The Oakland Raiders are going into the 2017 NFL season with some of the heaviest expectations the franchise has had since 2002, the last time the team went to the Super Bowl.
With that said, here at RaiderRamble.com I was able to speak with Pro Football Focus’s Austin Gayle and he shared his thoughts on the upcoming season along with some insight into what Raider Nation can expect from figures such as head coach Jack Del Rio and franchise quarterback Derek Carr.
Thanks for taking the time Austin, first off, is this the year that Amari Cooper finally breaks the “late season slump” and breaks thru? Can he be expected to break out and become, let’s say, a “Top 5” NFL wide receiver?
“If there was a year for Amari Cooper to transition to elite status, it’s 2017. He dramatically improved his hands from his 18-drop rookie campaign and learned to keep his feet in bounds down the stretch. Also, though I may be in the minority on this opinion, I believe Michael Crabtree could regress next season, essentially pushing Cooper into the driver’s seat for a BIG year. “
So what are your expectations for coach Del Rio? How can he improve on the great season he had last year?
“Similarly to what Raiders legendary coach John Madden said earlier this week, Jack Del Rio is exactly what the Raiders needed to come to their sidelines. A local Bay Area guy, Del Rio brings heart, effort and experience to Oakland. Also, the Raiders should continue to thrive as the roster buys into his values and aggressive mentality. Consistency under the headset is such a plus, and no better man to wear it than Del Rio for the Silver and Black.To improve next season, Del Rio won’t have to change much. If he continues to approach the game with aggressiveness and confidence, the wins should follow suit.”
“If they can stay healthy, I predict the Raiders to win the AFC West with an 11-5 record. Though it’s a slight regression from their 12-4 mark last season, the toughness of their schedule and the newly drawn target on their backs could push Oakland into an extra tally in the loss column.The Raiders’ Super Bowl chances solely lie on Derek Carr’s shoulders. Carr will need to solidify himself among the elite in a bitterly cold affair against Tom Brady in the AFC Championship to take his Raiders to Minnesota, a feat not many quarterbacks have under their belt. However, if Carr can indeed live up to the hype and outplay his middle-of-the-pack defense, the Lombardi trophy could return to Oakland for possibly it’s last time.”