99 days to go until we watch the first football game on television of the 2014 NFL season. As the excitement builds toward a new start for all of Raider Nation, computer screens and televisions will be filled with video footage of OTA’s, Mandatory Mini-Camp, and Training Camp, before the Pre-Season begins in August. It’s a new era, and this is truly the first year of the new organization that makes me believe that the Oakland Raiders have a chance to go farther than everybody else is expecting.
If you ask me how far I think the Raiders will go, I will tell you all the way. However, in reality, I just want a winning season that leads to a playoff berth. Let’s face it, this is a contract year for Head Coach Dennis Allen. He either gets this team to the playoffs or he may be seeking employment elsewhere. General Manager Reggie McKenzie has done wonders with the mess this team was in when he took over, and I don’t see him being released. Still, it’s a bit early to be talking about firing coaches.
In his interview on camera at the conclusion of OTA’s on Tuesday, Dennis Allen seemed poised, on point, and excited about this season. He seemed more comfortable than in the past, and I liked the way he addressed the questions. I have been used to seeing him make the same statements over and over in the past, and it was nice to see him acting like he was more sure of himself. Granted, I want to see some more fire and intensity on the field during games, but maybe he is like a rookie receiver who needed a couple of years to find his feet.
Our new team looks really good in their Silver and Black jersey’s. To see Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, James Jones, Matt Schaub, the rookie class, and others out there sporting the Silver and Black definitely sends chills up and down my spine. The DL is bigger, better, faster, and has a lot of depth, the LB corps is stronger with the addition of Khalil Mack, the WR corps is deeper with talent, the OL is meaty, younger, and more talented, and this looks like a team that is hungry for a playoff berth.
LB LaMarr Woodley was interviewed on Tuesday, and he was asked about his playoff bound Raiders comments. Woodley stated, “If you ask a player if he thinks his team is going to the playoffs and he says no, then I don’t want that player on my team. It should be the goal of every player. That’s what we’re trying to do here in Oakland, change the attitude to a winning attitude.”
Leadership was missing in Oakland. Leadership has returned with the additions of veterans like Matt Schaub, Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, James Jones, Carlos Rodgers, Donald Penn, etc… Players who have been to the show, and players who have been on the cusp of a winning season, can teach the younger players to have the right attitude going into the season. That’s how a team turns its losing ways around. That’s how a team finishes a game. The right attitude can make all the difference.
With the Autumn Winds stirring the air of Summer, I believe that Raider Nation can be excited about the upcoming season. The biggest obstacle the Raiders will face will be health. After that it’s just football. I don’t care what the schedule is. If you want to be a winner, you have to beat the best to get to the top. Having a winning season with the supposed toughest schedule will quiet all the haters. There’s no reason why the Raiders can’t beat the teams on the schedule. It’s football, X’s and O’s, and the hardest working team will win. That team will be the Oakland Raiders with their new Silver and Black Attack!