Hello Victory Our Old Friend

Right before our season completely bottomed out, the Raiders ended their two-game skid by whooping the Broncos for their first division win. Coach Bisaccia became the first coach to win his debut since Hue Jackson.

Lessons From The Donkies

We got glimpses of the Ruggs and Carr combo we all dreamed about. Kenyan Drake and Josh Jacobs finally brought the 1-2 punch finally. Jacobs mixed physical running with Drake’s explosive play making.

Jacobs said the sideline had a much more professional feel minus Gruden yelling at all the players and coaches. It felt that way as the Raiders made noticeable adjustments. They never felt complacent or panicked which is how playoff teams play versus lesser division teams.

The Defense made big plays when needed. Solomon Thomas forced a crucial strip. Shout out to him for donating 8k per sack this year. Our defensive backs got back into the interception column too.

Well the Raiders sat in the driver seat by scoring on their first drive, Raiders PTSD made it feel like the game could turn at any moment. Las Vegas never really put Denver away even after the turnovers. 

Still, that is really nitpicking a road team playing a talented and banged up rival on the road. The Raiders found a way to win and that is all that matters baby. 

Deeper Meeting

Moreover, Fuck power rankings. Who cares if we fell in some made up rankings after staying in the West’s second spot? Our team showed the grit and confidence needed for a playoff push. Whether or not they get there will depend on many things including the offensive line. Rodney Hudson and Lincoln Kennedy ain’t walkin thru that door. 

At the very least, this team isn’t going to be packing it in even if they have all the reason to. Carr said he didn’t think the team could get any closer but that is exactly what happened after the Gruden of situation.

Gruden-Gate

Speaking of Gruden-gate, we heard from many Raiders and league stakeholders pushing for more emails from the WFT. Gruden is reportedly fumed that he got fired from an investigation he had nothing to do with. No shit. Mark Davis also said it was an intentional hit by the league. Probably.

The Raiders would still be controlled by some dated mediocre coach with misogynistic and racist thoughts if it weren’t for the emails. It’s also documented how the Raiders went from one of the most Black teams in the league before Gruden. The percentage instantly dropped when Gruden came to the field.  

Who cares though? The Raiders are off a great win and headed into another winnable match versus the Philadelphia Eagles. No pitty parties for coaches out the club.

Taking On Philly This Week

Some say this week’s matchup sets up a let down. The Eagles have a mobile quarterback along with an explosive tight end. Jalen Hurts is leading the team in both rushing and passing. Dallas Goedert is officially TE No. 1 with Zach Ertz shipped out. Myles Sanders can make plays. 

On defense, they have pass rushers blended with experience on all levels. Philadelphia top 10 in interceptions and passing yards allowed. However, they are in the bottom 10 for rushing yards allowed and passing touchdowns given up. That sets the Raiders up for perfect success since they want to run the ball to setup big pass plays downfield.

Keys to Beating the Eagles

Philly is ranked in the top-10 for yards per first down but they rank in the bottom over the last two games. The Eagles rely on creating manageable third downs for young quarterback Jalen Hurts. They are in the bottom ten for most passing yards in the NFL this year. If the Raiders can stop Myles Sanders from controlling the down and distance, they should be able to get after Hurts on passing downs. Hurts can also kill Vegas with his legs so the pass rushers must stay discipline on fakes and keep contain when getting up field. Getting Quinton Jefferson back should also help pressure Hurts and stop the run. Jefferson’s get-off is missed as he disrupts both the run and pass. It would also be great if the Raiders can force an interception again like last week.

Offensively, the Raiders must exert their will again. Vegas needs another fast start like last week. Forget the last time they looked lethargic at home versus the Bears as all the Gruden stuff loomed in the shadows. Let’s put that behind us by starting fast and getting all the weapons involved. This team is hard to beat when Ruggs is getting targets downfield and Bryan Edwards is making catches in the deeper intermediate route. Carr can find Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow anytime because of their chemistry. However, Ruggs and Edwards give them the big play threat that makes it hard to lock in on Carr’s favorite targets.

