11 years without a winning season may make a team think they’ve hit bottom and there’s no way to go but up. Those expectations should change pretty quickly for a team with the hardest schedule of the 2014 NFL season.
Rookies Khalil Mack and Derek Carr were still in middle school when the Oakland Raiders went to the Superbowl in 2002. Since then the team has not even come close to a playoff berth.
On paper the Raiders look like they may have building blocks for a good team – Mack and Carr were considered two huge steals in the 2014 draft, the free agent additions of veterans Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, and James Jones give the team plenty of talent and much needed depth. The tools were there for a successful season until the Raiders got the 2014 schedule.
The schedule consists of 6 games against the AFC West (all playoff teams), the entire NFC West (Rams, Cardinals, 49ers and of course the Seahawks), the AFC East and the much improved Cleveland and Houston teams. The Raiders will have their work cut out for them just to stay competitive.
Carr versus Schaub will be interesting to see. While Carr opened eyes at Fresno State in 2013, Matt Schaub fell from the good graces of the Texans, throwing a pick-6 in 4 straight games – an NFL first – before being injured, benched and eventually cut. Only the strongest QB will be able to cut it in a division that has Philip Rivers, Alex Smith and the reigning MVP Peyton Manning.
The Raiders report to training camp in Napa Valley, California on July 24.