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.
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.
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.
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?
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.