Bottom Line

Overall, it won’t matter what the offense wants to do if they can’t get blocking up front. The O-line played better versus the Broncos but they could only go up from where they played versus the Bears. Hopefully, this group can continue improving as they get more reps together. They’ll face real tests with Fletcher Cox and company in town. Philadelphia leaves much to be desired versus the run so this is a chance for the young offensive line to gain some confidence running the ball.

Vegas played with a chip on their shoulder for the first time in a bit. They looked mad and angry. However, they kept it balanced by rolling through the good and the bad. Our Raiders looked like they had been there before even when it seemed like they were going to let Denver back into the game. If the Raiders can maintain the physicality and the professional focus forward, there is no reason why they can not make the playoffs. That starts with handling business versus a beatable Philly team.

Otherwise, a loss won’t be the end of the world headed into a bye week. The Bye Week is the breathe of fresh air we all need. Yet, sitting at 5-2 in first place is much better than tied for second at 4-3. Hopefully, the game won’t be too crazy with Philly fans, although they travel well and Vegas is a transit town.

Either way, the Raiders got to find a way to put good to solid teams away if they really want to legitimize themselves as contenders. For now, I think we’ll all just take 2-0 in the post-Gruden era.

Talking About Everything But The Broncos

Everybody wants to talk about the Donkeys, the burros. It makes sense since Sundays in the late Summer and Fall are what many in Raider Nation look forward to. Mondays are much better after a victory.

It’s been two weeks since we last tasted that sweet smell of victory. Our Raiders lost two straight and now they will battle the Broncos for second in the AFC West. A win over Denver is exactly the distraction we need as Raiders fans. It’s why many of the team reacted to the resignation of their head coach with comments about moving forward, accountability and professionalism. The rest of the season will test all of that now that Jon Gruden is no longer steering the Raiders organization.

Make Gave and Took Away

This past Monday is one many of us will want to forget. Not because Khalil Mack registered 8 tackles against us while nursing injuries the day before. Five-deuce reminded us one more time he never wanted to leave Oakland by throwing up the iconic “O” after stopping a two-point conversation. It a sack vs the Raiders but a tribute to the Mecca of the Silver and Black. 

This moment was the eye before the Gruden storm right when everybody wanted to brush past the DeMaurice Smith comments and racial trope. Mack reminded the Raiders they sold him and Oakland out for an Oasis in the desert. Gruden traded Mack as soon as he got to town. Mack countered by giving Gruden his final loss as a head coach. As if a game with enough Bear fans to catch the attention from those in attendance wasn’t enough of a reminder.

Bigger Than All The Takes

“No one is bigger than the Raiders shield,” they all say. Yet, we all must look back with revisionist history when we look back at those great Gruden teams. You hear all the former players and coaches shocked and confused. Some supporting a friend and mentor while others reached for their “I told you so,” strap.

We understand why so many vets and young players walked in and out the building. J.G. was a control freak that pushed out the Raiders Black G.M. Reggie McKenzie. McKenzie was the mastermind behind the Raiders last playoff run.

Gruden promised us all winning. When it didn’t happen, he should’ve stepped away like he said he would. All those misses in free agency and the draft was enough to do him. Instead, he got exposed in the worst way. It was a spit in the face to everybody who bought what he sold. With Gruden gone, he answered questions about the long-term vision of this team. It never had one. The foundation built on Gruden turned into Quick Sand.

No Surprises

It shouldn’t surprise that Gruden’s dated mentality exists in football coaches because we all experienced this at every level we played. Yet, Raiders fans must look back at the last time our franchise was great with shame. That’s the part that hurts us who don’t identify with the groups Gruden offended. Can we honestly say we deserved to win we look back at the Tuck Rule or the game when Siragusa sat on Rich Gannon? Maybe Al Davis was right thinking Gruden got ahead of himself. Davis made the trade when he needed somebody else to get him over the hump.

Either way, this is one more reminder that culture doesn’t change as fast as we want. The organization with a history that includes the first active gay player, first Black coach, first Hispanic head coach and highest ranking female executive was not saved from an insidious culture that enabled mediocrity and bigotry.

