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Skinny
09-14-2007, 05:10 PM
By Brian Howell
Sept. 14, 2007

ENGLEWOOD — It wasn’t long ago that the Oakland Raiders were among the NFL’s elite.

Just four years ago, they came into the 2003 season as the reigning AFC champs.

Since going 11-5 en route to an appearance in Super Bowl XXXVII, however, the Raiders have been rather dreadful.

Following a 48-21 loss to Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl, Oakland has gone 15-49 — and has had four different head coaches.

The Raiders are now considered one of the league’s doormats. But not by everybody.

“I tend to the look at the team last year that was third in the National Football League (in defense),” Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said of the 2006 Raiders.

Oakland (0-1) did have a good defense in 2006, but its offense was anemic, scoring just 12 touchdowns all season.

Despite watching the Raiders lose to Detroit, 36-21, last Sunday, Shanahan said he believes the Broncos (1-0) are in for a battle when the teams meet Sunday afternoon at Invesco Field at Mile High.

“This is a much different Raider team,” Shanahan said. “They’re playing much better.”

If nothing else, the Raiders are different in terms of who is running the team.

Lane Kiffin is in his first year as the Oakland head coach after taking over for Art Shell, who was fired after one year. At 32 (31 when he was hired), Kiffin is the league’s youngest coach.

So far, he’s been pleased with his squad.

“Things have gone well for the most part,” Kiffin said. “We just have to learn how to finish.”

Finishing was something the Raiders didn’t do Sunday. They trailed 17-0 at one point and battled back to take a 21-20 lead. The Raiders then gave up 16 points in the final 4 minutes, 15 seconds.

“You’ve got to build confidence in your team so that they understand that you never know what play is going to be the play that determines the game,” Kiffin said.

Kiffin said his job from outset was to change the culture of the team by “trying to find the right collection of players that understand (playing together).”

In changing the culture, the Raiders traded wide receiver Randy Moss, and dumped quarterback Aaron Brooks.

They’ve added several new pieces, including quarterbacks Josh McCown and Daunte Culpepper, both of whom figure to be keeping the seat warm for No. 1 overall draft choice JaMarcus Russell.

With new personnel and a new culture, veteran defensive tackle Warren Sapp has already seen a difference, although he said the jury is still out on Kiffin.

“He just started, boss,” said Sapp, in his 13th NFL season, and fourth with the Raiders. “You have to give him a chance to get 16 games under his belt, but I like everything that he’s given us so far.”

Defensively, the Raiders still believe they’re one of the best in the league, despite giving up 36 points Sunday.

“It was one game, and we did not play very well at all,” Kiffin said. “But, that’s one of 16 games, so we’re hoping to bounce back this week.

“Detroit has some really good players on offense, but it wasn’t about them. It was about us and us not executing and miscommunication and coverage issues. We’re hoping we have those corrected.”

The Broncos are expecting the Raiders to have some wrinkles ironed out, and don’t plan on the Raiders rolling over.

“They are still a great defense,” Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler said. “They have a talented secondary and have some linebackers that can really play. They provide some challenges.”

Although the Raiders were 2-14 a year ago, they battled the Broncos both times the teams met. Denver won, 13-3, in Denver, and 17-13 in Oakland.

“They’ve got a better strategy,” Broncos defensive lineman Elvis Dumervil said. “It looked real impressive (against Detroit). We have to come with high energy. They’ll bring their best game, and we’ll bring our best game.”

The record may not show it, but the Raiders plan on bringing their best and competing every week.

“We’re not there by any means yet,” Kiffin said. “We still have a ways to go, but we think that we’ve made some strides.”

http://www.timescall.com/sports_story.asp?id=3485

BroncoManiac_69
09-14-2007, 05:19 PM
Watching the Raiders in Preseason, I saw improvements. In all honesty, they have no where to go but up as bad as they have been. I suppose they could ride the low lying platteau a little longer.

And a lot will be determined on how Culpepper plays. If they continue to struggle offensively, the cry for Russell could get as loud as the cry for Quinn in Cleveland.

Skinny
09-14-2007, 06:12 PM
They showed improvements last weekend. And they'll be a tougher match-up than Buffalo was.

Especially defensively.

I hope the offense has worked on their "red-zone" offense ALOT this week. Their going to have to finish drives to win this game Sunday.

If Oak. is able to establish the run, it could be a short day for the (Denver) offense and a long day for the defense if they don't.

SmithOverTO
09-14-2007, 08:25 PM
With the Raiders "emerging" and with the Broncos and Chargers already great, the AFC West will become absolutely fascinating the next few years!

Broncos Mtnman
09-14-2007, 08:34 PM
I think the Raiders have shown tremendous improvement over their performance of the past few seasons.

I think the new doormats of the AFC West is the Chefs. Herm is totally destroying that team.

:D

broncosinindy
09-14-2007, 10:21 PM
Oakland on paper should be good. i dont understand it. well i think part of the problem is that they dont have consistancy enough in there coaching staff. and i think that has severly hobbled them. i think if they can keep a coach around a while they could be good.

TXBRONC
09-14-2007, 10:25 PM
Oakland on paper should be good. i dont understand it. well i think part of the problem is that they dont have consistancy enough in there coaching staff. and i think that has severly hobbled them. i think if they can keep a coach around a while they could be good.


Their offensive line is still troublesome.

broncosinindy
09-14-2007, 10:29 PM
Their offensive line is still troublesome.

yeah that could be good for us. Kamblima (sp) edwards had two scks..

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