Oakland Raiders on Their Way to Returning to Glory Days

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (at least that's what it feels like), the Oakland Raiders lived by several tremendous mantras.

Pride and poise. Commitment to excellence. And, of course, the gold standard, courtesy of the late, great Al Davis: Just win, baby.

To say that the last 12 seasons haven't gone according to those maxims would be an understatement: The Raiders haven't made the playoffs since losing Super Bowl XXXVII following the 2002 season, and they also don't have one winning campaign in that span. 

The Raiders have won a grand total of 11 games over the past three seasons. To put things in perspective, five teams won at least 12 games last year alone.

But better times are on the horizon, as glimmers of light are finally peeking into the Black Hole. The Raiders roster might not be ready for prime time just yet, but if the team continues along the path it's currently on, the halcyon days of John Madden and Ken Stabler could return in short order.

Let's first examine the Raiders roster, largely constructed by current general manager Reggie McKenzie. McKenzie recovered nicely from a disastrous first two years in charge to author an extremely successful 2014 draft, which netted two franchise building blocks: quarterback Derek Carr and pass-rusher Khalil Mack.

Any conversation about the Raiders' future must begin with Carr and Mack, who were both impressive as neophytes last season. Despite possessing virtually no legitimate weaponry at the skill positions (there are schools in the SEC that would have produced more fantasy football starters than the Raiders), Carr tossed 21 touchdown passes against only 12 interceptions. And while Mack only finished with four sacks, he was also the top-rated 4-3 outside linebacker by Pro Football Focus—not for rookies, but for the entire NFL.

McKenzie made a number of positive under-the-radar signings in fr...

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