We are just one week away from the 2021-2022 NFL season beginning with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Night Football. So it’s time to ramp up our coverage of the Raiders, taking a look at the expectations for this team in Jon Gruden’s fourth year.
After an 8-8 season in 2020, what are the expectations for Gruden and the Raiders this season? About how many wins should this team finish with, assuming they stay relatively healthy?
In a recent piece by ESPN’s 32 beat writers, they listed each team’s ceiling and floor heading into the 2021 season. Paul Gutierrez, the beat reporter for the Raiders, gave the team a win-window between 6-10 wins. That feels about right considering their win total is set at 7.5 to 8 wins on most sportsbooks.
The biggest variable for this team and how many wins they earn, according to Gutierrez? The offensive line. Here is a snippet of his thoughts on the unit going into the year:
“QB Derek Carr — who has improved in each of his seasons in Jon Gruden’s system — has weapons galore, but none of it matters if the O-line can’t protect him. Stalwart center Rodney Hudson, road grader right guard Gabe Jackson and maddening right tackle Trent Brown were among the departures. New pieces include center Andre James, right guard Denzelle Good and rookie right tackle Alex Leatherwood, and if that group is solid, so too should be the Raiders’ record. Otherwise, avert ye eyes, Raider Nation.”
The Raiders feel good about their young offensive linemen, especially James and Leatherwood. But until they actually get onto the field against a quality opponent, we have no idea how they will look.
They took a big leap of faith this offseason when they moved on from three veteran starters, but offensive line coach Tom Cable is among the better interior coaches in the league. How this unit performs and develops over the season will be a tell-tale sign of how the team does this year.
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