Raiders News: Antonio Pierce, Maxx Crosby, and more.

“Best Case Scenario?” Let’s Get Real, Raiders Fans

NFL media legend Rich Eisen is a glass-half-full kind of guy; those of us familiar with him know that. Recently, during his “Best Case Scenario” segment, he filled Raider Nation with an abundance of optimism. Still, maybe Las Vegas Raiders fans should get real about Eisen’s words.

In case you missed it, check out the gist of it down below.

Eisen presents a world in which defensive end Maxx Crosby wins his first DPOY award, Antonio Pierce becomes a Coach of the Year candidate, and the Raiders win the AFC West. But he didn’t stop there. The “40-yard dash don” also included a first-round victory over the hated Kansas City Chiefs, dashing their hopes for a three-peat.

This all sounds fantastic, but exactly how realistic is this type of outcome for the Silver and Black?

Could “Mad Maxx” win Defensive Player of the Year?

Let’s start with the heartbeat of the franchise, shall we? The Condor is coming off a 2023 season that saw him increase his sack total from 12.5 to 14.5, earn 2nd-team All-Pro honors, and finish in fourth place in DPOY voting. One could argue that with better team results and a few more sacks, “The Condor” would have secured those honors. When compared to the players who topped him in voting, the case for yet another ascension is clear.

Was Maxx Crosby robbed in 2023?

In 2023, the top four vote-getters for Defensive Player of the Year were pass rushers. However, outside of the record, no candidate had an overwhelming advantage over Crosby in any statistical category. In fact, only TJ Watt finished with a sizable difference in any major figure, that being sacks (19). And while the Raiders defensive line should be its largest strength this upcoming season, Crosby was far easier to key in on than his counterparts mentioned above. With Christian Wilkins’ acquisition and Malcolm Koonce’s rise, this should no longer be an issue.

Last but not least, the Eastern Michigan alum led all his contemporaries in one important figure. Crosby played 95% of the Raiders snaps in 2023, while no other top DPOY candidate eclipsed 83%.

The Rush Podcast could very well have a nice trophy as their set’s centerpiece in February.

Can Antonio Pierce pillage his way to Coach of the Year?

Pierce’s road to Coach of the Year consideration is in no way farfetched. Winning said honors, however, could be a very tall task. When looking back at some of the more recent winners, there are a few key factors that have led to a coach snagging the award. Let’s break them into a few different categories.

The Odds Beaters: Coaches lead teams that have overcome significant injuries to achieve double-digit wins. While their win totals didn’t make an astronomical leap over the year prior, they made the playoffs regardless of QB question marks. Examples of this are Kevin Stefanski (2023) and Mike Vrabel (2021).

The Rebuilders: There are coaches who have successfully led a team to a minimum of five victories. It is rare to overlook a coach who takes a team from a top-10 draft pick to the playoffs. Examples of this are Brian Daboll (2022) and the aforementioned Kevin Stefanski (2020). Yes, Kevin Stefanski has two Coach of the Year trophies.

The Juggernauts: These coaches lead teams that finish with records that are either spotless or damn close to them. The most recent example would be John Harbaugh, when the Ravens had a 14-2 record (2019).

Out of these listed tiers, Pierce has the best odds of landing in the odds-beater group. If AP is to secure major honors in 2024, the Raiders will need to overcome concerns at the most scrutinized position in professional sports. But if Las Vegas can win 11 games and earn a playoff berth, anything is possible.

And speaking of win totals…

Can the Raiders win the West?

The Raiders will start the season tied for eighth in schedule strength. We all understand how the inevitable fluctuations in team performances from year to year can drastically alter the strength of the schedule. With that said, Las Vegas will learn a lot about itself after an interesting opening half of the year. Their schedule only has one arguable “layup” prior to their bye week (sorry, Carolina). The other weeks are loaded with division foes, title contenders, and quality playoff rosters.

Unfortunately, winning the West is a bit too far out of reach if we’re being unbiased. There are a lot of questions surrounding this offense, and it’s difficult to predict how well Pierce’s first approach will hold up if the Raiders start the season slowly.

I guess my glass is half empty, huh?

*Top Photo: Getty Images

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