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
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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