The Raiders had to look on the preseason as a success. With good reason, the team felt they were a step behind through the whole process. Last to the table for everything, they still managed to put together a functioning organization, bring in competent coaches and players, and were ready to field a team in the AFL. Worries that they wouldn’t be competitive were unfounded. They might not be the best team in the league, but they weren’t going to be patsies, either. So where did things stand looking forward to the regular season?
Consensus among observers was that the team lacked size on the lines and in the offensive backfield and speed at the receiver spots. Potential strengths were a promising, but unproven Tom Flores at quarterback and an lively defensive backfield with a nose for the ball. As for coaching, Eddie Erdelatz was well-regarded as a college coach, but whether he could get the job done in the pro game was still unknown. Even at the end of August he still hadn’t introduced the entire offensive scheme to his players, possibly the result of being a late-comer or perhaps he was still figuring out how teams operated at this level.
Of course, another explanation is that he still expected a good deal of player turnover and didn’t want cut players to take their knowledge to another team. Erdelatz and Chet Soda had said all along that they still expected to make personnel changes and were looking forward to the last cutdown where teams would have to get to 33 players for a couple of days before going back up to 35. The Raiders would have the first option on any available players during that period.
It was still all guesswork. No one really knows what a team is until they’ve had a few weeks of regular season play, a shakedown cruise, as it were. So it might be October before any real conclusions can be drawn.