It might take a little bit of time for us to get a real understanding of just how much the Oakland Raiders have improved after two consecutive successful drafts. General manager Reggie McKenzie’s rebuilding project isn’t one that employs quick fixes in order to create short-term success. It’s a drawn-out process that the team hopes will make it successful over the long term.
This isn’t stopping veteran members of the team from speaking up about their expectations heading into the 2015 campaign:
That’s fine and dandy, but it’s also unrealistic at this point. Coming off a 2014 campaign that saw the team win four games or less for the third consecutive season, expectations have to be grounded a bit, at least when it comes to the Raiders’ fan base. Oakland is playing in an AFC West division that boasts three playoff-caliber squads—all three of which have made the playoffs at least once in the past two years.
It’s also important to note that Oakland boasts the seventh most-difficult schedule in the NFL this season. In addition to taking on its three AFC West foes a total of six times, Oakland plays the AFC North and NFC North this season. That’s a total of seven games against clubs that earned a playoff spot a season ago.
Higher expectations are good under first-year head coach Jack Del Rio. It speaks to the change of culture within the Raiders’ locker room. It also speaks to the addition of talent throughout the roster over the past couple seasons. A year after adding three potential franchise cornerstones in Derek Carr (QB), Gabe Jackson (G) and Khalil Mack (LB) in the 2014 NFL draft, the Raiders got that potential No. 1 receiver in Amari Cooper this past draft.
Things seem to be trending in the right direction here, but the Raiders’ lack of talent in prior years makes the rebuilding process a rather extensive one. Based on this, six or seven wins in 2015 would be seen as a step in the right direction.
Just don’t tell that to the players.
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