Pro Football Teams


Oakland Raiders:

Trying to Turner the corner from last year

The Oakland Raiders have a long rich tradition of winning games. The team has the highest winning percentage of any franchise in the National Football League with a .606 winning percentage from a record of 391-252-11. The Raiders have won 15 divisional titles, been to the playoffs 21 times, won four conference championships and three Super Bowls. The team is characterized by their over zealous owner Al Davis. Many people have characterized Al Davis as a guy that messes with his team too much or a bad owner, but most cities would kill to have an owner that cared that much about their team. Davis was actually the head coach of the team from 1963-’65 and had a record of 23-16-3. The team arguably had its greatest season in 1976. The team was led by head coach and now famous commentator and namesake of the highest selling video game franchise ever, John Madden. The team had players on it like quarterback Ken Stabler, tight end Dave Casper, offensive lineman Art Shell, wide receiver Cliff Branch, offensive lineman Gene Upshaw, defensive back Jack Tatum, and linebacker Phil Villapiano. The team swash buckled their way through the regular season and finished it with a 13-1 record the best in the NFL that year. The city was in a frenzy trying to get Raiders tickets for the playoff games. In the first round of the playoffs the Raiders squared off against the New England Patriots and just pulled it out with a 24-21 victory. In the AFC Champion, the Raiders met up with the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. The Raiders made quick work of them by beating them with a score of 24-7. In the Super Bowl the Raiders were pitted against the Minnesota Vikings. The game was never close and at one point in the third quarter the Raiders were up 19-0. The final whistle blew and the Raiders won their first Super Bowl with a 32-14 victory.

Last season was a huge disappointment for the defending AFC Champion Oakland Raiders. The team seemed to age 10 years over one off-season. They were coming off the line slow, couldn’t catch the ball or make a tackle; it just didn’t look like the same team that was in the Super Bowl just a few months before. The team also just seemed to quit on then head coach Bill Callahan. Guys were hurt, the defense couldn’t stop anyone and the offense couldn’t move the ball. It was just a bad season all around and it showed in their 4-12 record which was the second worst record in the NFL.

In the off-season the team knew it had to go in another direction. They fired Callahan and brought in Norv Turner to lead the team. The team let go of a number of key contributors like wide receiver Tim Brown, linebacker Eric Barton, linebacker Bill Romanoski, running back Charlie Garner, and offensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy. The team then brought in aging defensive tackles Warren Sapp and Ted Washington to help stop the run and quarterback Kerry Collins to challenge Rich Gannon for the starting position. Other additions to the team included cornerback Ray Buchanan, guard Ron Stone, and defensive back David Terrell.

In the draft the Raiders needed to make sure they didn’t miss out on anyone since they needed a great deal of youth to come in and rejuvenate the teams winning ways. With the number two pick in the draft the Raiders selected Iowa offensive tackle Robert Gallery. At 6’7” and 323 pounds Gallery should be the cornerstone of the offensive line for years to come. With their second pick the Raiders drafted Virginia Tech center Jake Grove. With these two picks the Raiders took two huge steps in solidifying a line that was porous, at best, in 2003.

On the offensive side of the ball the Raiders will probably still have some trouble moving the pigskin. Quarterback Rich Gannon didn’t look like the Gannon we all saw in 2002 and then was injured for more than half of the season. Their best running back Charlie Garner defected to the Buccaneers and wide receiver Jerry Rice is only a shell of his former self. It’s going to be a long fall for the Oakland offense unless everyone steps up their game under new coach Norv Turner.

On defense, the team looks much improved. The team couldn’t stop the run to save their lives last year and finished dead last against the run. The team then brought in close to 700 pounds of run stopping ability in defensive tackles Ted Washington and Warren Sapp. The team should be better than they were last year; they couldn’t get any worse.

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