2009 Oakland Raiders Season Preview
2009 Oakland Raiders preview from MadduxSports.com. Along with our team previews Maddux Sports offers winning nfl picks each and every football season. Start winning today!
2009 Oakland Raiders Predictions
By Adam Barone
It’s hard to not see the Raiders as a laughing stock; they’ve been a doormat since they lost the Super Bowl to the Buccaneers. Tom Cable’s “interim” tag was removed, and now he’s officially the head coach. There’s plenty of talent and certainly a lot of speed on this team, but it lacks leadership.
Quarterback JaMarcus Russell has a lot of work to do before he’s considered an NFL quality quarterback. He’s not a great leader, and doesn’t seem capable of taking over a game. Russell completed just 53.8 percent of his passes in 2008, and finished with a 77.1 quarterback rating. Veteran Jeff Garcia was signed to compete with him, but is unlikely to take his job.
There’s a lot of depth at running back, led by burner Darren McFadden. McFadden missed time with toe problems, and finished with just 113 carries. He did average 4.4 yards per carry—something to build on in 2009. Justin Fargas and Michael Bush figure to spend most of their time complimenting McFadden. Fargas plays hard, but is clearly the least talented. Bush is a bruiser who only got 95 carries last season, but also averaged 4.4 yards per carry. Fullback Lorenzo Neal was signed to fill a spot that was vacant a season ago, and should have a huge influence on the running game.
The Raiders’ receivers have tons of speed and very little talent compared to most teams. Tight end Zach Miller led the team in receptions by far with 56. McFadden was second on the team with 29 catches. Johnny Lee Higgins had the most receptions among the receivers. He had 22. Yes, really—22 catches led the wide receivers. Javon Walker and first round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey are also on the roster, but figure to have little impact. Heyward-Bey was the fastest player in the draft, but put up mediocre college numbers.
The projected starting five on the offensive line includes tackles Khalif Barnes and Mario Henderson, guards Cooper Carlisle and Robert Gallery, and center Samson Satele. Barnes was signed as a free agent from Jacksonville after he allowed 9.5 sacks in 2008. The entire group has something to prove.
The defensive line is an interesting group. All four starters underperformed last season. The Raiders were 13th in the league in sacks a season ago with 32. Tackles Tommy Kelly and Gerard Warren each had four sacks, while ends Jay Richardson and Derrick Burgess had three and four respectively. Burgess’ sacks have plummeted quickly over the past four seasons from the 16 he put up in 2005.
Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison, who had 97 and 135 tackles in 2008, will play the weak side and middle. Rookies Slade Norris and Stryker Sulak will compete for the strong side job.
Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha could be the best in the league. Chris Johnson had two interceptions in 2008, and will play the other side. He’ll see a lot of action, as quarterbacks tend to stay away from Asomugha. Safety Michael Huff brought big expectations, but has been a disappointment. He’ll compete for a starting spot along with Hiram Eugene and rookies Mike Mitchell and Tyvon Branch.
Sebastian Janikowski could be the most dynamic kicker in the league. He has a huge, booming leg. Johnnie Lee Higgins is building himself a reputation as a scary punt returner, while Justin Miller is doing the same as a kickoff returner.
They’re still the Raiders. They seem more focused on attaining flash than substance. Russell’s career isn’t showing much promise, and Heyward-Bey was not worth a first round pick. On top of that, Cable appears to be more of a puppet for Al Davis than a capable NFL head coach. It’s hard to see this team climbing out of the league’s basement any time soon.