Post Football Therapy: Oakland Raiders

The Rrrrrrrrraiders.

That's always fun to say. Which is good, because for several seasons now, it's been the only fun fans have had with the silver and black. The Raiders have unfortunately become synonymous with the word "loss," and this is a league that watched a certain unnamed team go winless not too long ago.

Despite all that, Raiders fans and the Black Hole have stayed faithful to their team and avoided growing too bitter. At least you have that over Niners fans, am I right?

Suffering through several seasons now, Raiders fans have shown heart. And now, there are signs of progress. Not only do you guys have the fourth pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, you already have your franchise quarterback.

Yes, 3-13 isn't a great year. But, many of those losses were within one score (including games against the Patriots and Seahawks). Look at it this way, out of the final six weeks, you guys went out with an even 3-3, just ignore that game against the Rams. That was bad. Seriously, just forget it, we're staying positive here.

QB of the future

OK, Derek Carr didn't exactly light up the scoreboard every week, but he had excellent games and a very solid rookie season overall. He may have only thrown over 300 yards once, but threw three touchdowns against the Niners and four more against the Chargers. Those are two solid defenses to score that well against in a single game.

Carr will continue to grow as your franchise signal-caller. And he is just that. The Raiders' schedule has a habit of being unkind to rookie quarterbacks. Just look at the 2014 schedule. You guys didn't play against a single team that had a defense I'd consider weak. But Carr toughed it out and came away with a solid first year. He's going to be a great player for the silver and black, especially when you're in a division that has to gun it out against the Broncos and Chargers so often.

Change in the backfield

That tandem of Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden didn't work out so well. On paper, that had the Raiders set to have a decent ground attack. Nope.

Enter Latavius Murray. Solid speed with a big frame, Murray launched off the bench after running for 43 yards in San Diego with just four carries. He was awarded with another four carries the following game against Kansas City, which he took for two scores and 112 yards.

He fell back down to Earth a bit after that game, but proved to be a reliable runner. Add to the mix your Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece and you have a solid backfield. Reece himself has proven to be a reliable pass catcher and could be a valuable check-down option for Carr. Not to mention he's a good blocker.

With McFadden likely gone to free agency, that leaves MJD. Granted, it's not like he's getting any younger, but could provide a good second option if he shows signs of his former power. And Jack Del Rio watched him play first hand in Jacksonville. Speaking of which...

New coaching staff

Jack Del Rio is coming off a successful stint as the defensive mind behind the Broncos. He's been a head coach before with the Jaguars, so he's been through this song and dance before. He brings with him a knowledgeable staff that will help build off the roster's current key players and provide some grit on the defensive side, which is sorely needed.

See, I stayed relatively positive through this. If you're wondering why I didn't mention Khalil Mack more even though the guy is a beast, it's because mentioning him means mentioning a defense that ranked dead last in points allowed. See, staying positive. Mack is pretty beastly, though.

12-straight losing seasons hurts a lot. And, realistically, I'm not expecting a complete turn around in one season. But Del Rio is a smart coach, you have some good up-and-coming players and a great draft spot. If the Raiders are able to add a great deep threat receiver, cornerback or pass rusher in the offseason, then you're looking at a far more balanced team.

So hang in there, silver and black, hang in there.

Daniel Williams is a Digital Features Editor at NFL.com and is a firm believer in the Woody Harrelson curse. You can follow him on Twitter @_danielwilliams.

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