Oakland Raiders 2019 Season Preview

Russell S. Baxter

Oakland Raiders 2019 Season Preview

By Brandon Fazzolari

Special to Pro Football Guru

He knew his first season in his second stint as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders would be a challenge. But Jon Gruden’s patience was surely put to the test with his team firmly in a rebuild during 2018. However, daring trades amid the campaign thrusted the Raiders into a thrilling and productive offseason. With a new general manager in Mike Mayock, an active free agency period and at least four top-notch draft prospects, Oakland seems destined to host an improved club during their final year in the Bay area.

Offense: Derek Carr may not be the best player on the team, but he’s definitely the most important. The drop-off from Carr to the backups on this roster is colossal. If he stays healthy and reverts to the lofty barometer he established in 2016, the Raiders should pile up yards and points. The offensive line has limitless potential once all the pieces are in place. Look for 2018 first-rounder Kolton Miller to be stellar. Trent Brown will be on the other tackle spot fresh off a fine stint with the Patriots. Guard Gabe Jackson and versatile center Rodney Hudson are now joined by Richie Incognito, who came out of retirement to join this team, will eventually give this club a formidable middle. But the latter (suspended) and Jackson (injury) will miss the start of the regular season for difference reasons. Rookie Josh Jacobs figures to spearhead the ground attack. Add to the mix arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL in Antonio Brown, and Oakland fields a very competitive offense.

Defense: When it comes to the defense, things can only get better. Oakland finished 2018 with a pathetic 13 sacks. Mayock jumped at the chance of obtaining Clemson pass rusher Clelin Ferrell. Ferrell, Arden Key and Maurice Hurst form a very young andquick defensive line. While the pass rush may take a step forward, the run defense is a concern. While the Raiders went young along the line, they grabbed experienced and aggressive linebackers in Brandon Marshall and controversial Vontaze Burfict. Have you ever seen a better sports marriage than Burfict and the Silver and Black? The biggest question mark for the 2019 Raiders has to be the secondary. Their names are Lamarcus Joyner, Gareon Conley, Johnathan Abram and Trayvon Mullen. Will they gel as a unit? They better when one thinks about a schedule that includes the Chiefs, Chargers, Colts, and Packers.

Special Teams: The Raiders found their placekicker in Daniel Carlson who failed with Minnesota early last season but prospered in Oakland – making 16of-17 field goals. There will be a position battle during camp between the incumbent, Johnny Townsend and rookie A.J. Cole. Stay tuned because the Raiders were last in the league in net punting in 2018.

Prediction: Don’t expect the Raiders to compete for a playoff spot in 2019. They have a very difficult front end of their schedule which could leave them around 2-6 at midseason. However, once they weather that early-season onslaught and start to mesh as a roster, look for Oakland to improve down the stretch. Look for seven wins and a year from now the team to be a contender in 2020 when they make their move to the desert of Las Vegas.

Win-Loss Record: 7-9 (3rd Place, AFC West)

Brandon Fazzolari (@spot_bills) is a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan and a Vegas sports reporter for Vegas the Network.

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