At this time last year things were very different in Northern California. Jason Campbell was the starting quarterback. Hue Jackson was the head coach. And Al Davis was still alive, God rest his soul. But there is one thing that will continue throughout the Oakland Raiders organization.
A commitment to excellence.
Obviously the word “excellent” hasn’t been mentioned in the same sentence as the Raiders for years. It happens when you’ve only made the playoffs once in the last ten seasons. Say what you want about Al Davis and his reign as the Raiders owner, but he was willing to do whatever it took to win football games. That sentiment now continues on to Mark Davis, Al’s son, who proved that earlier this year by hiring former Packers director of player personnel Reggie McKenzie.
After being with the Packers organization for 17 years, which included two Super Bowl titles, Reggie knows what it takes to create a winning atmosphere. But the task won’t be easy as the Raiders for the last few seasons have been to quote NFL Network’s Jamie Dukes “an asylum run by the prisoners”. With that being said it makes the hiring of Dennis Allen all that much better. Hiring Allen may have not earned McKenzie brownie points with the casual NFL fan, but anyone close to the game knows this is what the Raiders needed. While the Raiders were an offensive juggernaut in 2011, the defense couldn’t keep up. The Black and Silver ranked 29th in points allowed and yards allowed. With an offense like the Raiders have, they don’t necessarily have to be the Ravens or Niners mimic on defense. But I’m sure Carson Palmer would love to go a Sunday this season without having to be caught in a shootout.
Despite the fact that they were a decent defense away from the playoffs last season, this team desperately needed a change. Towards the end of the year players were tuning out Hue Jackson. And once you lose your team, it’s hard to get them back. On paper, this is the same Raiders team from last year with a few changes. Three things must happen in order for the Raiders to reach the 12-team tournament.
1) Darren McFadden must stay healthy.
2) The excessive penalties have to cease.
3) The defense must hold it’s own. Especially in tight games.
The Raiders are these three goals from being another step in attaining their once proud prestige in the league. But until then Dennis Allen, Reggie McKenzie, and the Oakland Raiders will continue their efforts in their “Commitment to Excellence”.