Welcome to “This Is Totally Your Year,” our overly optimistic preview of the 2014-15 NFL season for all 32 teams. We’ve broken down why every team — yes, even your team (and yes, even your team, Rams fans) — will win it all this year. We’ll also give some reasons for pessimism and even estimate an actual season prediction. Next up: The Oakland Raiders.
Oakland Raiders fans are society’s misfits: forged in the furnaces of Mt. Doom and brought forth to be the NFL’s official rebels and iconoclasts. Except for those guys over in Section 55 … they’re just assholes.
The Oakland Raiders gave us Al Davis, who if he couldn’t beat you on the field, would beat you in court. Also John Madden, Kenny Stabler, Big Ben Davidson and three Super Bowl titles. But most of all they gave us Raiders fans, who have done more than anyone or anything to disprove the stereotype of Northern California being a haven for the soft and and the metrosexual. One fears for his very life — or if that’s an exaggeration, certainly his wallet — when venturing near The Black Hole. A Raiders game there is a combination of shows by KISS and GWAR, with Season Five of “The Walking Dead” thrown in.
The team has done much to live up to that standard of mutant badassery — especially in the 1960s and ’70s, when the Oakland Coliseum was a barren, lawless land where the rougher-hewn NFL rejects went to finish their careers. But then came the 21st century and soft, total busts like QB Jamarcus Russell, TE Teyo Johnson and OL Robert Gallery … and this:
To be fair, “Raider Rusher” was a product of an NFL youth program, and most teams had their own big-head version. But for the once-proud Outlaw Nation to have to be reduced to displaying this live-bobblehead kids toy on the field was just too sad to witness.
Had Al Davis lost his touch? Moot point, as the Raiders’ founder/owner has left this mortal coil. In his place is his son, Mark Davis, and his amazing, brilliantly confounding hair.
Can Davis the Younger bring back the swagger, the glory of old? Oakland has had back-to-back 4-12 seasons, and some are predicting even worse for 2014-15. But the Raiders are counting on a young gun to make sure that doesn’t happen. Enter Derek Carr, younger brother of former NFL quarterback David Carr.
The Hyperbole and Exaggeration Police have issued a warrant for Raiders receiver James Jones, who upon learning that Carr had been named the starter at QB over Matt Schaub on Monday, immediately compared Carr to Aaron Rodgers … and A-Rod. What? San Francisco Chronicle:
“He’s really calm, really cool in the pocket,” Jones said of Carr. Jones spent time in Green Bay catching passes from Rodgers. “He acts like he’s been there before. I’ve been calling him mini A-Rod since he got here.”
Pass the popcorn, this season will be fun.
Fun fact: the Carrs are the only brothers to both start their NFL openers since at least 1950, according to STATS. David did it in 2002 with the Houston Texans.
There will be six new offensive starters, among them Carr and RB Maurice Jones-Drew from the Jaguars. Veteran Darren McFadden is also back, so if the offensive line improves, this will be a potent running game. Who will Carr throw to? Besides Jones, WRs Rod Streater and Andre Holmes — both had good preseasons.
Concerns? We’ve got a few. Defense, for one. Tackle Pat Sims is great, but the others out front are all newcomers, so that’s a big ? Among the acquisitions are DE LaMarr Woodley, DE Justin Tuck (from the Giants), and Antonio Smith, a dynamic presence who could be the best of them all. Khalil Mack, who unexpectedly fell to No. 5 in the draft, will play various positions.
The defensive backfield is also shrouded in mystery. S Tyvon Branch is back from a broken leg, Charles Woodson is 37 years old, and veterans Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown are in from across the Bay at CBs. D.J. Hayden is back after going on the IR last season with abdominal surgery.
Prediction: 9-7, possible playoffs. And who knows what can happen if Carr catches fire?