The Oakland Raiders went into the season with lofty expectations of winning the division and making the playoffs. In the end, they became the first team since the merger in 1970 to go undefeated in their division and not make the playoffs.
While they may have come up short in reaching their season-long goals, it was a season of resurgence for the silver and black. Despite not achieving the desired results, the Raiders took their Nation on a memorable ride back to respectability.
This season was viewed as one in which Tom Cable received a reprieve to turn the Raiders around. And through a collective team effort, that is exactly what he did.
It was a known fact that, despite the players wanting to play for him and playing hard for him, he was on thin ice. A playoff run was the only thing that was going to insure a 2011 return. Like it or not it was the right decision. The timing was curious, but the writing was on the wall.
Hue Jackson was hired as the offensive coordinator last offseason and tasked with turning the offense into a productive unit. That too was a mission accomplished, as the Raiders improved from the 31st ranked offense in 2009 to 10th overall in 2010.
The road to respectability is filled with potholes. The 2010 season was filled with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Oakland Raiders snapped their seven year streak of losing 11 games in a season, going 6-0 in the division. Offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson, proved to be a leader of men and a solid offensive mind. Under his watch the offense improved dramatically and the running game, fueled by the dynamic tandem of Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, became the strength of the team.
The improvement on offense wouldn’t have been possible without an offensive line who as a group stepped their game up in run blocking.
The 2010 draft class was one of the best in recent memory and made an immediate impact which bodes well now and for the future.
The defense improved; the defensive line and the linebacker group became strengths of the team. Moving Richard Seymour to defensive tackle was huge. Tommy Kelly also had his best season. John Henderson and Desmond Bryant were solid in the defensive tackle rotation. The versatile Lamarr Houston had a great rookie campaign and made an immediate impact, while Matt Shaughnessy was solid, providing the Raiders with two tremendous young talents at defensive end for the foreseeable future.
The linebacker group, the team’s deepest in years, was huge — rookie Rolando McClain solidified the middle, Kamerion Wimbley and Trevor Scott made their presence felt on the strong side and weak side positions.
In the secondary, Nnamdi Asomugha had another stellar season at cornerback.
The Raiders were great in the division, but 2-8 against the rest of the league. This team needs to improve on shutting teams down, making the opponent one-dimensional, and getting off the field on third down.
Penalties! Drive killing and game altering type penalties. The Raiders shot themselves in the foot so many times, it was a wonder they were able to walk off the field.
Defensively, stopping the run continues to be a major issue and cause for concern. The safeties were exploited on more than one occasion. The second half of the Jacksonville game comes to mind. Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch made a lot and missed a lot of tackles. There were too many breakdowns in coverage. Tyvon Branch alone surrendered eight touchdown passes.
There is as always room for improvement at various positions, but there aren’t any glaring needs heading into 2011. The improvements can be made via the draft, veteran free agency, and with un-drafted rookie free agents. Mostly, this team just needs more disciplined play and consistency.
The Raiders are in need of continuity that can only be had if Hue Jackson is promoted to head coach. The team will begin 2011 with their ninth head coach since they returned to the east bay seventeen seasons ago. But they’re losers no more and should by all means be considered a team on the rise.
TFDS would like to welcome Jeff Little to the site as a contributor. Please let him know your thoughts on his work in the comment box. Jeff is a longtime internet sports journalist and host of national internet sports talk radio. We are glad to have him and look forward to many future contributions.