I can hear it now. Deep in the Black Hole, the sound resonates through my head gear, vibrates my chest and stings my eardrums. It lingers like a good vintage wine for hours after. The call of Victory!
Back in February, I thought time stood still. Seconds turned into minutes. Minutes to hours and hours to days. It was like a bad case of separation anxiety. The team went their way and the fan base was left with so many questions and no answers.
Well, the waiting is over. The 2013 season is upon us and a new desire and hunger for the pinnacle of achievement hangs in the balance. Its time for answers. But those answers come at some expense that we knew was inevitable. The Autumn Wind blew across the surface of our bow. Change was upon us.
It all started with the hiring of Reggie McKenzie. It was obvious from the start in his introduction with Mark Davis that it was going to be his direction. A new Era of Raiders football. With the subsequent hiring of Dennis Allen, a defensive minded coach and the first since John Madden, the Raiders began to remove themselves from the Al Davis era and tonight into the Reggie McKenzie era of 21st Century NFL Football.
I know that its hard to place expectations on the team this early, but its the typical routine we go through as fans. Win the Super Bowl. My fears are that we may have taken 2 steps back to make the leap after this year. All of that can change with a great showing tonight against the Cowboys. Which Raiders team will show up? The New or the Old?
Keys to tell........................
- Small steps. We were pretty good last year and with a full off season under Carson Palmer's belt, I am hooping that the players can get going together on the common path.I am looking for a touch down on our opening possession. No 3 and out.
- Maturation of our Wide Receivers. I hope that they can continue on the path they have been going, Yards after the catch. With the west coast offense now being implemented, I can almost assure you that there will be more 5-10 yard routes and more inclusion of the tight end to move the ball and focus more on the first down rather then the home run ball.
- Stability at Running back. We need to stay healthy and build a good running game. We are going back to the Zone Blocking Scheme and establishment of our dominance will start today on the offensive line and backfield.
- 65%-35% mix Run/Pass. Although Carson Palmer is a proven vet, I think he should only be called on when it comes to putting the final dagger through out opponents heart. We have to be balanced at first to get our opponent off guard and then run them into the ground.
- D-Line dominance. We need to establish ourselves as a run stuffing defensive team. We have some new vets in the backfield with returning rookies, but it all starts with the D-Line protecting us from the runs. In addition to this, they have to make quick pursuits to the QB. Nothing new here.
- Line backer pursuit. Has to be there. These guys need to be all over the ball and filling their gaps. The hardest part to this is to be patient and trust the guys in front of you to do their jobs. Ray Lewis is not who he is because he alone is great. He has a trust for the down 4 that allows him to be patient and flow with the play and attack the ball.
- Minimize penalties. Our biggest offender, Stanford Routt, is gone. Thank the Lord. He stunk it up last year with 17 penalties alone. This group needs to play disciplined football and get off the field on 3rd down. No exceptions.
It should be interesting to usher in this new era of thinking. I am excited to see the growth of Dennis Allen from his days in Denver into something we have needed for a long time. A leader of the team. Only time will tell and tonight our journey begins.
Its good to be back Nation. Good to be back!