Even the Raiders faithful must be laughing at this headline. And I can't wait to see the derogatory comments hurled my way, like, "LMAO you've got to be kidding," or "ROFL go back to sports school." But I stand by my statement, and here's why.
A good pal of mine, let's call him Spencer, is a die-hard Raiders fan (so much so that his van broke down the other day and the first thing he said he worried about was that he was going to miss the Raiders' preseason game). Every year, he tells me, "The Raiders are gonna be so good! This is the year!" He proceeds to list the reasons why, going down the list of cut players and new players that will make a difference. And every year, I don't believe him (him being excited about JaMarcus Russell last preseason is one reason). But he said something the other day that made me think: he told me if the Raiders still won five games with "one of the worst quarterbacks in the past three decades" at the helm, just imagine what they could do with a decent QB (insert Jason Campbell here).
And he has a point. JaMarcus Russell was a huge reason why the Raiders looked like a high school football offense last year. He was, in the words of Bill Walton, HORRIBLE. In his three seasons with the Raiders, he had 52.1 percent completions, 18 TDs to 23 INTs, and averaged 131.7 yards per game passing. You're supposed to get better each year, but JaMarcus was at his worst last season: 50 percent completions, 107 yards passing per game, and three TDs to 11 INTs in 12 games. You insert a QB in Campbell who is at least regarded as competent in the league, he will not only make the offense better, he won't lose games single-handedly.
RBs Michael Bush and Darren McFadden were still able to distinguish themselves last year despite all the problems with the team -- they are definitely talented and, although not clear No.1s by any means, they can move the ball forward and break out a long run every once in a while.
The defense will only help matters. Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy and rookie second round pick LaMarr Houston looked solid in Oakland's 17-9 preseason victory against Dallas on Thursday -- with two sacks apiece in the first half -- and rookie LB Rolando McClain looked solid, though not spectacular. Of course, seven-year vet Nnamdi Asomugha, one of the top shutdown corners in the league, returns. The defense is young and should have some growing pains, but is clearly talented and Raiders fans should be excited about seeing this D develop in the coming years.
Now, I'm not saying the Raiders will be world beaters, but they should certainly be competitive and improve on their 2009 win-loss record. A .500 record is a bit of a reach (though possible), but the 2010 Raiders at least shouldn't make fans climb into a Black Hole, never to return.