The Raiders’ second season under coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler begins with far less expectations than the first but maybe more pressure.
Improving on their 6-11 record is the No. 1 priority. That said, the team must prove it is moving in the right direction even if it doesn’t show up in the win column.
Of their 53-man roster, only 14 players remain from the club McDaniels and Ziegler inherited in January 2022. The dramatic face-lift includes a complete overhaul in the quarterback and tight end rooms and wide receiver, safety and defensive line groups that look drastically different.
The Raiders look deeper, faster and more versatile on both sides of the ball. The challenge now is turning that potential into more wins.
Here’s a breakdown of the offense, defense and special teams:
Only four offensive players remain from the previous regime, with the most notable change at quarterback, where Jimmy Garoppolo takes over for Derek Carr.
Garoppolo doesn’t have the sheer statistical numbers of Carr, but the Raiders are counting on the improvement he brings in the red zone, his understanding of McDaniels’ offense and his leadership to help elevate the offense’s efficiency.
Garoppolo has compiled a better career passer rating than Carr at 99.7 to 91.8, a higher completion percentage at 67.8 to 64.6 and more yards per passing attempt at 8.3 to 7.1.
Going back to 2014, Garoppolo ranks eighth among 38 quarterbacks with 200 or more red-zone passing attempts with a passer rating of 100.4. Carr’s 89.7 rating ranks 30th.
Most important, Garoppolo is 40-17 in games he has started, and led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2019 and two conference championship games.
The key is staying healthy. Garoppolo has played a full season just twice — one ended in the Super Bowl and the other in the NFC championship game.
Garoppolo has plenty of weapons at his disposal, with wide receiver Davante Adams and running back Josh Jacobs among the NFL’s best players at their position. Wide receivers Hunter Renfrow and Jakobi Meyers are proven players, particularly in the slot.
At tight end, rookie Michael Mayer is expected to make an impact, though the presence of veteran Austin Hooper provides development leeway for Mayer.
The Raiders brought back four of their five starting offensive linemen, the only change being Greg Van Roten winning the right guard job over Alex Bars.
The line was ranked 10th last season by Pro Football Focus and could be better in 2023.
If that’s the case, the Raiders have a chance to be a top-10 scoring offense after finishing 12th last season.
Recent history has shown that no matter how many points the Raiders score, it rarely matters if the defense isn’t doing its part.
McDaniels learned that lesson the hard way. The defense had the third-fewest sacks in the league with 17, forced a league-low 13 turnovers and allowed the seventh-most points.
To address that issue, the Raiders took Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson with the seventh pick in the draft, Alabama defensive tackle Byron Young in the third round, Maryland cornerback Jakorian Bennett in the fourth and Arizona State defensive tackle Nesta Jade Silvera in the seventh.
They also signed veteran cornerbacks Marcus Peters and David Long, linebacker Robert Spillane and safety Marcus Epps.
The Raiders hope the new additions — combined with holdovers Maxx Crosby, Chandler Jones, Jerry Tillery, Nate Hobbs, Divine Deablo and Tre’von Moehrig — create a defense that can get to the quarterback more consistently and create more turnovers.
In kicker Daniel Carlson and punter AJ Cole, the Raiders have two of the league’s best.