Raiders fans left the old Coliseum behind but this is one more reminder we can’t have nice things. One more reason for us Raiders fans to become divided. One more black eye from a long bout with the entire league carried with us. Another time for us to remember Mark Davis is not his father. 

The truth is, nothing should surprise us from these thousands of emails from the Washington Football team. This boys will be boys culture is as old as the game. Why do you think the NFL doesn’t think they are news?

Same Old NFL

Still, it’s pretty ironic that only the Raiders had emails from their head coach leaked. Maybe that’s cause Gruden is one of the last standing pillars of the old guard. More likely, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The iceberg that might finally put the Raiders into the position the NFL has always secretly wanted. They strategically released the emails mid season when they knew about them early in the summer. Checkmate Davis Family. 

Does that whole nobody is bigger than the shield motto include the family that built it? While I agree Mark Davis doesn’t seem like a bad guy, at the very least he is guilty of not knowing who his friends really were. That’s not a liability the Raider Nation or NFL can afford. Mark found us a home but maybe he was only meant to take us this far. I am not saying to cancel the guy but perhaps he needs to retire like many do when they move from Cali to Southern Nevada. Enjoy the equity and casinos. 

Process This

The point is, there are many layers to this Gruden situation. If we as fans need time to process this, how do you think these players and coaches feel? As much as I want to move on, I want to talk about everything but the Donkeys. Gruden takes most of the good memories I have as a Raiders fan with him.

Remember when Mark Davis said they always wanted Gruden even when they hired Del Rio? Mind you Del Rio grew up a Raiders fan and steady the ship during an uncertain time. Talk about tainting what it means to be a Raider. All of us had a peace that hoped Gruden would work out.

Obvious Questions

I don’t know what the team will look like with a new play caller who was actually Carr’s old offensive coordinator. Perhaps they both spring from the Gruden influence cocoon like butterflies. I don’t know much about Rich Bisaccia’s coaching philosophies.

Is Gus Bradley staging a coup and can his defense sustain with Mayock making the bulk of roster decisions? Will this team win for their exiled coach or will it show they won in spite of him? They could also waive the red flag and start getting ready for the future. But if the Raiders quit, I really won’t know what it means to be a Raiders anymore. At that point, I’ll really think the essence of the Silver and Black was left at some off strip slot.

Regardless, there are more questions than answers at the moment. Let’s see if this team plays hard and consistently fights for 60 minutes like they never could under Gruden. That’s the start.

We all know what it will take to beat our division foes. Running the ball, making big plays, sacking the quarterback and limiting the run. It’s not rocket science.

Can this Raiders team pull themselves out of the darkest hole? Does this team and coaching staff have the leadership with think it does? Will they make us feel an ever deeper bottom by playing bad the rest of the season?

Raiders Reminders

Nothing is more Raider than winning admit all this adversity. Raiders accept who they are and who they are not. They are not Jon Gruden’s Raiders anymore. Praise God.

Vegas is limited up front, banged up in the secondary and flawed enough to get exposed in bad spots on defense. They can push the ball down the field and rely on their dominant tight end to move the chains. The offense finds another gear when Josh Jacobs and Derek Carr find their highest gears.

Defensively, they need turnovers from the secondary. That’s what they relied on early in the season. A consistent pass rush versus a Denver team that wants to get the ball out is also important. Plus, you know the Broncos always want to run the ball versus the Raiders.

This week we find out exactly who this team is post Gruden. How will they come out fighting versus a familiar foe? The Raiders have their backs are against the wall and nobody would blame them for losing this game. Will they take the out like Gruden did?

What needs to happen is basic and written all over the walls. Commit to excellence, will your way to win and find just the right amount of autumn in the wind. Remind us one more time what that shield stands for by playing hard versus Denver and winning. Mark Davis show us you have the light when we need it most.

This football team must give us a reason to talk about football again by winning Sunday. Show us your professionalism beyond saying the right things in the press conference. Stop talking about how you’re ready to move on and show us that possibility. Make us proud to wear the Silver and Black. Take our colors and culture back from some overrated and dated coach who clout chased it all the way to exile.

