Ever since Derek Carr was given a huge (or not so huge) contract, the Oakland Raiders have been a hot topic for NFL experts and fans alike. With a big contract comes big expectations. The Raiders have made huge progress in recent years, but with a $125,000,000 contract come super expectations. Can the Carr and the Raiders live up to these expectations? Or are the critics right when they say the silver and black aren’t quite back just yet.
Are the Oakland Raiders Overrated?
Well, while the issue isn’t black and white, it isn’t silver and black either. There are reasons to doubt that the Raiders are Super Bowl bound in 2017. And while Tom Brady represents the biggest roadblock, there are a couple more. Let’s look deeper.
Experience Over All
A huge strike against the Oakland Raiders is their inexperience. They’ve had exactly one playoff game since their embarrassing Super Bowl loss in 2002 and it didn’t go over well, mainly because they were without Derek Carr. Of course, this plays into the argument as well, as Derek Carr has yet to take a snap in the post-season.
This is a logical argument, but not a sensible one. It’s true that an experienced quarterback should be a sure thing, but we’ve seen veterans choke and rookies thrive. It’s almost ironic that people believe Derek Carr can’t beat Tom Brady and the Patriots because of his inexperience when Tom Brady wasn’t half the quarterback Carr is now when he helped lead New England to their first Lombardi in his first season.
Given the success of Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, and even Joe Flacco in the post-season, it’s irresponsible to disregard a team because of inexperience. Especially when the likes of Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, and Philip Rivers made a career out of struggling in the playoffs. It makes sense on paper, but in practice, there are far too many variables to consider.
Defense Wins Championships
Last year, Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders made headlines for their late game heroics. And while it proved that Derek Carr has nerves of steel, it highlighted another problem. Oakland’s defense just isn’t good. They played well in spots, and Khalil Mack is a monster, but they couldn’t quite get it done.
There are those that will spin stats to make it seem like the Raiders got better with time, but the reality is there were too many holes. They gave up the 26th most yards per game (375.1), and the most yards per play in the NFL (6.1). They were most of the penalized defenses in the NFL, and outside of Mack, the Raiders only registered 14 sacks.
The Oakland Raiders would have to outscore their defense, and against the likes of Brady and the New England Patriots, that wouldn’t go well. Some have wondered if they would’ve even been able to outscore Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown. But, that was last year.
This off-season, the Raiders made some interesting moves. In the draft, they added a ton of new defensive pieces. Gareon Conley, Obi Melifonwu, Eddie Vanderdoes, and Marquel Lee are rookies that could make an immediate impact on the troubled defense. Will they be better when September rolls around? Hopefully. If not, it’s hard to see the Raiders pushing on. The hiring of John Pagano as an assistant defensive coach could make a huge difference.
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
For the haters, here’s a bone. The Oakland Raiders probably aren’t the favorites to win the Super Bowl this year. Happy? The New England Patriots have to have a deathgrip on that title, considering they’re the defending champions and they’ve only improved in the off-season. However… For the record? Being the preseason favorite rarely works out well.
The good news for the Oakland Raiders is that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Reggie McKenzie is building this team brilliantly, and with young pieces like Carr, Mack, and Amari Cooper, the future is bright. Will the Raiders win the Super Bowl this year? Probably not. But in the near future? It’s not the craziest idea anyone’s ever had.
The Last Word
So are the Oakland Raiders overrated? That really depends on your definition of the term. The Raiders are a legitimate contender in the AFC, but not necessarily the favorite. With a strong, young nucleus and a genius at general manager, things are looking good.