I hope so, because that's what the Raiders will be playing this year. As much offensive firepower as any team in the league, minus the Colts obviously, and a defense as porous as any you'll ever see. We're not the Oakland Raiders anymore. We're the frickin' Orlando Predators.
But, with that said, we're unquestionably a better football team than we were at any point last year.
We swapped a 1st round pick, a 7th round pick, and a 1st round bust for the most amazing deep threat to ever play the game. Highway freaking robbery.
We've re-signed Jerry Porter to a very affordable contract ($1 million salary for the 1st 3 years) and made him our #2 WR. After the thrashing he put on Champ "Overhyped" Bailey, I can't wait to see what he does to Lenny Walls.
In the slot, a healthy Ronald Curry will be ready to pick up where he left off prior to his injury. Slated to challenge for a starting role in '05, he'll instead resume his duties as the man who makes nickle corners and safeties look foolish.
We signed, albeit probably paying more than we should have, a potential stud in LaMont Jordan. 230 pounds, very good speed and hands. Questions regarding his ability to be a workhorse are about to be answered. He was bonafied beast at Maryland, so he has experience being a 30 touch guy. Still, I'd like to limit him to 20+ touches per game to start. No sense in taking a guy who logged a career high 93 carries in '04 and expecting him to carry 350+ times a year later. Not to say that he can't, but let's not put too much on him at once. Giving Crockett 10 carries a game would really help keep LJ's legs fresh and also serve to prevent injuries. Drafting a back in the middle rounds to back him up would be a great idea also, considering what a colossal waste of space Justin Fargas has proven to be.
IMO, you can never have too many good backs. We should use Minnesota's stable of backs as an example of how are group should look. 4 deep w/ talent throughout...even if Michael Bennett is a brittle, worthless lump of stool, he still has a little talent. If one guy gets hurt, their running game never misses a beat. Lose two guys? Same thing. They just plug in the next guy and keep on truckin'. I envy that.
At TE, Courtney Anderson returns after showing a great deal of promise as a rookie, along with Teyo Johnson, who appears to have matured and really stepped up in the last part of the 2004 season. Doug Jolley, the subject of several trade rumors...all started by and dying w/ me apparently...may return to round out a potentially epic set of pass catching TEs.
Anderson, at 6'6, 270 pounds, has tremendous size for the position and surprisingly good speed for man his size. A pair of soft hands complete what could develop into an awesome package. While none of Oakland's TEs are better than average blockers, Anderson's imposing size would lead you to believe that his potential in that role is very good.
Teyo Johnson may be the most exciting prospect of the bunch. He finally demonstrated that he "wants it" and should challenge for the starting role in camp. A superior athlete with great leaping ability, Johnson gives the Raiders a guy who can split out wide, line up in the slot, or play a basic TE or H-back type of role. Versatility like that is a great quality to have, and I can only hope that Norv gets past his initial dislike of Teyo and gives this man the opportunity to make plays. He's earned it. His potential as a red zone target is also very intriguing.
The offensive line promises to be one of the best in football. Robert Gallery and Jake Grove both proved to be excellent draft choices and should move to their proper positions for the '05 season.
Barry Sims had his best season at LT in 3 years. How is he rewarded? By taking a pay cut and likely being asked to move inside to LG. If this comes to fruition, the left side of Oakland's offensive line may be almost impenetrable.
I've seen enough of Langston Walker to have absolute faith in his ability to play RT at a high level. He may very well be the Raiders' most underrated player on offense. He's huge (6'8, 345), has better feet than he's given credit for, and has played both tackle positions and played them well. He's athletic enough to get downfield as a blocker. He needs to hit the gym and become more powerfull, but beyond that, I don't see anything in his game that would lead me to believe that he's not going to be an excellent bookend.
The RG spot is up for grabs, and while Brad Badger is solid, I like him better as our primary back up. Frank Middleton may be brought back at a much lower salary, and I'm all for this move. He was in great shape and playing very well before the afore mentioned Badger blocked a defender into his legs, ending his season. Otherwise, I'd like to see us draft a young earth mover to complete this very young, very talented group.
Kerry Collins will never be mistaken for a great QB. But he has one of the best deep balls around, and that's where our bread will be buttered this year. Play action deep to this group of pass receivers should keep defensive coordinators awake all night. That play action should be damn effective when you consider that Jordan should have all sorts of running room due to the cushion that DBs will be giving our WRs. There's a reason that Minnesota's RBs always had plenty of running room. That reason wears a black #18 jersey now.
As it stands, our defense won't be stopping many people, so let's get ready for a lot of games where the first team to score 40 points wins.
If you're a betting man, take the over every single week.