2021: Back and More Silver than ever

Last season doesn’t really deserve an exit blog post. That is why you won’t find one on this blog. It’s also cause I’ve spent the last year raising teenagers. Thus, this is probably the least I’ve written about the Raiders over the last five years. Time to make up for lost time before the Raiders officially welcome fans to Allegiant for Monday Night Football..

2020’s Conclusion

Insert your favorite failed milk carton challenge and that’s what last year feels like for Raider Nation. The Raiders headed towards the right direction despite us all knowing it was built on a crooked foundation.

They reset the team pretty hard after a 6-3 start resulted in another missed playoff attempt. Many thought that would finally mean a new quarterback. Sike. Derek Carr is still leading the helm. At one point, they were even talking about extending dude. It’s not bad given the Lions got two first-rounders for Matt Stafford. AKA there was a premium even on solid-good quarterbacks.

This time the offensive line took the blame. Gone is staple Gabe Jackson. Trent Brown, once a marquee free agency acquisition, shipped for greener New England Pastures. Rodney Hudson is out of here too. Watch Hudson and Jackson both fill missing pieces for their respective NFC West teams. Davontae Booker and Nelson Agoholor are not returning on offense and that hurt a bit. Both were real bargains turned bright spots. It’s not surprising they left for more money and better opportunities.

Last season, our secondary never came along. The young players like Arnette and Abrams struggled along with many others. At least, Erik Harris and LaMarcus Joyner finally left the Silver and Black behind. Daryl Worley is gone too. Nevin Lawson is finally out as of the preseason. We were tired of seeing them in other team’s highlights.

Jeff Heath surprisingly got his walking papers. Despite getting picks, he was let go. Fellow former Cowboys Maliek Collins was not brought back. Raekwon McMillan, Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley never did much for the Raiders so they are out too. No use crying over spoiled defenders.

Arden Key and Mo Collins joined the 49ers after the Raiders wouldn’t even give them a shot to compete for a job. It’s ok because they underperformed but it was not that long ago we thought they would be still. Sorry to Reggie McKenzie’s draft picks. Derek Carr is the best one left.

Offseason Recap

Jon Gruden went out and hired one of the best defensive coordinators, Gus Bradley, to make this unit competent. He wasted no time putting together a new defense. Yannick Ngakoue joined as the marquee pass rush signing, despite all his previous Raiders trolling. Quinton Jefferson came from the Bills as a cap casualty. Soloman Thomas is a redemption project. The former top-five pick is still trying to stay healthy mentally and physically as he ascends in the league. Johnathan Hankins was brought back as the run stuffer.

Darius Philon was out the league but he is back with Bradley, his DC from the Raiders day. At least, David Irving is gone…

Safeties Trevon Moehring and Tyree Gillespie were added as good values in the draft. Rasul Douglas and Casey Hayward were added as vet corners to compete. Douglas didn’t make the roster. Karl Joseph came back after a really good year in Cleveland. It was surprising how cheap too.

On offense, their best signing was backup running back Kenyan Drake. The Raiders got a lot of flack for the signing since they were already good in the backfield. At least, Drake and Jacobs are good friends and know how to work together.

The team also drafted a right tackle with their first pick. Many people saw Alex Leatherwood as a developmental tackle taken too high. Many people, including me, thought the same thing about Kolton Miller but we were wrong. Either way, the tackles taken above Leatherwood are both banged up right now. Not a bad pick after all?

Otherwise, the team tried to replace Agoholor with John Brown. Brown asked for his releases after not being happy with his role. They also added veteran Willie Snead for some veteran presence and junk work. Zay Jones was brought back. It’s not the huge moves Raiders fans hoped for but they really believe in Hunter Renefrow, Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs III taking the next step. Cough, if you have three, you have no alpha. Either way, I think Snead is a versatile backup who fits the group. Jones and Carr get along well. The young guys hopefully take the next step developing as consistent starters.

