Raiders News: Rich Gannon ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ Team Could Double Win Total
Rich Gannon, Raiders
Sep 3, 2000; Oakland, CA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Oakland Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon (12) in action against the San Diego Chargers at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Peter Brouillet-USA TODAY NETWORK

The Las Vegas Raiders are a difficult team to predict heading into the 2023 season. The pieces are there for the team to be much better than a season ago, but also reasons for concern. In the eyes of former MVP Rich Gannon, the optimism just outweighs the concern.

When it comes to the offense, the Raiders have one of the best collections of skill position talent in the entire NFL, but the question is whether they have the right guy at quarterback.

After a recent sit-down conversation with Jimmy Garoppolo, Gannon is even more of a believer and thinks that Garoppolo is in for a special season with the Raiders, as long as he can stay healthy, via 33rd Team:

“I am cautiously optimistic about my Raiders in 2023 and here’s why […] I just think there’s a certain comfort level with Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s got a history with Josh McDaniels from their time together in New England when he was a young player. I think the six years in San Francisco has served him well with Kyle Shanahan. He is a different player than when he left New England. He’s more experienced. I think he’s a more savvy veteran who understands protections and concepts better […] I think Jimmy Garoppolo, if he can stay healthy, is gonna have a special season for the Raiders on offense”

Gannon would go on to note the talent around Garoppolo with the likes of DaVante Adams, Jakobi Meyers and rookie tight end Michael Mayer. He also mentioned the important factor of whether or not Josh Jacobs will be returning, though signs are pointing positively about that.

It isn’t just offense however, the bigger concern for the Raiders is on defense, and Gannon outlined his key for the Raiders improving on that side of the ball as well and what it could mean for their outlook overall in 2023:

“We know what they have in Maxx Crosby. How much better can they be rushing the passer? Chandler Jones has to play better than he did a year ago and Tyree Wilson who got back on the practice field this week from that foot injury, that surgery, he looks like he’s got a chance to be a pretty special player. If they can get some juice and productivity off the opposite edge form Maxx Crosby I think the Raiders can get a whole lot better defensively. And a better Raiders defense may mean twice as many wins as we saw a season ago.”

Being great up front on defense simply makes everything else easier on the defense. It frees up the linebackers to chase down the opposition, and an excellent pass rush means the secondary has to cover for less time and can create more opportunities for them to create turnovers.

The concerns are real for the Raiders, but the pieces are there, and a double in win total would likely mean the playoff berth this team is shooting for.