I was talking to a buddy on Sunday night and I told him, “This is the worst year the Raiders have had since their Super Bowl run in 2002, and the record-setting history of futility began.” Early on in 2003 it was pretty apparent that the Super Bowl swagger of ’02 had been quickly erased, and we haven’t seen anything remotely close to that ever since.
And from there, things just got worse, and worse, and worse. And did I mention WORSE?
And yet, anyone who covers the Raiders can’t help but get sucked into the “Greatness of the Raiduhs,” as their 104-year old owner used to say. Any chance we have to grasp at straws, we lap up the Kool-Aid.
“JaMarcus Russell can throw the ball from his knees 60 yards,” we sang in unison.
JaMarcus Russell can’t throw the ball to anyone from anywhere. On his knees, standing up, sitting down, at a carnival, in a pick-up game. He sucks! We roared in two-part harmony.
“Robert Gallery is the next Anthony Munoz,” we all hummed, ‘cause we didn’t know the lyrics.
“Robert Gallery is more like Frankie Muniz,” we crooned, ‘cause we croon when we’re about to vomit.
“Darren McFadden is a can’t-miss prospect,” we yodeled (hey, yodel is another word for sing, and how often do I get a chance to use “yodel”?).
“Darren McFadden can’t miss the trainer’s room,” we chanted. All 32,000+ fans in attendance last week–the lowest total in over 40 years, I might add, so if it sounded like we were warbling, it’s because 30,000 or more Raider fans stayed home.
The point is, when we sing, hum, and yodel, we really should be crooning, roaring, and chanting. And we should be saying, “Show us something before we jump back on your bandwagon,” because I’m through pretending that this team is anything but the Golden State Warriors of the NFL.
Bruce Gradkowski has been good since taking over the starting quarterback job from Jason Campbell. The Raiders haven’t lost because of him, but they haven’t won either.
Last week in Arizona it was poor performances within the Red Zone, and a kick that ended up in Mesa, when it should have gone to Scottsdale.
This week, it was another old ditty (that’s the first time that word has been used since John Cougar Mellencamp used it in ’85…the fact that I said Cougar in his name should tell you how long it’s been), “The Raiders’ porous run-defense.” For years I’ve said that the run-defense was bad, but not as bad as the stats say they are.
My logic was this: When a team is down by 14-21 points on a consistent basis, the other team will run the ball more, and, the defense will get tired, and that combo will inflate your numbers. And while that theory is solid, the real reason is the Raiders’ run-defense blows. 250 yards for the Texans this past week, when their best receiver didn’t even suit up! Uhhh, note to Raiders: Without Andre Johnson, maybe you should put 7 in the box, and take the running game out of the equation?
Like it mattered. They ran wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted. And that’s what led me to the call with my friend on Sunday evening. For years we had no right being on the same field with most of these teams. But now, we’ve improved. We’re just good enough to lose close games, and that’s much more painful than being completely outmatched and outplayed.
Almost as painful as listening to a ditty about Jack and Diane in a karaoke bar.