Crossing the Gap

By MikeBullock  |   Tuesday, August 31, 2010  |  Comments( 0 )

Oakland Raiders
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Impatient fans, tired of the seven year drought of anything resembling greatness want a fourth Lombardi Trophy in Oakland next February. Many pundits are giving Oakland a solid shot at winning the AFC West, and even one columnist explores the possibility of Oakland being the best if they moved to the NFC West.

However, when looking at it pragmatically, the team still has a long way to go before they can breathe the rarified air enjoyed by the 1983, ’80 and ’76 Raiders. Sure, they had an uncharacteristically spectacular draft, buoyed even more by the trade for Jason Campbell. They also brought in the best offensive coordinator the team has seen since Greg Knapp headed north for Seattle. Additionally, the team upgraded the linebacker position with the acquisition of Kamerion Wimbley. However, the team didn’t address a few other key areas that every championship Raider team has had solidly in place.

Offensive Line. Guys like Jim Otto, Gene Upshaw, Bob Brown, Art Shell, Donnie Mosebar and Steve Wisniewski never underachieved. They didn’t have off years nor did they stand there staring blankly at a defensive lineman who was running past them to knock the bejebits out of their quarterback.

When all is said and done, Robert Gallery, Khalif Barnes and Langston Walker probably won’t be remembered with the aforementioned Raiders of old. When Rich Eisen dubs you “Not So Super” Mario Henderson, chances are, you won’t be starting in the ‘Bowl anytime soon. Head coach Tom Cable, a guy who climbed the ladder as an alleged offensive line guru, he’s yet to prove this is really his area of expertise. While some say coaches make great players and others state players make coaches look great, the truth is somewhere in the middle and Oakland has neither piece of the great offensive line puzzle in place heading into the fourth week of the preseason.

Running Backs. This was discussed briefly last week, focusing mainly on Darren McFadden who has yet to live up to his potential. With Michael Bush breaking his thumb in last weekend’s game against the 49ers, the Raider rushing attack looks even more disheartening this week.

Marcus Allen. Mark van Eeghen. Clem Daniels. Bo Jackson. Napoleon Kaufman. Charlie Garner.

Once again, it’s hard to imagine based on what we’ve seen so far that Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, Michael Bennett or Rock Cartwright will earn their place with the rushing legends of Raider greatness. Yet, Oakland also failed to properly address this in the off season as well.

The Raiders did address a need at quarterback, linebacker and defensive line, all areas the team needed to build on. However, they’re still a few bricks shy of bridging the gap from NFL laughing stock to Super Bowl glory.
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