WATCH: Steve Smith explains why the Raiders will compete in 2019
NFL Network’s Steve Smith had a surprising take when asked about contending teams for this upcoming year. The former Panthers receiver began to talk about the Oakland Raiders, and cited an improved Derek Carr as a reason why.
— Oakland Raiders (@Raiders) August 8, 2019
This is a shocking opinion to say the least. The Raiders finished an abysmal 4-12 last year, and were never even thinking about the playoffs. They fielded one of the league’s worst defenses, and a below average offense. From a team like that to playoff contention is a long way off, especially looking at the offseason moves Oakland made.
While Jon Gruden did make some genius moves like the Antonio Brown trade, there was the usual head-scratchers as well. The Raiders brought in the universally-hated Vontaze Burfict, one of the dirtiest players in football. The front office did little to improve on the defense, with the biggest move being adding Clelin Ferrell. Oakland as a team tallied only 13 sacks last year, and they’re counting on the Clemson product to increase that number. Ferrell is a solid player, but it’s always hard to tell what type of production a rookie can bring to the table.
Although the defense didn’t get much better, Smith has a good point about the offense improving. To fix one of the league’s worst offensive lines, Oakland paid big money to tackle Trent Brown. Brown had one great year with the New England Patriots, but it remains to be seen if he can repeat that success.
The best move was easily the Antonio Brown trade. If Carr improves, and the defense takes a leap forward, maybe the Raiders can compete in a stacked AFC.