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Pretty Much Screwed: The 2013-14 Oakland Raiders

Welcome to “Pretty Much Screwed,” our definitive guide to the upcoming NFL season. This team-by-team preview details why your favorite franchise might have to start looking forward to next year — and highlight at least one reason for you to be hopeful. Today: we take a look at the Oakland Raiders.

When you think about mediocre football teams of the last decade, you think of the Oakland Raiders. They haven’t had a winning record in the last ten seasons. They’ve finished no higher than third in the AFC West over that stretch. They’ve failed to win more than five games in eight of those years. In short, they suck.

That isn’t going to change this year. Let’s start by taking a look at the quarterback situation in Oakland. Entering training camp, the Raiders have four quarterbacks on the roster: Matt Flynn, Terrelle Pryor, and rookies Tyler Wilson and Matt McGloin.

Their four quarterbacks have collectively started three NFL games.

Carson Palmer led the Raiders to the eighth-best passing offense in the NFL last year, averaging 255.3 yards a game as he passed for 4,018 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions with a 61.1 completion percentage.

In other words, they had a really solid veteran quarterback as their starter and traded him to the Cardinals because they though Matt Flynn and his grand total of two NFL starts was a better option. Are you sure that Al Davis isn’t still calling the shots from his grave!?

It has been proven time and time again that when a backup quarterback racks up a couple of great starts and goes on to get a big contract from another team, he ends up sucking. The Chiefs tried it with Matt Cassel after he excelled when replacing Tom Brady for a year. The Cardinals tried it with Kevin Kolb after he had a few solid starts filling in for Donovan McNabb on the Eagles. Where are both of those guys now? Exactly.

When Matt Flynn ends up sucking, the wheels will fall off and the Raiders will be looking at another four-win season. But wait, there’s more.

Darren McFadden, the best player on the team and their most explosive offensive weapon, can’t figure out how to play entire seasons and he forgot how to play football last year.

In five years with the Raiders, Run DMC has played 11 games a season on average, never topping 13 games. His injury woes have been an issue every single year and the Raiders offense unsurprisingly struggles when he’s out.

But that isn’t the worst of it. The real problem with McFadden heading into the 2013 season is that he was horrendous last year. In 12 games, McFadden rushed for 707 yards on 216 attempts. That’s 3.3 yards per carry, the lowest average of his career and a two-yard drop from his numbers in 2010 and 2011. He scored just two touchdowns in 2012.

It is never a good sign when a player has such a big decline in their fifth year in the league. A sophomore slump is one thing, but it’s rare to see a player regress like that as a veteran and later bounce back. If Darren McFadden can’t get his shit together this year, the Raiders are going to be in very big trouble.

One reason you might not be screwed: The Raiders did make some very solid pickups this offseason and improved their defense immensely, adding cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins, safety Charles Woodson, and a slew of linebackers. That unit was one of the worst in the NFL last year, so an improvement on that end of the field could and should help this team quite a bit.

On offense, they are capable of big things if and only if Matt Flynn and Darren McFadden can produce. Run DMC is a less of a concern because he has already proven his worth. In that vein, the success of the Raiders offense will rely heavily on whether or not Flynn can show that he’s a legitimate NFL starting quarterback.

Actual season prediction: 7-9, third in the AFC West. The 2013 Raiders will have some bright spots and will upset one or two of the better teams that they play, but will fall short of making the playoffs and posting their first winning record in over a decade.

Read the rest of our Pretty Much Screwed previews here.

Photos via San Francisco Chronicle and Getty Images

  • Chris

    What’s so funny about this article is how it’s hyper critical of Oakland, offers scathing reviews for everything with no clear understanding of any of the previous or existing offensive and defensive systems the Raiders have run, and puts them at or near the bottom of the pile of NFL teams this year…

    …then when I’m just about to the point of being completely offended, the author offers a proposed record of 7-9, which is far better than just about any other pundit has offered this offseason.

    With the coaching and scheme changes, and the acquisition of more serviceable talent in the mid-range, I think Oakland will float somewhere between 6-10 and 9-7.

