Oakland Raiders fans went into this offseason expecting the team to focus on the defense. But the Raiders threw everyone off, going more with offense.
It didn’t take long for the Oakland Raiders to identify QB Derek Carr as their franchise QB. He was expected to redshirt his rookie year because there wasn’t a good offense around him. But he proved that he was ready to play right away no matter what the situation was.
He handled himself well, especially considering the situation around him. Then the Raiders knew they had a franchise QB to build around. So in 2015, they started with WRs, drafting Amari Cooper in the first round and signing Michael Crabtree in free agency.
And year by year, until 2016, the Raiders upgraded their O-line. They now have the biggest and most expensive O-line in football and they are properly called “Carr insurance.” So in 2016, the Raiders went 12-4 behind seven 4th-quarter comebacks by Carr.
The offense was ranked No. 6 in the NFL while the defense statistically never recovered from a historically bad start. So the perception was that the defense is horrible but it wasn’t. The offense is the team’s strength but the defense played top-10 football after the first five games.
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So while the defense can use more talent, GM Reggie McKenzie doesn’t see an emergency with the defensive personnel. So he goes out and gets Carr more weapons with speed and big-play ability. He starts out with Cordarrelle Patterson to add speed outside.
Before this acquisition, Amari Cooper was the only true big-play WR with blazing speed. With Patterson now there, Cooper will have more opportunities to work from the slot. And when defenses are too concerned with Cooper and Crabtree, Patterson will burn them.
And that wasn’t enough, McKenzie went out a got Jared Cook, a TE with exceptional athleticism for a WR. LBs will not be able to run with him and CBs and Ss won’t be able to jump with him. When playing the Raiders offense opposing defenses won’t be able to overplay anything.
And as long as Adrian Peterson is unsigned, I can’t help thinking what he could bring. Even if he doesn’t come, this 2017 free agency period was about shopping for Carr. There’s a lot of defensive talent in this draft so we should expect a defense-heavy draft from Raiders, I think.