Answering Raider Nation's questions

Answering Raider Nation's questions

Raiders

Answering Raider Nation's questions

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OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 25: The Raider Nation in the famous black hole cheer on their Oakland Raiders as the Oakland Raiders host the Detroit Lions at McAfee Stadium on August 25, 2006 in Oakland, California. (Photo by David Paul Morris /Getty Images)

Questions continue to pile up about the state of the Raiders. Don’t tell the fans that this is supposed to be the down time of the year for the team. They won’t listen. In this Answering Raider Nation’s questions session, we will delve deeper into the potential record of the team, the current state of head coach Tom Cable and the status of another team in the AFC West division.

R. Wannan says: “I have seen a lot of hype about the Raiders being a much more improved team. Realistically, what are the Raiders chances of finishing above 8-8, making the wild card, and/or winning the AFC West?”

I think the real hump that Raider Nation wants to see them get over at this point is just to not lose 11 games this year. Once they hit six wins that would be a good thing. But it’s not good enough. This team showed potential in both 2008 and 2009. However, they failed to show consistency in 2009. One of the things Coach Tom Cable preached all of last year was winning three in a row. They failed to even win two in a row. Last preseason many fans called for the 8-8 record based on two big wins at the end of the 2008 season. With a nice draft class, in addition to some good trades, I think anything less than 8-8 would be a disappointment.

So realistically, in a weak division with the Chiefs and Broncos, as well as the Chargers missing pieces like Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill, I’d say the gods are smiling upon them. I give them a 30 percent chance as a wild card team, 20 percent chance to win the AFC West and a 50 percent chance of going 8-8…realistically.

Apr 30, 2010; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Hue Jackson (left) and coach Tom Cable at mini camp at the Oakland Raiders practice facility. Photo via Newscom

S Jay Bruin wants to know “Based on what you’ve seen, heard, read, etc. What do you think Cable’s potential as a coach is? Or have we already seen him be as good as he can be? I guess my real question is: Can he be a winner in this league or is he keeping the seat warm for another coach…Hue Jackson?”

Tom Cable had this to say regarding his new offensive coordinator:

“Being able to have [Hue Jackson] focus on [the offense] the whole time helps us with the other coaches to go out here every day and work on something and improve on something and I think you’re seeing that happen. I’m able to focus on personnel all the time now, so this team how I see it, what I think it needs or doesn’t need or this or that is very much on my mind 24-7 now. I think that the development of the rookies, the development of the coaching staff, what are they doing, how are they coaching, how are we teaching? I think all of those things are things I get to do now that before were just kind of a secondary thought, there just wasn’t enough time.”

That being said, I think Cable has a Madden-esque quality about him. His players really like him and he is a great motivator. It’s premature to compare him to Madden, I understand that, but you have to give him credit for the changed mentality. This team’s atmosphere is night and day compared to the pre-Cable era. On top of that, he’s quite honest and upfront with the media regarding the team. He is not trying to hide behind any bogusness. He understands the situation in Oakland and he is a fan of the team prior to being the coach, so you have to give him credit there. A lot of folks think he is behind some of the more rational moves to the roster recently as well. I do not think that we’ve seen the best of Tom Cable yet.

As far as Hue Jackson being a head coach, the thing that concerns me if I am a Raiders fan is a turnaround of the offense. If the offense shows drastic improvements this year, Cable will likely stay as head coach with the best record the team has had in years and Jackson will likely get offers from mediocre teams to be their head coach. For the sake of the franchise, let’s hope he likes the beaches and weather in California.

Marcus McNeill of the San Diego Chargers in a 20-19 victory over the AFC rival Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego,CA.on November 9, 2008 Photo via Newscom

Dark Kush says: “Bret, did you see the Chargers sign veteran LT Thomas? What does this mean other than insurance if McNeil sits?”

This is very interesting news on the Chargers front; the holdout of not only Marcus McNeill, who has started 62 career games at left tackle for the Chargers since 2006, but the holdouts of Shawne Merriman and Vincent Jackson as well. All three of these players are crucial, I believe, to the Chargers continuing their domination of the division and any chance they have of making a Super Bowl run this year.

To think a guy like Tra Thomas (who used to be good) can take the place of s legitiment left tackle when he is on his last legs is almost ridiculous and certainly at the very least it is asking a lot from him. He has a lot of mileage on the engine and he only managed to start three times last year in Jacksonville where their line is going through a major rebuilding period. I think it was more of a scare tactic move by Chargers G.M. A.J. Smith, and it was a poor scare tactic at that.

Smith recently said, “It hurts when you don’t have your players. How are you going to win a championship without your left tackle and your wide out? I’m sick about it. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how anybody could be more upset about this than me.”

Sounds to me like somebody is about to surrender, and it also looks bad on Smith that the Jets just gave a six-year $60 million extension to their left tackle, D’Brickashaw Ferguson. I’d be really surprised if McNeill didn’t suit up on opening day with a new deal in his back pocket. Merriman will most likely be there by training camp and Vincent Jackson may remain in the air for a while with a three-game suspension looming over his head. Don’t be shocked if Tra Thomas gets cut when the Chargers go down to the final 53.

Email me your Raiders questions @ bret@tfdssports.com

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