Monday, October 13, 2008
Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light.
For we Raiders fans, I think Milton summed it up pretty well. However, there are two things we need to keep in mind:
1.) There is some kind of light that the team and organization can get to
2.) At least we're not the Cincinnati Bengals
Let's be honest, after this circus, things probably can't get much worse, could they? After Sunday you do have to wonder.
13-35 passing. 6-16 on third down. 226 yards of total offense. 85 net yards rushing, with no back over 35 yards for the game. No sacks on defense until 3:26 left in the fourth quarter. 34 unanswered points.
By any estimation, that's miserable. Not a great start to Tom Cable's interim tenure (recent history would tell you that every Raiders coach is pretty much "interim") as head coach of the Raiders. I don't think there's a person that follows NFL football that would argue that. How could there be a light at the end of this tunnel?
Think (and hope) Troy Aikman. That's right. Troy Aikman. He went 0-11 as a starter in 1989 after coming out of UCLA as the number one overall pick in the 1989 draft. The rest is pretty much history and a Hall of Fame career. Can Russell be that type of QB? Can McFadden be our Emmitt Smith? Can any transformation happen as fast as it did from the 1989 to the 1990 Cowboys? It can. The questions we really need to ask are, can Russell fix the accuracy, can we get some real wide receivers and will Al Davis allow for just 10 minutes of consistency within the franchise for the future to begin to take shape?
Russell's going to be a work in progress, we all know that. Unfortunately, today's world of professional sports is not conducive with having patience. There's just too much at stake ($$$$$$$$). His baptism by fire started on Sunday. Knapp's first spin with the play sheet was of mixed results. There were definitely more pass plays and less running plays. McFadden saw the field less. Our offense was predictable, Russell and the receivers were out of synch and we couldn't convert a third down. Yet, I wasn't discouraged. We all can see the passing offense is predictable and Russell leaves a bit to be desired in picking up the offense, reading defenses and seeing the field. But let's remember, Dan Marino wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer and that turned out ok. He just has to learn (and, hopefully, learn quickly). The physical skills are there. You could see them again on Sunday.
Now, I have to beg the question.....can we get some real receivers, please, Al? You're talking about Fargas and Bush being on the trading block to clear some cap room, you'd better be in the market for a receiver or some early round draft picks in the 2009 NFL draft to pick up a receiver (or to clear cap room to keep Asmougha). Javon Walker is not going to cut it, especially given where his head is and has been. The young guys (Higgins and Schillens) look ok, but we need a play maker, someone for Russell to be confident in and comfortable with. Lelie is not the answer. Higgins is yet unproven.
Now on to a word that has not been in the Oakland Raiders vocabulary for the past 6 years. Consistency. Please, Al. For the sake of all that's Silver and Black. For the love of The Ghost to the Post. Give the team and organization some consistency. Let Russell learn a system that will be in place for longer than 20 games. Cable has a great attitude and has a very good no-nonsense approach, but everyone can see he's not the longterm solution. Whatever's decided and whenever that may be (paging Jim Fassel), give it time to work. Russell needs time, McFadden needs time, the coaching staff needs time, the organization needs time. Not a decade. Just a couple years. At age 79, we know that time is at a premium, but the Raiders will endure long after Al. They will endure because of what Al has done for the organization. The past 6 years are working to undo all that, but I don't think it can or will happen. Al's son was in his suite with him at the Superdome on Sunday, so who knows what that may spell for the future, but with some consistency, we will win again.
It's just a question of how soon and how easy it will be to get to the light.
(Editors Note: I just wanted to give a quick shot out to Metsradamus and his brother for the inspiration for this. Be sure to pay Metsradamus' blog a visit to see a world class blog from a guy that shows what it means to be a true fan.)