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Grant Cohn: Raiders go all in to win now (w/video)

  • Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub gestures during a news conference Friday, March 21, 2014, at the NFL football team's practice facility in Alameda, Calif. Schaub and the Raiders are both hoping to put the mistakes of 2013 in the past. The Raiders acquired Schaub from Houston for an undisclosed draft pick, giving the quarterback a second chance after he lost his starting job with the Texans last season. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Here's the thing.

Schaub may have the football equivalent of post-traumatic stress disorder. In four-consecutive games last season, he threw an interception that got returned for a touchdown. An NFL first. If you type into Google, "How many pick sixes," Google assumes you're asking about Schaub. "How many pick sixes has Schaub thrown," pops up on your screen.

The Pick-Six King.

If he can overcome that stigma and stop throwing touchdowns to the other team, the Raiders have a puncher's chance this season.

McKenzie signed three new starting offensive linemen – Donald Penn, Kevin Boothe and Austin Howard – three new starting defensive linemen – Justin Tuck, Antonio Smith and LaMarr Woodley – and two new starting cornerbacks – Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, former 49ers. Those three position groups should be strengths for the Raiders next season.

McKenzie signed a running back, too. Maurice Jones-Drew, who is two years younger than Frank Gore, and has 509 fewer carries. In 2011, Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing yards despite playing for the Jaguars, a team that finished 5-11.

McKenzie also signed a wide receiver, James Jones, who led the NFL in touchdown catches two seasons ago.

Here's the thing.

The Raiders have the most difficult schedule in the NFL next season. They play the 49ers, Seahawks, Cardinals and Patriots, for starters. The Raiders also play in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, the AFC West. All three of the Raiders' division opponents – the Broncos, Chiefs and Chargers – made the playoffs last season. And even though the Raiders have improved this offseason, so have the Broncos, Chiefs and Chargers.

The Raiders could win seven games if Schaub and Jones-Drew bounce back and the rest of the old guys stay healthy. Are seven wins enough for the Raiders to climb out of the AFC West basement?


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