Oakland Raiders 2005 season preview

Updated: September 2, 2005, 11:29 AM ET
ESPN.com

Oakland Raiders

THE BOTTOM LINE


Here's how the Randy Moss factor will help the Raiders. They averaged 20 points a game last season. Jerry Porter and Ronald Curry combined for 15 touchdowns. Moss should add seven points a week to the offense, making it one of the most potent in the AFC. LaMont Jordan is the real deal in the backfield, and if he stays healthy, he should have a 1,400-yard season.

It would be an upset if quarterback Kerry Collins doesn't throw between 25 and 30 touchdown passes. He had 21 last year and that's without Moss. The question facing Collins is how many high-risk throws will he make and how will that affect his interception totals. Collins had 20 interceptions last year. While scoring is great, the Raiders might want to monitor the quickness of their drives. The offense was only on the field for 26:47 minutes a game last year.

The defense was on the field 133 more plays, and this isn't a very good defense. Coordinator Rob Ryan is making the smart play by going to a 4-3 to take advantage of the play of Warren Sapp and Ted Washington, but the Raiders have almost too many defensive linemen. Their starting outside linebacking corps features two converted defensive ends Tyler Brayton and Grant Irons. Losing Sammy Williams for the season hurt because he was a pure linebacker. The secondary is hoping Nnamdi Asomugha can replace Phillip Buchanon, who tended to gamble for interceptions and ended up getting beat for touchdowns. The Raiders gave up 27 points a game on defense. They need more offense just to stay in games, but Moss, Collins and everyone should provide plenty of offense and excitement.



ESPN's TAKE

The Big Question?
Can their offense be consistent? This team has a lot of playmakers, but they need offensive balance. They have to get LaMont Jordan his touches and not think that just because they have Randy Moss that everything will be OK. They must keep defenses honest or Randy will see a lot of the same coverages he saw in Minnesota.

FANTASY TAKE

Sleeper: QB Kerry Collins
Collins has never had a potent pair of receivers like Randy Moss and Jerry Porter before, and the addition of Moss alone figures to add a few TD passes to his usual totals. With a stronger running game supporting him as well, and the most amazing playmaking WR in the NFL at his disposal, Collins could be headed for the best statistical season of his career.
Bust: WR Ronald Curry
With Moss coming to town, and Porter staying in the starting lineup, plus the presence of Jordan at RB, someone's numbers will suffer at least a little bit. As a third receiver on the depth chart, Curry becomes a big fantasy risk. He might make the occasional big play, but not enough to help your fantasy team. Also, keep in mind Curry is recovering from offseason Achilles surgery.



From ESPN the MAGAZINE
The Big Number
99.4 The Raiders' 2004 D made every QB look like Peyton Manning, allowing a league-high 99.4 QB rating. If the defensive line's sack total (15) doesn't increase, that rating (and the Raiders' loss total) will.

STRENGTH --> OFFENSE
Norv Turner has one of the NFL's best receivers (who may undermine the coach's authority), an explosive young back (who's never had 100 carries in a season during his four-year career) and a rifle-armed QB (whose relationship with consistency is hot and cold). But if Moss (left), Jordan and Collins are at their best (or even just not at their worst), Turner's offense will be as difficult to defend against as any in the league.

WEAKNESS --> BEING SCORED ON
Plus side? Coordinator Rob Ryan will use more 4-3 sets, a much better system for Sapp and newly signed pass rush specialist Derrick Burgess (left). Downside? Unless the brittle Burgess can avoid the DL -- he missed 31 games in '02 and '03 with foot problems and part of last season with a bruised sternum -- the Raiders won't improve on their 25 sacks in 2004, 31st in the NFL.

PROSPECTS
The worst moments for Oakland's D last year? Easy: the times when MLB Danny Clark tried to rally the team and no one paid attention. "We had too many individuals," Clark says.

Well, a few of 'em are no longer Raiders, including LB Napoleon Harris and CBs Phillip Buchanon and Ray Buchanan. In are two hungry rookie corners, Fabian Washington and Stanford Routt, and Burgess, who had three sacks during Philly's playoff run last season.

This D doesn't have to be great, it just has to keep opposing scores low enough (under 24) to give the O a chance. Clark, a six-year vet whose 129 tackles led the Raiders in 2004, gave the D a speech at mini-camp that ended with him saying, "If you don't want to be here, leave!" This time, he says, only two guys weren't listening. Progress.

Team Preview Centers

Key Stretch: Weeks 1-4
Sept. 8: At New England
Sept. 18: KANSAS CITY
Sept. 25: At Philadelphia
Oct. 2: DALLAS

Comings & Goings
Key Acquisitions:
DE Derrick Burgess; LB Jay Foreman; RB LaMont Jordan; WR Randy Moss; DT Kenny Smith.

Key Departures:
DB Ray Buchanan; CB Phillip Buchanon; LB Napoleon Harris; TE Doug Jolley; OG Frank Middleton; DT John Parrella; RB Tyrone Wheatley; TE Roland Williams.

Offensive Starters (as of 8/31)
RB: LaMont Jordan
FB: Chris Hetherington
QB: Kerry Collins
WR: Jerry Porter
RT: Robert Gallery
RG: Brad Badger
C: Jake Grove
LG: Langston Walker
LT: Barry Sims
TE: Courtney Anderson
WR: Randy Moss
Defensive Starters (as of 8/31)
LDE: Bobby Hamilton
NT: Ted Washington
DT: Warren Sapp
RDE: Tommy Kelly
LOLB: Tyler Brayton
MLB: Danny Clark
ROLB: Grant Irons
RCB: Charles Woodson
FS: Stuart Schweigert
SS: Derrick Gibson
LCB: Nnamdi Asomugha


• Complete roster