3. Is this the year the Raiders get over the hump and return to the playoffs? Why or why not?
CS: This is a tough one. Being that it only takes 8 or 9 wins to take the AFC West and the Raiders were involved in some close contests that could have gone either way I feel confident in saying this team can get over the hump and make the playoffs. But a lot of that depends on Darren McFadden staying healthy and Carson Palmer playing consistently. I realize that’s like saying “I can win the lotto if you give me the winning numbers” but it’s true. Run DMC was on his way to an MVP type season before he went down…again…but he could have easily helped turned the tide in some of those close calls. Palmer…well…the jury is out still.
4. With the benefit of a little bit of hindsight, was acquiring Carson Palmer right for the Raiders?
CS: I think it was the right move to make. Can’t say I like the price paid but Jason Campbell was in a contract year so it would have been a tough call extending him after coming off of an injury shortened season. And Kyle Boller…do I need to say more than that? Palmer isn’t in the elite conversation but to pick up a guy like that midseason is about as good as you can do when you lose your starter. I still like the move cause it gave the Raiders a legit starter that puts in the work and is a leader. Just hate his contract and the loss of draft picks. But if you want to make an omelette then you’ve got to give up a few future picks…or something like that.
5. What are your expectations for the Raiders in 2012?
CS: Trying to predict this team is tough. Dennis Allen is a first year head coach installing a completely new defense. Greg Knapp is putting in a version of the West Coast offense which might or might not suit Palmer. There are just too many new variables in the equation to really get a feel for this team. I’m expecting to group of hungry players eager to prove something. McKenzie’s gone about building this roster by trimming the fat while bringing in players with a chip on their shoulders. It is a learning/adjusting year for sure. There will be growing pains along the way but overall I’m expecting to see a team compete every week no matter the opponent.