The uniforms are the same familiar silver and black the Oakland Raiders have worn for decades. The roster contains the fastest collection of players in the NFL. And the offense contains a quarterback who wants to throw the ball deep. Those are just some of the many familiar standards that still exist as the Raiders head to their first training camp since death of owner and architect Al Davis. But make no mistake, there’s a different vibe around the Raiders as they begin preparations for their first season in a half-century without Davis at the helm.
For the first time since 1963, there will be someone else running the football side of the Raiders organization. Reggie McKenzie, who was hired as general manager by Davis’ son Mark, in January, has made progress on a complete overhaul since being hired.
McKenzie hired Dennis Allen as head coach, as probably the team’s first defensive minded coach since John Madden in the 1970’s. The 39 year old is the 18th head coach of the Raiders. Allen, a former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator, has changed the Raiders defense, and has gotten respect from veterans such as Richard Seymour and Micheal Huff.
On the offensive side of the ball, Carson Palmer will head to his first Raiders training camp. Acquired last October from Cincinnati in a bold deal by former coach Hue Jackson for a 2012 first-round pick and 2013 second-rounder, Palmer showed signs of being the elite quarterback he was a few years ago in Cincinnati but was far too inconsistent with 16 interceptions in 10 games. However, will a full offseason of learning the system, Palmer feels ready for the upcoming season.
After decades of dominance under Al Davis, including three super bowls, the Raiders have not been very good of late. Last year was the nine straight year that the silver and black missed the playoffs, going 8-8. But the Raiders still set a standard of excellence earlier during Davis’ run that the new regime hopes to match.