Al Davis coined the Raiders organizational motto “A Commitment to Excellence”. He was an NFL pioneer and rebel who built the Raiders into one of the elite organizations in the NFL in the 70’s and 80’s. But, the post Y2K Davis transformed from a respected owner and GM into the NFL version of Howard Hughes. The Raiders spiraled into the NFL basement due to Davis’ erratic behavior, coach firings and a stockpile of draft busts.
When Davis passed away in 2011, his son Mark Davis took over control of the team and hired GM Reggie McKenzie from the Packers. Under the new regime, the Raiders have slowly emerged from their 15 year abyss by accumulating young stars through the draft, and a series of smart free agent moves.
Heading into this NFL season, the Raiders boast probably the best young trio of stars in the league in quarterback Derek Carr, wide receiver Amari Cooper, and pass rushing stud linebacker Khalil Mack. The Raiders improved from three to seven wins last season, and for the first time in a long time, there isn’t a black cloud hanging over The Black Hole.
Colin loves the direction the Raiders are headed and predicts the Raiders will win the AFC West in 2016. Today in The Herd, he gave four reasons why:
1. Favorable schedule and edge at quarterback
“In 11 of 16 games, they have they have the better quarterback. Against Phillip Rivers twice. They don’t against Cam, Andrew Luck or Drew Brees. They face the Panthers, Colts and Saints. But, their schedule, the toughest road game is at Kansas City.”
2. Offseason acquisitions
“They have made notable acquisitions. Reggie Nelson, tied for the NFL lead in interceptions. Comes over, safety. Linebacker Bruce Irvin, aggressive pass rusher. They signed the best offensive line free agent, and Pro Football Focus gave only two teams an “A” in the offseason. The Raiders were one of them.”
3. Best offensive line in the NFL
“I consider offensive line the key to NFL franchises. Outside of the Dallas Cowboys, they now may have the best offensive line in the National Football League. Donald Penn, left tackle, top five left tackle. Center Rodney Hudson, top five center. They got the best guard in the free agent market. They now appear to have the best offensive line, not only in their division, but potentially in the AFC.”
4. Best 25 and under stars in the AFC West
“There’s three great young players in the division. The Raiders have all of them. Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, and Amari Cooper. All cheap, all under contract, all healthy.”
The Raiders have been a mess for 15 years, but this is the year they finally emerge from their organizational black hole.