The Oakland Raiders are who we thought they were after only four games. Although the Raiders could be 3-1 right now they are exactly where most NFL pundits had them, in the cellar of the AFC West. While it looks like the Raiders minuscule playoff hopes are now officially over, the season has not been a total bust. It looks like the Raiders have finally found their quarterback of the future in Terrelle Pryor and Dennis Allen’s defense has looked solid so far.
If Terrelle Pryor continues his solid play, the 2013 season will be a net positive as the Raiders might have found their quarterback of the future. Pryor has improved his decision making every day and you can really tell that he is blossoming into a leader of the Raiders. While Pryor will never be a gun slinger, he has the intangibles to become a good west coast offense quarterback.
Dennis Allen’s hybrid defense is finally coming into its own this season. In three out of the four games, the Raiders defense has kept the team into position to win the games. We must remember that Reggie McKenzie has put the defense together on a shoe string budget so the defense is playing remarkably well with one year rentals.
It’s finally time to realize that Darren McFadden will never become a superstar running back in the NFL. Not only has McFadden lost a step but he once again cost the team a victory after getting injured against the Redskins. Although the awful offensive line has not given McFadden much of a chance, getting shut down in 3 of 4 games is inexcusable for any NFL running back. I doubt McFadden will be kept after this year but if he stays expect him to be part of a running back committee.
The biggest weakness on the Raiders has to be the atrocious offensive line. While injuries to Jared Veldheer and Menelik Watson have hurt the team, the inexcusable play of the rest of the starters has kept the team in the gutter. Most people thought the offensive line has played decently because of the lack of sacks they have given up but yesterday’s 7 sack performance by the Washington Redskins proved that Pryor was scrambling away from the pressure.
Reggie McKenzie should be blamed for the offensive line play as both his major acquisitions last year have been epic flops. Last year’s major free agent signing Mike Briesel has been a major disappointment at guard and is probably starting for the last time in his career. Tony Bergstrom who was McKenzie’s first draft pick as the Raiders general manager was put on IR but he was beaten out by undrafted free agent Lucas Nix before the season started.
The Raiders must use the next 12 games to figure out who will be on the team next year. For the first time in recent memory, the Raiders will have 70 million dollars in cap room to bring in prized free agents.