Unless Dennis Allen and Jason Tarver have some sort of mad genius defensive scheme then the bulk of the burden for winning games in 2012 will fall on the shoulders of the Oakland Raiders’ offense. With regards to that offense it’s going to take a healthy Darren McFadden, a consistent Carson Palmer and the continued development of Oakland’s young receivers to take the next step towards the playoffs.
Obviously McFadden’s health is without question the biggest X-factor there is in the East Bay. But the receivers are just as big a factor in the grand scheme of things.
As deadly as McFadden is just imagine how impossible it will be to defend him should Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore all require constant attention from opposing defenses. Suddenly the running lanes for Run DMC will triple whenever he’s the lone back in an Ace formation and the talented receivers draw man coverage while the linebackers are worried about biting on a potential play fake.
Last season saw DHB finally resemble something of a legit #1 threat at receiver. Though Ford wasn’t healthy enough to show all he can do there was enough evidence to suggest the connection between he and Palmer can be deadly. And we already know that Moore could become one of the bigger draft steals in recent history.
While all three showed plenty of promise there is still much work to be done.
All three must concentrate on becoming more consistent. Week in and week out you never knew what to expect from each. Ford was in and out of the lineup due to injury. DHB would be a major factor in passing game one week then couldn’t even find the field the next. The hope for Moore is that his up and down performance was more related to being a rookie then it is a sign of things to come.
There’s also the familiarity factor of learning to play with Palmer. At no point during his half-season as a Raider did Palmer ever play with a full compliment of offensive weapons. For every quarterback it is crucial to develop a chemistry with the receivers he’s trusting to be in the right place at the right time. In a short amount of time there were moments when you felt Palmer was on the same page as his receivers so just imagine what can happen with a full offseason and camp to work with.
But all of this is dependent on the young receiving corps in Oakland to keep grinding getting 1% better everyday. Given the offseason workouts Palmer was putting in with some of his targets it’s already looking like the foundation is being laid. If that weren’t enough there’s also some early competition heating up before camp with rookies Juron Criner and Rod Streater pushing Louis Murphy for not only a role but a roster spot.
All in all it’s a vital season for the Raiders receivers who are going to be under the microscope when camp opens. Hard to believe this franchise was barren at the position three years ago and now they’re sitting on a potential embarrassment of riches.