Battle of the Bay: Getting to Know the Raiders

In week two of the preseason the 49ers will host their Bay Area rivalry’s Oakland Raiders in the Battle of the Bay.  The 49ers have a lot to improve on since last weeks lost but you already knew that.  To find out about more about the Raiders and see what the Raiders Nation expectations are this season Niner Noise did a Q&A with Chris Shellcroft over at Just Blog Baby.  Below are Chris’ answers and you can head over to Just Blog Baby to see my Q&A.

Q: Tom Cable did a lot for the Raiders the last two seasons, do you think Hue Jackson can continue the turnaround Cable started?

What Hue Jackson did for the offense last season was nothing short of a miracle. Before Jackson the Raiders’ offense was being outscored by the A’s. He arrives and all of a sudden they’re a top 10 unit. Jackson has a Rex Ryan type swagger without all the arrogance. I feel he can continue the turnaround Cable started if his team is healthy and he doesn’t get too overwhelmed as a first year head coach. By keeping his play calling duties Jackson is making his life even more hectic but the offense is his baby.

Q: Jason Campbell is entering his second season with the Raiders, what are the expectations for him this season?

Campbell’s got all the tools and is a great fit for this offense. His strength is play-action which is a great weapon when you’ve got a run first offense. His issue is consistency. Campbell came on late in the season last year so the expectation is he’ll have his best year as a pro. Now that he’s been given the starting job with no worries of being benched on a whim, JC should be able to focus on the task at hand instead of losing sleep over losing snaps.

Q: Is the Raider Nation open to sharing a stadium with the 49er Faithful?

I’ve got to be honest here. I don’t see Raider Nation being happy about sharing a stadium with the 49ers. While we love to call 9er fans snobs the truth is Raider fans are equally snobbish when it comes to our team. We feel as if the Raiders are one of the great franchises in the history of sports and are worthy of our own stadium. That being said, the O.co (or whatever it’s actually called) Coliseum is a dump. The time has come for a new stadium. The real issue above all else is where it will be built. The East Bay is the natural home for the Raiders so leaving that area would be a big hurdle to overcome.

Q: The Raiders defensive line looked strong against the Cardinals. Which defensive linemen are you the most excited about?

Oakland’s front four are among the best in the league. Lamar Houston has been getting a lot of praise and is expected to make even bigger strides in his second season. But the guy that could emerge as a real star is Matt Shaughnessy. He entered the league as a pass rusher but has really improved against the run. Last week against the Cardinals Shaughnessy was only in for the first series but was somehow near the ball on every snap. He’s a natural athlete with a serious motor and is on the verge of getting a trip to Hawaii in the near future.

Q: What position is the biggest concern for the Raiders during training camp?

There are really two areas that are of the most concern. 1 is the secondary and 1a is the offensive line. You can’t lose Nnamdi Asomugha and expect you’re secondary to improve. The offensive line is a work in progress with every position except one (Jared Veldheer at Left Tackle) up for grabs. The Raiders are banking on their young corners to get up to speed in a hurry while relying on a mix of rookies and vets to piece the O-line together.

Q: What is the number one reason the Raiders could end up AFC West champs?

Were it not for those horrible losses to the Cardinals, Dolphins and…cough….cough…the 49ers last year the Raiders would have won the AFC West with ease. This year the division once again has the same up for grabs feel to it. The running game will be the number one reason why this team wins the AFC West. There really aren’t any defenses in the division that are great at stopping the run and as we all know, he who runs the ball with success controls the clock. By keeping the ball out of the hands of guys like Philip Rivers and Jamaal Charles the Raiders give themselves a shot a victory every week.

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