CHICAGO -- Raiders coach Tom Cable directed much of his energy and attention during the offseason toward rebuilding his defense. Managing general partner Al Davis no doubt expects immediate returns on his sizable investment.
Through two games, it's difficult to imagine Davis and Cable being anything less than overjoyed by the way the defense has played.
Throw in an impressive showing by the offense against the Chicago Bears in a 32-17 victory Saturday night, and it can't be long before people start thinking good thoughts about the Raiders after seven years of heavy-duty losing.
The Raiders outplayed the Bears, for the most part, in a game that seemed to validate Cable's repeated claims that the good times are a coming, and soon.
New quarterback Jason Campbell rebounded from a so-so Raiders debut 10 days ago by completing his first five passes for 89 yards and capping the drive with a 1-yard touchdown.
The Raiders surpassed the 68 yards offense they managed against the Dallas Cowboys on four drives 10 days ago by their seventh play against the Bears.
"This game I was a little more comfortable," Campbell said. "Last game, I had a couple of jitters before the game started because it was my first time with a new team. This game, it was just like playing football again."
Campbell's lone glaring flaw came on a seam pass for tight end Zach Miller at the Bears 5-yard line late in the first quarter. Campbell was hit as he let
The new-look defense strutted its stuff from the outset, as well, with defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley sacking Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on back-to-back plays for a combined 20 yards in losses.
Wimbley's sack -- he finished with four -- forced a Bears punt, which the Raiders parlayed into a field goal-scoring drive and 10-0 lead.
"He had an exceptional night, really," Cable said of Wimbley. "It started right from the get-go and (lasted) right until he came out of the game. He was a factor on third down every series."
Wimbley arrived via trade with the Cleveland Browns, and he is part of the infusion of talent on a defense that finished 26th in terms of average yards allowed per game.
"I got one early and I was energized," Wimbley said. "I was able to use some successful moves one-on-one and I came free. I have never had four sacks in a half before."
The Raiders also drafted middle linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive end Lamarr Houston, signed veteran defensive tackle John Henderson and drafted three defensive backs who have shined in camp.
In addition, the Raiders paid defensive tackle Richard Seymour $12.398 million to stick around for a second season.
The return of eight starters from last season gives the Raiders a defense they believe is ready to flourish this season.
"Yeah, we got the train pointed in the right direction," Kelly said, "but we got to realize it's preseason. So, take it for what it's worth."
Naturally, there's going to be some things to iron out between here and the second coming of the 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers defense.
That became apparent when Bears running back Matt Forte burst through the line of scrimmage untouched, put a nifty move on free safety Michael Huff in the open field and raced 89 yards untouched for a touchdown.
Cable said one of the linebackers was out of position, which afforded Forte an unimpeded path into the secondary.
"That's not good," Cable said.
All in all, there is plenty of reason for optimism for the Raiders as they steam toward the regular-season opener, eager to distance themselves from the misery that comes with seven straight seasons of at least 11 losses.
Offensive line shows positive signs. Page 6
49ers at Raiders, 6 p.m., Chs. 36, 44