  • Zach Berger

    The general point of our “Pretty Much Screwed” series is to explain how each team in the NFL (even the Packers, Ravens, 49ers, Seahawks, etc.) are pretty much screwed by discussing the things that are most likely to go wrong. With the Raiders, those things would be a Matt Flynn “bust” and a McFadden injury and/or repeat of last season. In reality though they should be a 6-8 win team, in my opinion with their defensive upgrade.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah just like all the writers predicted KC was going to win AFC west last two seasons!

  • kevin

    Good call dude this guy knows nothing. The raiders had their worst tumors removed when they fired Greg Knapp and cut rolando maclain. Mcfadden will get way better numbers this year now that they scrapped the zone blocking scheme and he’s also on a contract year so its do or die. Sure matt Flynn only had two starts but he broke a packers all time record in one of those starts so he has a lot of potential assuming he’s even gonna start. There has been a lot of hype about tyler Wilson so don’t rule him out. You also forgot about our secret weapons. Marcel Reese and the return of jacoby ford. The 2012 raiders were beat up right from the start so just stop forming your opinion from sitting on your moms couch watching espn and start actually watching the games then you’ll see that they will be much better this year. Game one last season they already lost ron bartell jon condo jacoby ford and shantee spencer. Name any team that can lose their long snapper and their two starting corners and their best wide receiver and still be competitive. Next time do your homework first.

  • SpacePirate

    You had pretty decent analysis with regards to most everything, however, you missed the mark with regards to McFadden. While you’re correct that a lot of this season rides on his ability to stay healthy, anyone who followed this team last season would know the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Greg Knapp’s ineffective offensive scheme.

    You could have gotten away with it if you hadn’t tried to be a “witty” nfl writer, and just skipped line about him forgetting how to play football… In that case, we would have just chalked it up to yet another national writer completely missing the actual goings-on with the team.

  • geove80

    I was forced to stop reading. Palmer basically demanded out, and DMacs problem last year was the OC. Stupid donkey writer. When you write about 32 teams, you know nothing much about any of them. Finished with this website

  • jeremy

    If you read it correctly you would have noticed he actually speaks the truth. It’s a series for every team, not just Oakland being “pretty much screwed.” He’s among a few writers who have noticed Oakland’s defense is better and that they should win 7 games. Most writers are calling for the Raiders to have the 1st pick in the draft next year so this writer actually wrote some interesting information.

    He could have wrote it a little better and discussed the other QB’s on the roster but he’s right, the only way the team plays well is if the QB can do his job and they production out of the RB spot.

  • MileHigh

    Darren McFadden had a bad season because he was being used in the wrong offensive scheme for him. Oakland will use a downhill scheme this year and his production will increase. Flynn is a worry though and they don’t have a lot of depth at WR

  • R.D.Carrisosa

    Who ever wrote this article can kiss my ass!

  • prince

    The raiders didnt get rid of carson palmer because they thouht matt flynn was better you retard. They got rid of him because he was overpaid, didnt want to take a pay cut, and said he wanted to leave. And darren mcfadden only averaged 3 yards per carry because their new offensive scheme sucked

  • BB

    What they Fail to point out about Carson Palmer, is that most of the interceptions came early in the the games, an most of the TD’s came late after the Raiders were down 21 points.

  • bardicverse

    When I think of mediocre football teams in the NFL, I think of the San Diego Chargers, the New York Jets, and half of the NFC. In fact, I think there are only about 10 teams in the NFL that rise above mediocre. The other 2/3rds are struggling.

  • Jacob

    As a Raider fan, I’m insulted by this article.


    We want Johnny Football, 1-15 baby!!!

  • Michael Tripp

    I think this is a good article I am a die hard raiders fan and I want the best for them. Its nice to see them get some upgrades. As for the QB position i think matt will do pretty good. If not tyler wilson is a beast it just depends on who gets to start.

  • Gary

    Wow this is stupid … Lol

  • Ben Peterson

    Why the hell would you want a run happy, weaker armed, diva of a QB? Teddy Bridgewater, Jadeveon Clowney, Anthony Barr, hell David Fales is a better choice than Manziel.

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