Anyways, Denzelle Good is also back. He saved us in many OL crunches. Shoutout Khail Barnes! Andre James is also getting a lot of hype as Hudson’s replacement. Free-agent signee Nick Martin was supposed to push him in camp but I do not think that happened. There’s been a lot of talk about Andre James’ chemistry with Derek Carr this camp. Patrick Omameh and Richie Incognito are back. Incognito is already banged up and Omameh has never been more than depth. Omameh didn’t even make last roster cut. Hopefully, Jon Simpson can take the next step so we don’t rely on them.

Oh, Marcus Mariota also came back. The Raiders may trade him before the year ends or they put in a package just for him. They could use him like Baltimore used RGIII in spots or how the Saints used Hill in gadget formations.

The Draft

Once again, this draft could be defined by who the Raiders did not take. They kept the status quo at receiver and quarterback despite the blog-o-sphere hating it. They drafted more offensive linemen and defensive backs because their track record with developing those players is bad the past decade. Sorry Tanner Muse, another wasted third round pick. Muse should fit in Seattle though. Time will tell how we remember the 2021 class but the Raiders need Leatherwood to dominate instantly if they want to have a shot at the playoffs.

2021 Hope

Speaking of hope, the Raiders have some for the first time in a bit. Allegiant Stadium and the practice facility in Henderson are state-of-the-art. Hopefully, their A.C.s are too with that Vegas heat. LOL.

Right now, tickets in the blackhole are selling like at over $700 each. It’s a few hundred dollars just to get in the seats. Raiders Fans have been to games at Allegiant but imagine the playoffs? Hope we can all afford to make the trip. I’d hate to see the stadium gentrified with corporate betting sponsors and not Raiders fans. Well, I guess it’s better than shit on your feet from overflooded toilets when you’re peeing at halftime.

SoFi Stadium

Speaking of new stadiums, SoFI is everything good and bad that you heard. Yes, there’s traffic and it’s also the best football viewing experience I have ever felt. Corporate sponsorships are everywhere but that place was packed with Raiders fans when I went to watch us play the Rams. It’s definitely worth going to, especially when the Raiders play the Chargers on Monday night. Catch me in section 211.

AFC West

In Kansas City, the Raiders hold confidence as they nearly beat the Chiefs twice last year. However, that team should be just as good. Meanwhile, the rest of the Raiders’ AFC Rivals got better.

As for the rest of the AFC West, the Chargers do actually look good. I caught a few of their practices since I live in L.A. Justin Herbert might be the best quarterback in the AFC West, not named Pat Mahomes. The defense should also get healthy but to to be determined.

The Broncos added Teddy Bridgewater which should make them legit. Their defense also gets Von Miller back. Bridgewater with those weapons will be decent at the least.

Thus, the Raiders can’t just pencil in four division wins. They are going to win. If they don’t it should cost Jon Gruden his head. The coordinators and roster took the fall the past two years. It’s Gruden who should next if the Raiders can’t bring a playoff game to Vegas this year.

Those are high expectations but they come with having the most tenured quarterback and highest-paid coach in the division. If all you need was a defense, Bradley and the new additions should solve that… Right?

Something In the Water

You’ll notice I left Denzel Perryman and Gerald McCoy out of the acquisition segment. Why?

I wanted McCoy five years ago and Perryman two years ago if not when they came in the league. They always had the athleticism and chip on their shoulders to be Raiders.

Unfortunately, McCoy is off an injury. He joined the team late so he must have some juice left if they liked his workout? Or, they have no confidence in all the defensive line help they enlisted in free agency. It just felt weird.

Same for Perryman. They could’ve signed him this year or last. How did he not win a job in Carolina? The Raiders have invested in free agency and drafted the position in the past years. Usually, I go for adding veteran leadership and seeing what a player can bring.

Except for this time it feels like Vegas must not feel like they have enough if they traded for Perryman this late and flirted with K.J. Wright. They brought in Wright after final roster cuts. We will see what these guys have left when they have to chase LaMar and those AFC West Tight Ends.

