RaiderRamble.com recently got the opportunity to share a few words with the editor of the Oakland Raiders site for Last Word on Sports, Ryan Smith.
For the readers of RaiderRambe.com; Tell us a little about yourself?
There’s not much to say, honestly. I used to blog on social media about football because I felt like I understood the game better than most of my friends, and that blossomed into a journalism degree and an incredibly time-consuming sportswriting gig with Last Word on Sports. Of course, like all cool people, I’m a card-carrying member of Raider Nation, but it’s for a funny reason. My dad’s a die hard Kansas City Chiefs fan, and ever the Raider myself, I just had to root for their bitter rivals.
Also, we’ve got the coolest jerseys in the NFL. That’s why every team seems to have a black alternate these days. After I had learned the history of the greatest franchise in professional sports, I was hooked. The swagger and legacy of the Silver and Black are unparalleled, and as long as that Silver and Black blood can run through my veins and there’s a Raider Nation, I’ll be a member.
Speaking of the Silver and Black, what do you think of the defense and its current state? Did Reggie McKenzie do enough in the draft and free agency to get this unit to where it needs to be?
That’s the real question when it comes to Oakland, isn’t it? It’s easy to mention all of our offensive stars because there’s no shortage. Our offensive line is one of the best, we have the best young quarterback in football, and the sky’s the limit for Amari Cooper. Unfortunately, the hype begins and ends with Khalil Mack. As great as Mack is, the biggest part of his argument for Defensive Player of the Year was that he was so dominant without much help.
Frankly, I think our defense might surprise some people. When you write out the names and start to put the defense together, there aren’t as many holes as you might think. There’s plenty of potential on the squad; it just needs to transform into production.
Imagine how good the defense could be if we got optimal production out of Karl Joseph, Bruce Irvin, Mario Edwards Jr., and our corners? John Pagano’s input could mean the difference between another “one and done” season and a Super Bowl berth.
As for the draft and free agency, that’s a complicated question. Assuming everyone plays and plays up to their potential, Eddie Vanderdoes, Gareon Conley, and Obi Melifonwu could make immediate impacts. But that’s not the real problem, is it? The real issue is our inside linebacking corps. If the season started right now, Cory James and Ben Heeney would be fighting for the number one spot, and that’s not promising. Maybe Marquel Lee will surprise us, but at this point, I’m hoping we make a move for Zachary Orr or we re-sign Perry Riley Jr.
Funny you mentioned the “offensive stars”, so what should the realistic expectation be for Marshawn Lynch all things considered?
I remember when the Marshawn rumors started, I was quick to dismiss them. I’ll admit, it seemed like a fun idea, but I didn’t think it was possible. I’m going through the same thing with Megatron now, though I’m trying to stick with my gut. Lightning can’t strike twice, or can it?
I’m excited to see what Beast Mode can bring to the Raiders. At certain points last year, I felt like Latavius Murray tried to shy away from contact instead of bowling over guys. If Beast is healthy, behind that offensive line? It could be awesome. “Beast Mode” running behind that offensive line could mean better first down runs, meaning shorter second downs, and fewer third downs.
Realistically though, I have my doubts about Lynch breaking 1,000 yards. Right now we’ve got something like six tailbacks on the roster, and it’s hard to imagine we get rid of DeAndre Washington, Jalen Richard, or Elijah Hood. And they all deserve touches honestly; it’s a good idea to limit “Beast’s” carries anyway so we can get as much out of him as possible. I’ll go out on a limb and say 800 yards, 11 touchdowns?
I’ll get you out of here with one last question, whats your prediction for the team’s record this season?
I’m predicting 13 wins for the Raiders. There are a few games that could go either way for us, but there is some “gimme” wins as well. The New York Jets are the worst team in the NFL, and our hated rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs have taken a step back this off-season. When I look at the New England Patriots, the New York Giants, and a bout against the Dallas Cowboys, I see the games that will determine just how serious this Raiders team is. If we can beat the Patriots in Mexico City, it’s hard to imagine us losing to anyone, am I right?
I have no doubt that Raider Nation will agree with that statement, those games will be the true litmus test for this team. Thanks again Ryan for your time and we look forward to talking to you again.