Bye Week Blues: Coop Gone and More

Listen, it’s been a couple of weeks since I have written here. How can you blame me? What should I say after our season’s first win came in OT of a toilet bowl versus the Browns? Or after that embarrassment to the Chargers in a defacto home game? Or that ass whooping in a London game that got yanked off TV?

My mom told me if I don’t have anything nice to say then I shouldn’t say anything.

This week was supposed to be different. A bye week means we didn’t lose. It means that adjustments are coming and hopefully a surge towards relevancy. Unfortunately, we got some bye week blues today.

Gruden Strikes again

Man, oh man, another week and another franchise player moved unexpectedly. It was only a few years ago that Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack were seen as exemplary, elite and franchise players. I remember the last time I was in the Coliseum. Hearing those, “COOOOOOOPPPPPP!!” chants was an experience. Now, both are gone from the roster.

Cooper’s trade isn’t the same as Mack. With Mack, the Raiders gave up on a contract situation and generational talent way too early. With Cooper, they realized he was wasting away on their roster and cashed in asset before they couldn’t get equal value.

This past season was the first time I’ve noticeably seen Cooper frustrated. He argued with Carr a few times and other times they looked out of a sink. You could see Coop’s body language wasn’t the most engaged even if he never said anything publicly.

Statistically, he’s had a fall from grace the past two seasons. Last year he had under 1,000 yards for the first time in his career and this year he only had 280 receiving yards on 32 targets in six games. Of course, you can’t blame that all on him. You’ve gotta look at how the play calling has changed as well as how QB and O-line played have declined in that same timeline. You also gotta watch how he is open on every play and how he can take it to the case on every damn play.

Stop Saying, Cooper, ain’t worth a first rounder

For real, it is getting corny. The Raiders did not pull a fast one as Cooper is worth a first-round pick. His two Pro Bowl seasons in 2015-16 alone prove that. Not to mention, his blocking, route running, mental processing and competitive toughness are second to few at his position. I don’t care if he doesn’t holdout every year, isn’t six-foot-five, actually catches a TD, doesn’t get hurt often or take pictures with Drake.

Personally, I would’ve asked for a first round pick and another player who can help now. Then again, I’m a stan who understands what Cooper brought to the field as a playmaker and leader. I’m also one who sides with stars and proven-commodities over draft picks because the draft is really a shot in the dark. I know how hard it is to find star players and I know what kind of hope they bring fans. The point is, teams hope they draft Amari Cooper each year and the Cowboys did what they could to make sure they got Amari Cooper.

I don’t even care about the drops or drop off in statistics because Cooper has proven he can play through that. He’s also been exactly what he was build. Sure, he isn’t gonna surprise you with his size or even his speed and jumping. However, he’s gonna bring it every single play. That’s the type of player you build around especially if you’re a locker room like the Cowboys which has way too much off-field and on-field drama. Cooper will shut up, play ball and he might teach that locker room something.

Moreover, he’s probably gonna be better this next season and a half than any rookie receiver who still has to adjust to the game. Hopefully, Dallas can get their line and QB situation figured out so Cooper can thrive and remind everyone that he is an elite receiver still. Dude is only 24 too so he is still getting better.

Fire Sale

Honestly, I’m happy Cooper is gone. He deserves better than Oakland. In fact, I’m hoping everyone with value gets traded. Derek Carr, Kelechi Osemele, Gabe Jackson, Rodney Hudson, KJ, BI, Gareon Conley and anyone else with value should be shopped. As much as I hate saying Goodbye, I’d rather see them get a chance somewhere else than sacrifice their bodies or waste away for a garbage team. The Raiders already command this draft with five picks combined in the first round of this year and next year’s drafts. They mine as well sell whatever they can for more picks and embrace the tank. I don’t see many bright spots on this roster anyways.

A team was formerly known as the Oakland Raiders

All that hard work for nothing. It seems like the Raiders were so close in 2016. Finally, Reggie McKenzie’s process was bearing fruit. All those waiting on draft picks, cutting dead money and not making trades was finally looking good. Remember, Carr, Cooper, Murray and Mack all in the 2015 Pro Bowl? That seems so far from now.

Honestly, the real loser in all this is Oakland. They’re the ones who have to watch this team the next half season and possibly next year. We were all told Gruden wanted to bring a Lombardi to the team on the timeline.

Now, it seems like that timeline is at least double. There are more voids on the roster than bright spots. We’re looking forward to drafting picks over Sundays. Our team continues to move on from previous draft picks. OK, stagnant veterans are being played over developmental players with even a little potential. All things we’ve experienced before.

Of course, that’s the issue. Raiders fans in these past two decades are experts on rebuilds. We know tanking and projects for sure. We’ve learned to accept them and ride anyways. However, we were told and are still being told this team wants to be competitive. We were baited and switched. Betrayed by our own. Gruden was the last great folk hero in our team’s historic legacy and he is letting us down. Our team seemed close and now it seems so far.

Gruden is insulting our intelligence and trying to run misdirection with our minds by making us think he isn’t tanking. He is giving more sound bites in press conferences than meaningful halftime adjustments. Gruden is cashing in what talent we had for assets that will complement his future ego. He is playing his rookies and giving up on young players who were established and developing.

The point is, Gruden clearly has some sort of plan and image. Unfortunately, it doesn’t align with what Raider Nation sees or feels. What would Al Davis think about his team abandoning franchise corner stones? What would he think about Jon Gruden having infinity gauntlet power in Oakland?

Maybe Al was right to trade away his egotistical boy-wonder of a coach in 2002? IT was hard to believe since he was suffering from his own stubbornness and game passing him bye. Ironically, Gruden’s second tenure is starting to feel more and more AL. Giving up on players too young the same way his owner gave up on him prematurely.

Then again, what does it mean to be a Raider nowadays anyways? Al has been gone almost a decade. The team has a handful of winning seasons this millennium. They’re abandoning their home, for the second and last time. It seems the Oakland Raiders are not only becoming physically extinct but maybe the aura and mystique are going away too. Maybe Gruden has that on the trading block too. Who knows anymore?

Either way, good luck at getting excited for watching Carr and the offensive line look like shells of their 2016 versions. Enjoy watching an overmatched defense battle for one half. Good luck looking for big plays from Jordie Nelson and hoping Martavis Bryant knows where to lineup. It’s gonna be a long final stretch for the city of Oakland. I hope fans show up just to boo. Not the players and dudes giving up their body but the front office that continues to let us down in the most tragic ways.

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