I get Gus Bradley wants guys he knows, who also know his scheme. However, do you go back to your thing from two or three years ago if you got a better one five years younger? Hell Nah…

Guess we will find out in Week One

The Ravens come to Vegas and it will be a real test for the Raiders. Baltimore and the Raiders usually end in a dramatic fashion. This one shouldn’t be different. Lamar Jackson is a God and they added Sammy Watkins and Rashod Bateman to give him more weapons. Bateman got hurt but Hollywood Brown should be back. Good tests for the Raiders improved secondary and pass rush.

Baltimore also features veterans across the offensive and defensive line. Our revamped units will have a real tough matchup. The Ravens’ biggest test includes figuring out their own pass rush on the edge.

Oh yeah, Marcus Peters also comes to town. Although it’s not his town, you know he always has extra gear for the team he grew up loving. Let’s see if he can pick off Derek Carr and take one to Vegas’ end zone for Oakland. I’d hate and love to see that for the town. (Tear I wrote this before he got hurt! Prayers for Peters for real.)

The Ravens also had several injuries in their running back room. Their top-two runners both went down with injuries. They signed former Raiders runner Latavius Murray after dude refused to take a paycut in New Orleans. Murray has been solid since leaving the Raiders for shared roles in Minnesota and New Orleans. It looks like the Tay Train will make a stop in Vegas only a few weeks after the Raiders thought about signing him.

As long as the Silver and Black come out flying around and running the ball, they should be able to win Week One. Many bettors are calling Vegas a lot but Raiders fans know better than to get excited about that. The opening game usually comes down to heart, excitement and execution as many teams are far from finished products.

Either way, it could be a nice statement win to show the AFC that the Raiders can take down playoff contenders. All eyes will be on Gruden and the Raiders Monday Night as they start their quest to finally make the playoffs under their legendary coach.

Subscription received!

Please check your email to confirm your newsletter subscription.

If you liked this read tap into our weekly newsletter which provides the best Raiders rants and reads from hundreds of sources each week. Make sure you subscribe for free so you never miss a headline or insight before Sunday’s game.

Shout out to Eric Raider for the new logo and banner!

The Exclamation on 2020

Last week was the first week I missed publishing a column this season. It was part I forgot about the Saturday kickoff and part my disgust with the team. It’s one thing to miss the playoffs but it is another to miss it off an overtime national loss to your rivals. If the Raiders can pack it in so can I.

Things got worse when I heard Derek Carr was starting versus Miami. No disrespect to Carr as he is by far the best Raiders QB that I have seen. It is not his fault the Raiders have collapsed the past two seasons. However, he hadn’t been the solution either.

Marcus Mariota really provided a spark when he entered the Chargers game. I get you don’t lose a starting job to injury. Yet, the Raiders have routinely replaced QBs after injury. That is a commitment to excellent. The best players play.

It would’ve been nice to see Mariota play again after a full week’s practice. He gave the Raiders an added element with his legs. That is a weapon I wanted with the season on the end, especially in the red zone. Plus, they would’ve won the Chargers game minus Gruden’s conservative call in the red zone.

Still, Mariota doesn’t play safety. He couldn’t have bailed out a defense that gave up a game winning touchdown to Miami in a matter of seconds thanks to a blown coverage and unnecessary roughness call.

Yet, the difference was Miami having the balls to change quarterback. Tua is their guy long-term but Fitz helped them a little more and matched up a little better. With their backs against the wall, the Raiders went the QB with nothing to lose. Vegas did not.

The loss to Miami hurts even more since the Raiders lost to Miami a few years ago too. After that, the season unraveled as did the Jack Del Rio era. That Dolphins team made the playoffs. They were bad a few seasons in between but here they are making the playoffs again. Basically, they made the playoffs more recently than the Raiders and they rebuilt and turned it around faster than Vegas too.

Don’t forget former Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie is with Miami. The kicker in this is that Lynn Bowden Jr. for a fourth and then that fourth for Raekwon McMillan. So yeah the Dolphins are ran better than the Raiders.

Moving forward, the Raiders close their season in a division game versus the Broncos. It is basically a meaningless game besides the historic rivalry element. The Raiders will also start Carr and reports indicate they have no plans to move on from the QB who put up one of his best seasons statistically.

