6

What I believe

(Note: I’ll be out of town on vacation for the next week but will be checking e-mail regularly, hoping for readers to pick up the slack. Send prospective lead blog items to jmcdonald@angnewspapers.com)

By Jason Villeneuve (jjvill)

These are the true dog days of summer for the Raider Nation. Training camp doesn’t start for several weeks and those of us who bleed Silver & Black are left to debate the merits of signing Tank Johnson who can’t even suit up until November. What does a Raider fan have in these desperate days of nothingness?

We have each other’s opinions and thoughts. No facts. Just opinions formed in our own Raider obsessed minds of what will play out in 2007. The beauty of the Internet age is we can share those thoughts with countless other members of the Nation. Those thoughts are then shredded, praised, debunked, bashed, exalted or downright ridiculed as maybe the sorriest ideas of all time.

That is also part of the beauty, isn’t it? Well here are my beliefs on the Oakland Raiders in 2007. Let the criticism flow.

I believe that Lane Kiffin will continue what he started in the off-season. The team will be committed to excellence, work hard, play as one, and show a winning attitude that wasn’t there under the Shell regime.

I also believe it will be extremely hard for that change in organizational attitude to translate into wins, 8-8 would be an excellent start.

I believe the Raiders are better off sticking with what they have at DT and not taking on the problems or publicity of Tank Johnson, unless Al is looking for a good sidearm.

I believe Dominic Rhodes and LaMont Jordan will split time throughout the year in a two back system. With Rhodes eventually being 1A based on superior blocking and receiving skills, which means more yards rushing and receiving for Rhodes.

I believe Tom Walsh is designing a pretty mean omelet right about now.

I believe Ronald Curry will have a better year at wide receiver than Jerry Porter. Think back to 2005 before Curry got hurt against KC, he was a much more consistent player and was turning into Collins go to guy.

I believe Barry Sims will once again win the starting job at left tackle and will once again have a problem with the top speed guys off the edge, think Jason Taylor in Week 4 and Dwight Freeney in Week 15.

I believe Gallery should get a haircut and start fresh. The entire Samson thing just isn’t working.

I believe Derrick Burgess will once again rack up double-digit sacks and make the Pro Bowl. I also think Al better pay the man before he bolts. I believe Kirk Morrison is a complete stud at middle linebacker and will join Burgess in the Hawaii.

I believe Al Davis hasn’t lost anything mentally in regards to his football acumen, maybe the best mind in the game . . . ever.

I also believe absolute power corrupts absolutely and Al’s ego has trumped his football intelligence on many occasions.

I believe Josh McCown’s play this year will earn him a chance at a nice contract and possibly a starting job in 2008 . . . but not with the Raiders.

I believe in the greatness that could be JaMarcus Russell and his very bright future in Oakland.

I believe the Raiders will lose a fair share of close games this year because this young team might be much improved, but still has to learn how to win.

I believe it was a fumble.

I believe Travis Taylor will be the third receiver on the team and make more of an impact than Mike Williams.

I believe we should sign Donovin Darius, at a decent price, because a strong run support safety could make a huge difference against LT and LJ. Sorry Stu.

I believe the refs won’t screw the Raiders once this year. I also believe in Santa Claus, Bigfoot, and the honesty of politicians.

I believe the Raiders defense won’t be among the top three in rankings this year. However it won’t give up as many rushing yards and in reality will be better.

I believe if there was justice in this world Randy Moss would blow out his ACL in the first quarter of Week 1.

I believe the Raiders will go 7-9, JaMarcus will see the field for a few games latei n the year flashing some greatness, and a new era of Raider football will begin.

I believe that more than one person will rip me for this article.

I believe . . . ”I’m in!”

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer