To say Raider Nation is disappointed would be an insult. This was SUPPOSED to be OUR year! This would be the year we finally win a playoff game; the 1st such win since 2002. Instead of talking about what went wrong, lets focus on what needs to happen so this time in 2018, we are talking about how far we can go in the Playoffs.
In the NFL, you can go from bitter disappointment to a legit Playoff team in 1 year. Lets look at a few teams this year that went from the cellar to making the playoffs.
In 2016 the Jags were a abysmal 3-13. In 2017 they added Tom Coughlin to the front office and promoted interim HC Doug Marrone. They hit on a few big FA signings and their #1 draft pick, Leonard Fournette, gave their offense an identity. They look to be a formidable out in the 2018 Tournament.
They finished the 2016 campaign a disappointing 4-12, with talent on both sides of the ball. They decided to fire tenured coach Jeff Fischer and decided to bring in a young, offensive minded coach. Sean McVay then decided to hire a seasoned DC in Wade Phillips, which instantly paid dividends on that side of the ball. McVay has Todd Gurley looking like an MVP. He also has mentored young QB, Jared Goff into playing like a top 10 signal caller. From 4-12 to taking the division from battle tested Seattle is NO small feat!
New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers:
Both teams finished 7-9 & 6-10 respectively in 2016. These teams just “re-loaded” in 2017. They have established QB’s, like Oakland , and added pieces. NO & Carolina drafted young RB’s. Right away, the running game took the load off of Drew Brees. They also improved dramatically on Defense. With the addition of their young CB, Lattimore. Their defense started playing complimentary football and created turnovers for Brees to take advantage of.
So What Needs to Happen in 2018 to Send the Oakland Raiders to the Playoffs?
This is a QB driven league and last years MVP candidate is one of the biggest reasons this years Raiders have failed. Its not ALL on him but lets look at how Derek can be better in 2018.
First and foremost he needs to come back physically and mentally healthy. All of the recent injuries, the pinkie, broken ankle, and back are starting to take a toll on #4. As long as he comes back healthy in both the mind and body, I believe we will be fine.
To add to that, drafting a dual threat, 3 down RB, would be the biggest addition to this offense. Look at what KC, Jacksonville, and NO did with their RB’s this year! I know Reggie does not like to draft RB’s high, but he should rethink this strategy. If there is a Stud within the first 3 rounds, we need to pull the trigger.
Who was the last stud RB chosen by the Raiders that actually produced? I know Beastmode looked really good the last 6 weeks of the season. The fact that we had to change our blocking scheme to accommodate Lynch, has been an issue to start the year. Next year he is a year older and he is due $6 million. A young RB, to grow with Carr and Cooper would be a catalyst.
Why Can’t We Catch the Ball?
For whatever reason, our WR’s don’t like catching the ball consistently. Coop, Crabs, and Roberts are tops in the league in drops. Amari Cooper, with ALL the talent in the world, can not stay consistent with catching the ball and staying on the field. When #89 is at his best, The Raiders are a tough team to beat.
Whoever is calling plays for The Silver & Black in 2018, needs to get the ball to Cooper. 2018 is a put up or shut up year for Amari. Crabs has also been inconsistent all season. AT his best, he is a great 3rd down option and a threat in the Red Zone. Something is off with #15. I believe we need to draft his eventual replacement that will push him next year just in case he fades away again in the second half of the season.
What Happened to the Jared Cook we saw vs KC on Thursday night?
This is a coaching issue and Derek needs to make sure we throw the ball in the middle of the field. I know Cook can be inconsistent but he is the best TE we have had for #4. Hopefully Cook and Walford will be featured more in 2018. A TE is a QB’s best friend. Just ask Brady, Alex Smith, and Cam Newton.
The biggest Offensive need has nothing to do with a player. Derek Carr needs an OC that pushes him and is creative. A veteran signal caller that is a “QB” whisperer will go a long way towards our return to the playoffs in 2018. The organization must get this hire correct.
The Pleasant Surprise of the 2017 Raiders, Was the Defense
Once John Pagano was promoted, instantly you saw that our defensive issues were more coaching (Charlie!), than personnel. I know we played some teams down the stretch that did not have their main offensive weapons. You still cant ignore the fact that our Defense, under Pagano, has created more turnovers and got after the QB. Why did it take Jack so long to make this move?? Will Reggie keep Navarro Bowman? The MLB instantly stood out when he arrived. Will Autry, Carrie, and Ellis be wearing the Silver & Black in 2018? With Khalil Mack’s big payday coming, we might let 1 or 2 of these Raiders walk. Add in that we get a healthy Conley and Obi, this Defense should finally be a consistent unit in 2018.
Raider Nation, we ALL are heartbroken. The pieces are there. A few tweaks on offense and Defense, getting #4 physically and mentally healthy, will be keys to getting back to the playoffs in 2018. If The Jaguars and Rams can make things turn around in one year, there is NO reason not to think our Pillaging Crew wont be back in the Tournament this time next year!
Written by: 303Raider