That’s cool and all but even Carr’s best year is only good for 8-8? Either the roster is so bad that Carr is the only reason they are 8-8 or Carr is really just an 8-8 QB who can be extraordinary with great weapons around him. Both options scream the roster isn’t enough.

It’s also what many of us screamed before the season. The only real selling feature of this team was Ferrell, Jacobs, Mullen and Crosby getting another year better. Abram, Ruggs and Arnette were supposed to be instant spark plugs. Joyner and Brown were supposed to be healthy. All of that made this team a sleeper playoff pick.

Unfortunately, none of that really happened. We should’ve expected that based on the team making a change at d-line coach despite that group playing great last year. Look at the track record developing picks. Did any of those 2-3 years players actually get better? Maybe Key or Morrow but that is about it.

Look at injury histories Joyner, Williams and Brown. We played ourselves thinking this year would be different.

My issue with the Raiders is they are chasing ghosts trying to remake Gruden’s glory years. That’s fine but they got to stick with it. Those Raiders teams were filled with experienced veterans providing competition. This team cut a lot of veterans opting for young players getting reps. That is fine but it is not a commitment to excellence. Play the best players regardless of age, salary or draft position. That’s what the Raiders do.

Why did the Raiders never try and add a veteran safety? There was so much starting experience at the position in free agency. They never added a pass rusher via trade until Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley. One was lost and the other hurt. The season was also getting away from them at that point. Yet, the Raiders kept fielding the same group expecting different solutions.

Every time we thought the Raiders found an identity they did something to undercut that. One week we thought this team would get driven by Jacobs. The next week we thought they could win off big plays with Carr and company. Another week it was everything thru Waller.

We fooled ourselves into thinking they could win in many ways. The truth is, they were just doing whatever they could to win. It’s fine for just Win Baby but it’s not how you build a culture that demands excellence.

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say we are doing whatever it takes to win but you aren’t signing and playing the best guys. You can’t say your building something when in year three you still don’t have an identity or even a great foundation. Jury is still out on Jacobs, Crosby, Ferrell, Mullen, Arnette and more. However, Littleton, Joyner, Brown, Nassib, and more have not been as advertised.

Frankly, Gruden himself hasn’t been as advertised. He has a worse record than Jack Del Rio. We are also asking ourselves the same questions as when JDR left. Is Carr enough? Who is the No. 1 receiver? Where is the pass rush, dbs and lbs? Is Jacobs really a workhorse?

We expected answers to these questions three years later. Joke is on us because maybe Gruden always was just a .500 coach. A coach who can help guys reach their potential shouldn’t be the end all be all of roster decisions. Gruden deserves some credit for getting this mediocre team playing hard but the proof is in the pudding. The Raiders need to get better from top to botfom.

Thus, the Raiders got one more week to prove they are building something. Prove you are getting better and establishing an identity. Prove you can beat a lesser team no matter what. Prove you can dominate physically and take what you want on offense That’s the Raider way.

This game also has meaning for guys like Maliek Collins and Nelson Agholor playing for their next contract. It means something for guys like McMillan and Joyner trying to prove they can be part of the solution. It matters for fans like us who want to end the season with our pallet cleansed from another late season collapse.

Let’s hope this team can end the season on a win. Sure, many of us didn’t think we’d make it to the end of the season with COVID. However, this new market team needs to give the fans the ending they deserve with a win over the Broncos. Show the world that we really aren’t too far from breaking through. Otherwise, another loss might signal time for yet another rebuild, retool or re whatever you call it.

Point is, we can’t except this 8-8 mediocrity. We also can’t fool ourselves into thinking this team is much better than the record indicates. The truth is the Raiders are probably a middle of the pack road with an above average QB and coach. That still doesn’t mean they shouldn’t beat up on the Broncos and get their young players ready for a playoff run next year. It’s what fans across the Raiders’ three homes deserve.

The fact is the Raiders need to win today not for the playoffs but for themselves and the culture. Get back on the path to excellence instead of enabling the mediocrity. Stop selling hope and just win. Stop making excuses and make excellence. This is the first game of next year as far as I am concerned. Well, I guess it is a new year!

