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Raiders Finish 2011 Season On Sour Note: Big Changes Ahead?

A brief look back at the Raiders' season. Also a look ahead to next year with some speculation on the front office.

On Sunday, the Chargers' victory in Oakland turned what had initially been a very promising season for the Oakland Raiders into a bitter disappointment for the team and all their fans. A win against San Diego would have put the Raiders into the playoffs, as would a victory against the Lions when the Raiders blew a large second half lead. The Raiders played it close enough times to be considered a decent team, but the repeated defensive lapses and failure to put any game away this year contributed to an overall sense of mediocrity.

Offensively, the Raiders are actually in good shape; Carson Palmer played well, the offensive line is as strong as it has been in years, and the receiving corps is young and athletic with tons of upside. Unfortunately, just when the Raiders acquired a field-stretching QB in Palmer, they lost their star running back Darren McFadden to what ultimately became a season-ending injury. The two never played or practiced together and we do not know what the team looks like when both are active.

Even with McFadden out, the responsibility for this season's woes lies squarely on the defense and specifically Defensive Coordinator Chuck Bresnahan. There has been rampant speculation that Bresnahan could be fired sooner than later. Whether he is or not, the defense needs wholesale changes in order to make the Raiders competitive with a difficult schedule on tap for next year, including six teams that will be in the playoffs this year.

On the bright side for the Raiders, Hue Jackson did an excellent job handling all the adversity thrown at him and his team, including the death of Al Davis and the myriad injuries that hampered the team all throughout the season. The Raiders never gave up or quit on Jackson and fought til the end. However, with the loss of Davis, Jackson was forced to take on some general manager duties as well. Mark Davis may seek to hire a full-time general manager this offseason. That may be necessary to acquire to coaching staff the Oakland Raiders need and deserve.