Raiders Remain Influx
Year two of Jon Gruden and the final year in Oakland bring the Raiders to a critical moment for their future. This year will define their beginning years in Las Vegas and future hopes in becoming a contender again.
Raiders Current State
The Raiders first eight picks in the draft were peppered with players from Clemson and Alabama. The significance of these picks being these two teams have played in the National Championship three out of the last four seasons. The hope the winning culture built within these players will breed into the team going forward. The picks addressed several holes in the roster, including both lines and the secondary.
The team also signed fifteen free agents including receiver Tyrell Williams, lineman Trent Brown, and Vontaze Burfict. The majority of these signing are expected to become contributors to the 2019 squad.
The Raiders also took a risk by trading for the enigmatic Antonio Brown. Brown who forced his way out of Pittsburgh after disagreements with Ben Roethlisberger, the front office, and the coaching staff can raise the game of Derek Carr.
In 2016, Carr became an MVP candidate and may have won if not for a broken fibula ended his season. Carr signed a five-year, $125 million contract extension before the 2017 season. However, the Fresno State product struggled to reach his old form. Carr threw for a paltry 19 touchdowns last season. In his defense, Carr’s completion percentage of 68.9 led the American Football Conference last season.
Brown this training camp and preseason is an unneeded and unfortunate distraction. Brown suffered a frostbite injury while wearing inappropriate footwear in a cryotherapy chamber before camp. The injury kept him out the majority of training camp. Now Brown continues to challenge the league over his helmet choice. Brown initially chose a helmet that the NFL disqualified for not meeting safety standards.
Brown is now on his second grievance with the league, and his occasional cameos at practice make his look like a prima donna and with special privilege over others. This type of behavior is toxic in a locker room with so many young players. Carr and Gruden will need to work hard to keep the team together and focused.
The big problem for the Raiders is the team is counting on inexperienced players in a division with two teams that won 12 games last season, and a veteran filled Denver Broncos. I do however expect the Raiders to win more than their expected win total of six games and also struggle to find an identity going into Las Vegas in 2020.
Elway and Broncos Bank on Experience
The Denver Broncos have been searching for a signal-caller since 2015. The year the club won the Vince Lombardi Trophy and Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning rode off into the sunset.
The Ravens and Lamar Jackson Looking to Silence Non-Believers
The Baltimore Ravens have ushered in a new era with Lamar Jackson being the unchallenged top quarterback on the roster. Super Bowl champion quarterback Joe Flacco now resides in Denver.
Don’t Sleep on Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars came into last season with Super Bowl dreams. The team looked to be the real deal after starting the season 2-0.