The Oakland Raiders will be a different organization beginning with the 2012 NFL season. With the passing of legendary Raider icon Al Davis, the unwavering face of the Oakland franchise since 1963, the 2012 Raiders must now fashion a new identity beyond what Al Davis had formed. The first step of that new identity began when the Raiders traded for quarterback Carson Palmer from the Cincinnati Bengals during the middle of the season last year. The Raiders ended up with a record of 8-8, resulting in a three way tie for first place among the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers, barely missing the playoffs due to tie breakers. With a tragic and tumultuous season behind them, what will the brand new Raiders look like in 2012 and beyond?
With a new beginning supporting them, the Oakland Raiders hired new general manager Reggie McKenzie during this past offseason and in return, McKenzie hired on Dennis Allen to fill the head coaching void left over by Hue Jackson. Also, new offensive coordinator Gregg Knapp has begun to implement a new offense to help supplement both Carson Palmer and Darren McFadden.
Carson Palmer was in an intense deadlock between himself and the Cincinnati Bengals around this same time last year with Palmer demanding to be traded or else he was going to “retire” from football. About half way through the season, Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell went down with a season ending injury and the Raiders made the trade for Palmer. With an entire offseason and a new offensive coordinator, Palmer looks to regain his prolific passing and playmaking ability. Palmer will have some promising young wide outs in Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford. Both these wide receivers will look to take over the passing game in the wake of departed Louis Murphy and Kevin Boss. Darren McFadden was on pace to lead the league in rushing until he was injured and sidelined for the remainder of the season. Both McFadden and Palmer essentially have not played a regular NFL game together. With the mix of both McFadden and Palmer healthy and on the same page, the 2012 Raiders offense should be leaps and bounds better than last year.
Oakland’s defense on the other hand is something that needs to be improved. The Raiders lost defensive players Kamerion Wimbley, Lito Sheppard, Stanford Routt, Jarvis Moss, Trevor Scott, John Henderson, Quentin Groves, and Darryl Blackstock this offseason. In response to this mass exodus of defensive players, the Raiders used four of its six draft picks selecting defensive players, none of them looking like an immediate impact player. Oakland did lock up All Pro safety Tyvon Branch to a multi-year deal securing the safety position for awhile. However, the remaining secondary looks to be a prime target for opposing offensive air attacks. Linebacker, Rolando McClain looks to take over the defense but off the field issues could ruin that notion. The one bright spot on the Raiders defense is its defensive line, anchored by defensive tackles Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly.
The Raiders have gone through a transformation moving from a solid organization knowing exactly who they are and where they come from however a new chapter has begun with the passing of legendary icon Al Davis. With so many changes to the franchise and roster, it is hard to tell where the Raiders will end up when the 2012 season concludes. They play in the AFC’s weakest division but the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos have also made significant improvements this offseason however they have done it with fewer turnovers within their respective organizations. The Kansas City Chiefs have a solid team but were plagued with injuries last season. With so many variables and changes to the Raiders, the outlook for this season may not be as bright as the other three teams in its division when all is said and done.