Playoffs, 2010s and Winning in Denver

The Raiders gave Los Angeles the homecoming and goodbye it deserved with a big win over the Chargers this past Sunday. That plus some help kept them alive in the playoff hunt.

Sometimes when you win, you really lose.

All week I’ve been taking shit for saying the Raiders don’t deserve the playoffs but it is true. Our team isn’t very good on either side of the ball. We haven’t made a ton of adjustments. Injuries do not help either. All the stats prove that.

Nonetheless, I understand why people are in love with the idea of the playoffs. It is an all new season and a chance to keep playing for a Championship.

Still, if the Raiders do not stand a realistic chance, why show up? Just to say we did. It’s Just Win Baby! Not participation trophies.

Sure, if Tennessee and Pittsburgh lose maybe they don’t deserve the playoffs. However, there are already enough wins from the Raiders season that they don’t need one more blowout loss to the Chiefs or Texans to hinder the confidence of their young players. They don’t need that to be the lasting memory pending free agents have.

Instead, I’d rather have the Raiders finish where they are. An 8-8 team with promising prospects over their division with a 4-2 AFC West record assuming they beat the Broncos. That’s enough for me.

You want to sell stumbling into the playoffs off win over the Chargers and Broncos as added value? Nah, I’m good. Raiders got hella picks and a new stadium coming. A Playoff loss ain’t gonna do anything. I’m good on the false hope and failing up.

Let’s take a higher draft pick and go into the offseason with something to prove after missing the playoffs by a game.

The end of a decade

Playoffs or not, the Raiders will play their last game of the 2010s. This decade will go down with the 90s as the only two decades the Raiders never made a Super Bowl.

How will we remember this decade? What will we remember?

It’s fitting the Raiders are ending the decade as a 7-9 or 8-8 team. This decade was really a mixed bag of high expectations, underachieving an chaos. We saw the team figurehead and owner die. We saw four head coaches and two GMs.

We had a plethora of QBs before landing on one. Every other position was pretty much a revolving door of draft picks and bargain free agents. Many of the ones we developed left and few of the ones we signed really developed into anything more than what they were.

The team made the playoffs once, maybe twice if they make it this year. Otherwise, they were basically had no chance every other year.

We are closing out a stadium too. Ending the flooded toilets and baseball field but also saying goodbye to the most unique NFL market and tailgate experience.

Thus, the 2010s was really just a blur. IT was a mixed bag of false hope and just getting by,.

Luckily, the Raiders prospects for the next decade appear to be much higher. We know who the GM, Head coach and home market will be for the foreseeable future. We got plenty of draft picks and cap space. The players are young and the culture is brewing. Peace out 2010s.

Beating the Broncos

The formula for beating the Broncos is going to be the same as any week. The Raiders won last week because their secondary stepped up, they created pressure and their receivers made some plays. Oakland will need all that this week too.

The Raiders secondary will get challenged by Courtland Sutton. He’s big and fast. The Broncos tight ends are also solid.

Upfront, the Raiders got to pressure rookie quarterback Drew Lock. The tougher issue is doing that while also not creating too many cutback seems or running lanes for Phillip Linday or Royce Freeman. We know that Broncos offensive zone scheme too well.

Offensively, the Raiders also got to see if Hunter Renfrow can make good on last week’s performance by doing it again. Denver’s defense is far from the greatness earlier this decade but it is still really good in spots.

The o-line will face Von Miller. Our offensive line is going to need to step up like they did last week, especially since four of the five starters were on the injury report last week. Moreover, the Raiders are going to be without Josh Jacobs. DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard are playing for contracts and roster spots next year. They did well last week but they need to do it again too.

Ultimately, the Raiders should win this game. Yes, it’s on the road and they are banged up but they have a sizeable advantage at QB. That is if Carr can actually get his life together and win a cold weather game.

Either way, the Raiders need to win this game. Not for the playoffs but for themselves. For their jobs and pride. F the Broncos!