roster cuts begin.
Starters – Donald Penn, Khalif Barnes, Stefen Wisniewski, Austin Howard, Menelik Watson
Key Backups – Gabe Jackson, Kevin Boothe, Tony Bergstrom, Matt McCants
This group garnered a lot of attention in the offseason. The Raiders focused on getting bigger and more physical. Mission accomplished. So far this preseason the group has been able to open holes in the interior run game and has pass blocked impressively. The anchor is Wisniewski. He excels at making calls at the line of scrimmage. The left side features veterans Penn and Barnes, but don’t be surprised to see rookie Gabe Jackson starting ahead of Barnes before too long. Coach Allen has raved about Jackson and his ability to both run and pass block and to pick up the offense. The right side consists of former right tackle Howard and second year player Watson. Howard has made a nice transition to guard, and Watson has finally been able to stay healthy. Both players are young and should make a solid combination for years to come.
The offense should be greatly improved this year. The success will obviously depend on the play of Schaub. The Raiders can only hope that this position is solidified and that they don’t have to address it again next offseason.
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