Every week we will take a trip to the opposition’s grounds, and interview the editor of the FanSided blog that covers that team.
This week, I asked Chris Shellcroft of JustBlogBaby.com some questions pertaining to the Oakland Raiders. Chris has covered the Raiders for quite some time, and he’s the go-to expert on all things Raiders. His team team is one we love to hate, but Chris runs a great site over there.
Let’s go Inside the Villain’s Venue with JustBlogBaby.
New head coach Hue Jackson went 0-4 in preseason just like Mike Shanahan did in 1989 as the coach for the L.A. Raiders. Shanahan was let go four games into that season. Do you have high hopes with Jackson as your coach?
Despite the poor timing of Al Davis’ decision to fire Tom Cable I do like Hue Jackson as a head coach. Hopefully Coach Jackson won’t go the way of Shanahan and lose his job only to come back as the new coach of a bitter rival only to own the Raiders. The expectations are as high in Oakland as they’ve been in some time. That being said when your team goes 7 years of piling up losses like Bill Belichick does draft picks and all of a sudden an 8-win season becomes a beam of hope the concern is that expectations are unjustified. Still, had the Raiders played a little better outside of the AFC West – a conference they amazingly owned last season – then we would have seen this team in the playoffs.
With the Raiders having a rough preseason, are fans concerned about a lack of depth on the roster?
It is always hard to get a beat on any team in the preseason. Given the lost OTAs due to the lockout, this preseason would have made it difficult for Nostradamus to guess what is going to happen next. But never mind the lockout excuse, the Raiders are very thin at some very key positions. Al Davis is gambling on his younger players to step up and make an immediate impact while learning on the job. No team ever goes through a 16-game season without injury so the collective finger of Raider Nation hovers just inches above the panic button.
What were key areas of concern the Raiders addressed during the offseason?
Yeah…about the whole “addressing team needs in the offseason” thingy…the Raiders pretty much didn’t. Sure, Davis drafted two cornerbacks to help replace Nnamdi Asomugha. But neither DeMarcus Van Dyke nor Chimdi Chekwa are ready for primetime. Stefen Wisniewski was Oakland’s top pick and he’ll start at left guard before eventually moving to his natural position of center some time down the road. While the New Wiz looks like he’ll be a good replacement for Robert Gallery, the Raiders did next to nothing to address the right side of the offensive line where the right tackle position is in worse shape than Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now. Aside from Kevin Boss at tight end, Oakland did next to nothing in free agency.
Is there anything the team didn’t address that could come back to haunt them?
The Raiders failed epically to secure veteran help at the cornerback position. Playing corner in Oakland is a tough as it gets in the NFL. It takes a few years in the Al Davis system to get a corner comfortable with being left all alone on that island for more than 90% of the time they’re on the field. Stanford Routt is going to surprise people by how far he’s come as a cover corner but playing oppostie him is Chris Johnson who runs hot and cold. Beyond those two the Raiders have nothing but youth and inexperience at corner. One key injury is all it takes for this secondary to curmble and drag the entire defense into the Black Hole.
What’s your prediction for tonight’s game?
It has been so difficult to get a beat on the teams this preseason that I’m honestly expecting the unexpected. One thing I’m pretty sure of is that we won’t see anything close to that 59-point explosion that rocked Mile High last season. My guess is we’ll see a close contest that will simply come down to a big play. With Darren McFadden poised to become one of the game’s most dynamic offensive players, I think the Raiders will have a slight advantage only because his talent is such that he can turn a game on its head in one play.