Raiders: All JaMarcus, all 'Ja' time
Aug. 20, 2008
As usual, it was a noisy offseason in Oakland, but there actually might have been more good publicity than bad publicity this time around.
The Raiders made their big splashes in March and April, trading with Atlanta for CB DeAngelo Hall and drafting Arkansas star RB Darren McFadden. Since playmakers were needed on both sides of the ball, Hall and McFadden's additions have the potential to have major impacts.
Oakland also signed Javon Walker to a six-year, $55 million deal in March -- a move that was questioned at the time and looked even worse after Walker was found unconscious in a Las Vegas alley in mid-June. He has since recovered from that attack, but reports are that the oft-injured receiver has been lethargic and unmotivated during training camp.
Other than that, the offseason was pretty much ho-hum -- overpaying for free agent Gibril Wilson, rumors of coach Lane Kiffin being on the chopping block after just one season and having the front office trashed by former player Warren Sapp.
I guess the bad was just as prevalent as the good, huh?
Nonetheless, the Raiders look poised to improve on last year's offensive struggles. Adding McFadden to an already powerful running attack (led by Justin Fargas) should help Oakland move the ball more efficiently. There's still some uncertainty as to how the carries will be divvied up, but both should get their fair share.
The real question is if former No. 1-overall pick JaMarcus Russell is ready to lead the team. He's been handed the keys to Oakland's offense, and the Raiders will sink or swim with him. He has one of the strongest arms in the league, but Kiffin has stressed Russell needs to be most concerned with checking down and completing a high percentage of his passes. Even with vertical threats Walker and Ronald Curry at receiver, you can expect the Raiders to employ a dink-and-dunk passing game that tries to limit mistakes.
A run-first, short-passing attack is a bit of a bizarre-o philosophy given the tools at Oakland's disposal and owner Al Davis' penchant for flashy play. But it just might be what the Raiders need to improve. And it's probably the best recipe for fantasy success from their key players.