Oakland won only two games last year and earned the first overall pick. The Raiders won’t even get much help this season from that first pick, quarterback JaMarcus Russell, because he just agreed to a contract this week.
Offensively, the Raiders do appear to be improved. Quarterback Josh McCown looked competent against Detroit with 313 yards, but hurt his right throwing hand. Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said McCown will be held out of Wednesday’s practice as a precaution but could practice Thursday. Daunte Culpepper would start if McCown can’t.
There are a few dangerous players on Oakland’s offense. Ronald Curry had 10 catches for 133 yards last week and running back LaMont Jordan had 159 total yards.
“Their offense is much better,” Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.
Defensively, the Raiders didn’t allow many yards last year. They also weren’t in many close games, which kept the opponent’s statistics down. For example, at Denver last year, the Broncos took a 13-0 lead in the first half and sat on the lead. The Broncos had 35 passing yards in the final three quarters. Last week the Raiders were in a shootout against Detroit, and the Lions gained 392 yards.
“I think Detroit has some really good players on offense but it wasn’t about them, it was about us not executing and miscommunication and coverage issues,” Kiffin said. “We hope we have those corrected.”