Week One is upon us and Antonio Brown is behind us. The entire, short-lived Antonio Brown situation was nightmare for the Silver and Black. However, the biggest loser in the entire situation is Oakland.
Without Brown, the Raiders are that much less talented and that much harder to support in their future ex-home city. Oakland deserved a team better than last year and Brown was supposed to be apart of that. Brown was supposed to be a center piece of the Raiders promise to bring Oakland a winning season and new culture. Delivering on these promise from the Raiders gets infinitely harder without a great player like Antonio Brown. Oakland deserved better than what AB and the Raiders did to them this offseason.
Instead, Oakland got baited and switched. They bought their Brown Jerseys and drafted him as their fantasy player in hopes he’d be a focal point for the Raiders in the next few years. Then he left them hanging and used for clout. He backed the Raiders into a corner and forced them to go from the offseason’s biggest winner to the biggest loser overnight.
Whatever comes next with the actually season here might be worse than the Brown filled offseason circus. If that’s the case, then Oakland will continue to be the biggest loser of the entire Antonio Brown drama.
Oakland is the place that packs out every Raiders Game. It is the community that supports the team through 17 years of dysfunction and heart break. Oakland is still paying for the previous renovation that brought the Raiders back too. They do all this despite the team leaving for bigger and greener pastures in Las Vegas.
Regardless, the East Bay deserved a great player like Antonio Brown this year. They deserved a winner in the final season hosting their beloved football team. They deserved to have a reason for excitement every Sunday like AB.
They got more dysfunction instead. Now, they’ll get an offense built around Derek Carr and a team that is only as good as their infamous coach. Spoiler, we saw how bad that was last season.
Either way, many thought AB and Hard Knocks would be a great litmus test for the Raiders. Except this trial by fire didn’t go so well and it isn’t even Week Two. The Raiders had to put out AB’s sparks of negativity before it could spread like California Fire Season.
Cutting AB is great for protecting the Raiders locker room but horrible for Oakland. Instead of talking about the final season in Oakland, the media is talking about Antonio Brown and the Raiders front office. They’re talking about the picks given up for the receiver and the headlines AB made in his few months as a Raiders. Media are searching for AB’s replacement and overlooking what the team’s absence will mean to the city.
No one is talking about how the Bay and Raiders culture intertwine. No one is talking about the franchise drawing inspiration for the very name, colors and swagger drawing from the place it called home for the better part of sixty years. No one is talking about the Raiders breaking up with their Mecca and what that means to the community thanks to this entire Antonio Brown distraction.
Raiders Nation and Gruden, remember when Amari Cooper wasn’t alpha enough? The Raiders shipped him out for a pick that would be Jonathan Abram and traded a mid round pick for AB to assume the role as shifty, speedy No. 1 receiver. Was that low price gamble on AB, an alpha, worth the squeeze? Hell no, give me my late round picks back especially if Oakland is gonna suffer through another bad season.
Nonetheless, this entire Antonio Brown saga is the latest instance of a divide between the Raiders front office. Still, Gruden and Mayock got their shit together and aligned by cutting their No. 1 receiver. Both men looked noticeably irritated simply addressing AB’s latest altercation and suspension even though it is only Week One and Year One.
In the end, it’s the last season Oakland. We should be talking about the Raiders very logo, colors and cultures tied to Oakland but we’re talking about AB. Instead of reminiscing about the decades of great renegade football we’re talking about AB. We’re not talking about the community ties or social justice history of the Raiders either. We’re just talking about AB and that is disrespectful to Oakland which is the Mecca of Raiders football.
Ultimately, there are no winners when your coach and GM beef with each other or when their best player is cut. That’s even more true when you consider AB went to the Raiders’ hated-rival, the Pats. The L becomes even bigger when you read Brown did whatever he could to leave the Raiders and Oakland. Even if you deny that Brown conspired this all along, you can’t argue that Oakland losing a player of Brown’s caliber hurts the city’s entire prospect of having one more good season.
Unfortunately, Vegas is coming fast and it is time for the Raiders to deliver on all those new culture promises. It’s time to deliver Oakland a decent team not all these headlines and trending hashtags from Antonio Brown dividing the Raiders front office or distracting the locker room. It’s time to move on from AB, for Oakland’s sake. Knock on wood if you’re with me.
WEEK ONE KEYS VERSUS THE BRONCOS
In other news, football is back. The Raiders are the last team to kickoff their season with the late night double header versus the Broncos. They got to battle their long-time division rivals in what will be Oakland’s last installment of this legendary AFC West rivalry.
What do they need to do to beat the transitioning Broncos? Denver is a team somewhere between rebuilding and the Super Bowl they won less than five years ago. They’ve got their third head coach in four seasons and went the old-school, established vet. coach with lots of experience to make sure the team revamped their defense and didn’t lose any games from small mistakes.
The Raiders must win the game upfront. Oakland will be without their usual starters at guard due to suspension and injury. That means the Broncos should use a lot of twists and blitz to really confuse those guys. The Raiders offensive line will need their tackles to show improvement from last year since Kolton Miller is in Year Two and Trent Brown is making bank. They will need the o-line to consistently compete with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb so that Derek Carr stays clean and poised for most of the game. Good pass pro should also help get the run game going for Josh Jacobs and the Raiders other backs.
Also on offense, the Raiders will need receivers to step up across the board. AB gone puts Tyrell Williams in the uncomfortable spot of proving he’s worth all that skrilla. He must prove he’s a legit No.1 receiver and not only the deep threat he was type casted as with the Chargers. The same goes for the rest of the Raiders WR depth chart which is filled with young and inexperienced gadget-type receivers. Shoutout to Darren Waller who is also going to need a big game as the x-factor at tight end. Carr loves his tight ends and he’ll need Waller to live up to Hard Knocks hype quick. Outside of the o-line, Carr will need his receivers to step up versus the Broncos.
On defense, the game plan isn’t too different. The Raiders will show their inexperience at end with rookie Clellin Ferrell making his first start across from second year end Arden Key. Garrett Bolles and Ju’Wan James might be the Raiders greatest draw at tackle all season. Really, this entire Broncos front line is filled with question marks. Oakland needs a coming out party from the entire defensive line if they want to win this game. That includes versus the running game. Rushing the passer is great until Denver starts hitting on those open run lanes in the zone and scoring with their dynamic backfield. That means the key to winning this game starts with the defensive line.
Further, the Raiders secondary is supposed to be much improved. They added role players and starters through both the draft and free agency. We need some return on investment via turnovers from this group. That’s especially necessary if Joe Flacco or Emmanuel Sanders can turn the clock back. Don’t sleep on Noah Fant or Courtland Sutton who bring the size and athleticism to give the Raiders nightmare for a long time, despite their young age. The secondary is gonna need to limit big plays as well as make their own takeaways.
Antonio Brown shit aside, it’s time to Just Win Baby! What better place to do that than Monday Night Football in Oakland on opening night!