An interesting thought, how would this year’s Raiders do against the ’83 Raiders all things considered?

Historical comparisons provide intellectual entertainment, but they might also provide one with a crystal ball as to the upcoming 2017-18 NFL season. The Golden State Warriors and their incredible run, which continues with a perfect 16-0 playoff record, have many comparing them to the greatest teams in NBA history. Not all are impressed though.

The Golden State Warriors and their incredible run, which continues with a perfect 16-0 playoff record, have many comparing them to the greatest teams in NBA history. Not all are impressed as Dr. J recently touted that the ’83 Philadelphia 76ers would beat the “Dubs”; Magic Johnson said the same about the 1980’s Los Angeles Lakers.

The 1983 Super Bowl Champions, which were none other than the Los Angeles Raiders, are considered by many to be the best Raiders team ever. Led by head coach Tom Flores,  quarterback Jim Plunkett and a powerful running game led by Super Bowl MVP Marcus Allen, the 1983 Raiders rolled through the divisional playoffs and routed the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII 38 to 9.

So how do the 2017 Raiders stack up against this storied team from the 80’s? Better than you might imagine. Keep in mind that today’s players are bigger, faster, and stronger than the players from 34 years ago and they also tend to have a higher football IQ. With that in mind, there is still plenty we can learn by comparing the champs and this year’s team.
Overall, the two teams stack up pretty well. The 1983 squad was ranked 3rd in the league in overall offense, a ranking that many see as very achievable for this year’s team led by 4th-year quarterback Derek Carr.

Defense

The ’83 team’s defense was not as dominant as the offense as it was ranked 13th in the league. And like last year’s Raider’s defense, the ’83 defense did give up some big plays throughout the season. On the other hand, they had some playmakers and “ball hawks” that made them a threat to create turnovers every time they stepped onto the field.

Their defense. which was led by NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long (13 sacks and two fumble recoveries), was a solid unit and seemed to be able to get stops when they really counted. Sound familiars? Yes, our defense last year was much worse than the ’83 team, but our new draft picks, especially Gareon Conley and Marquel Lee should have a positive, instant impact on the team. Add a healthy Mario Edwards Jr. and Karl Joseph entering his second year knowing the system, and the 2017 team defense should be in the position to improve dramatically.

The one area on the defensive side of the ball that the ’83 team shows a distinct advantage is in that of linebackers. The 1983 linebackers were led by Ted Hendricks and Matt Millen. These guys put the fear of God in running backs and receivers alike with their aggressive play and willingness to sacrifice their bodies for the win. If the 2017 Raiders want to have any chance of getting to the Super Bowl, they must upgrade their linebacker corps. Both general manager Reggie McKenzie and Head Coach Jack Del Rio have acknowledged this and are ready to sign someone should they become available. For now, they’ll work with what they have and try to get the existing players to just play better.

Offense

On the offensive side of the ball and in some ways, I like our current team better than the ’83 team. Yes, Plunkett was a solid quarterback and led the team to the promised land, but he wasn’t Derek Carr. Plunkett was a competent passer with an overall “QB Rating” of  82.7 compared to Carr’s insane 96.7. Barring injury, of course, there’s no reason to think Carr can’t or won’t improve this year.

The ’83 team, just like the current team, had potent weapons that could catch the ball. Tight end Todd Christensen was a beast who racked up over 1,200 receiving yards and Cliff Branch was one of the speediest and most sure-handed receivers in the league. With the addition of Jared Cook, the current receiving squad gets the nod. The Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree duo may be the best tandem in the league and Cook has the potential to be a 1,000-yard receiver like Christensen.

And even though the ’83 team had Marcus Allen, the addition of “Beast Mode,” coupled with the speedster DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard plus a solid fullback in Jamize Olawale, the current team has a better running game. This rings true, especially considering our offensive line, which may be the best in football!

On special teams, the ’83 team had a solid kicker in Chris Bahr who made 21 of 27 FG’s and only missed two extra points in 53 attempts. Janikowski’s record last year was solid with an 82.9% of FGs made and also only missed two extra points, but he was kicking from much further out. The ’83 team had an NFL Hall of Fame punter in Ray Guy but as good as he was, his average punt in ’83 was a little over 42 yards.  The Raider’s current punter, Marquette King’s average last year was over 48 yards. Again, the difference is that players at that position have improved significantly over the last 30 years. Taking that into consideration, we have a darn good special team unit that at the very least, is comparable to the Super Bowl Champs.

It’s difficult to compare the coaches as Tom Flores, the 1983 coach, won two Super Bowls and many think he should have been in Canton years ago. Jack Del Rio’s record is not nearly as illustrious, but with the players and coaches he has assembled, who knows? This year’s team is stacked and should give Raider’s fans a whole lot to love for years to come!

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