Although the Oakland Raiders operated a run first offense in 2010 with Darren McFadden rushing for over 1100 yards and coming in third in the NFL with 5.2 yards per carry, it is imperative that the Raiders help Jason Campbell in 2011. The Raiders have to get Campbell a reliable target at tight end. Zach Miller was targeted 14 more times than any other receiver on the team in 2010. The 92 balls he thrown his way made him the 10th most targeted tight end in the NFL. He’s now a Seahawk.
Adding Kevin Boss is a no brainer. Although Boss had 25 less catches than Miller last year, he had just 150 yards less than Miller. He averaged nearly 4 yards more per catch than Miller. He may not be a better receiver, but he is a more proven blocker and is the best available tight end left in free agency.
By adding a veteran wide out, the Raiders passing game could improve enough to make the loss in tight end production and afterthought. Boss is just 27 and has a lot of miles left on his body. He could be a long-term solution for the Raiders.
Louis Murphy was the Raiders most targeted wide out in 2010 with 78 targets. Those 78 targets made Murphy the 53rd most targeted wide out in the NFL. That must change for the Raiders to allow Darren McFadden to have another breakout year. The Raiders must keep defenses honest by giving Jason Campbell viable targets in 2011.
Will Darrius Heyward-Bey improve or will Jacoby Ford have another breakout year? Can Chaz Schilens actually stay healthy? If the Raiders can answer yes to two of these questions they may have enough to give Campbell what he needs to succeed. Only Ford’s breakout is expected and production from rookie Denarius Moore would just be a bonus.
Heyward-Bey will likely see reps as one of the top two receivers in 2011. He has played more snaps than his performance has warranted. He now must show that he deserves to be out there with the first unit. Heyward-Bey was 72nd in the league with 65 targets last year, and with those 65 targets he only amassed 366 yards and one touchdown. To put that in perspective, out of all of the wide receivers with between 60 and 70 targets in 2010, Heyward-Bey amassed better stats than only Chansi Stuckey who had revolving door of QB’s in lowly Cleveland’s 29th ranked passing attack. Although Heyward-Bey is showing improvement, he needs to make a major leap to help Campbell in 2011.
Jacoby Ford was thrown to 11 less times than Heyward-Bey and had one more receiving touchdown and 104 more yards than Heyward-Bey in 2010. All of those numbers should improve in 2011 for Ford. Assuming he enters 2011 healthy, he is poised for a breakout year.
As for Schilens, at this point he looks great in shorts and shoulder pads, but he has yet to realize his potential. He simply must stay healthy. Chaz did not crack the top 100 in targeted wide receivers in the NFL due to his injuries. He only appeared in five games and averaged one catch per game. There is a lot of potential with Chaz, but the Raiders cannot count on the San Diego State product to produce for 16 games until he actually does it.
There are a few wide receivers still available in free agency that could help Jason Campbell and the Raiders offense in 2011. The best fit for Oakland would be six-year veteran Malcom Floyd. The ex-Charger averaged nearly 20 yards per catch and scored six touchdowns in 2010.
Another option is Derrick Mason, the former Raven. Although he is older, he has a year or two left in his tank and would produce. He has had multiple one-thousand yard seasons and his 61 receptions in 2010 would have led Raiders. He amassed over 800 yards and 7 TD’s in 2010 and is stable veteran presence.
If all else fails Braylon Edwards is still available.
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