As I hopped into my car Tuesday morning and turned on sports radio, I was anxiously awaiting the same thing as always following my favorite team's game: analysis.
And then, I was stunned.
The sad part is that it was the same stunned feeling I got reading tweets, message boards and comments during and immediately following the game.
I was stunned was because the same Oakland Raider fan base that had entered Monday night with so much hope, excitement and anticipation had left it with disappointment, accusations and negativity, despite a pretty decent performance, all things considered.
Sure, the Raiders lost to the Chargers—that stings, and will continue to sting all season. But when we look beyond just the score and into how the game played out, we'll see that Raider fans have plenty of reason to enter Week 2 with the same hope, excitement and anticipation that they had Week 1.
As with any football team, things all begin with the quarterback, and in Oakland it's absolutely no different.
Riddled with criticism for his poor play last season, his inconsistent play this preseason and his inability to avoid turning the ball over, Carson Palmer had more eyes on him than almost any quarterback in the league this week.
Are you worried about the Raiders and Palmer after one game?
And at the end of the day, he played pretty damn well.
Sure fans and analysts are going to criticize his decision making, especially the fact that he "checked down" or "dumped it off" on most of his passes, but we've got to remember the situation he was put in.
For starters, look at who lined up at receiver.
Obviously Darrius Heyward-Bey was his number one threat, but beyond him, Oakland was starting an undrafted rookie and a guy they added four days earlier.
Think about that.
An undrafted rookie in Rod Streater—a guy that every team passed on around seven times and a guy who caught 19 passes as a senior at Temple. Where was he Monday night? Starting in the NFL.
Next to him was Derek Hagan, a guy who's on his third team since 2010 and was recently cut by the Buffalo Bills. Not good enough for the Bills? Welcome to primetime.
Now hear me out on this, because I'm a big fan of both Streater and Hagan. My point is this: it wasn't Palmer's top fleet of receivers on Monday night.
Sure Streater and Hagan are nice pieces, but assuredly, neither of these guys were making Palmer's job particularly easy by getting open or running perfect routes like Denarius Moore or Jacoby Ford would have.
(Update: maybe Ford won't be an answer in the coming weeks, as rumors say he might be out for an extended period of time after having surgery)
I think both guys played well, but again, they aren't Pro Bowlers.
Despite all that, Palmer still threw for just under 300 yards, completed nearly 70 percent of his passes and threw zero interceptions.
So he enters the game with criticism about his penchant for turning the ball over and being too aggressive, but then when he does the exact opposite, he gets criticized just the same?
Yes, the Raiders lost to a divisional rival and the sting isn't going away quickly, but lets think before we start assigning blame. This game wasn't lost by Palmer and the Oakland offense, it was lost because of some bad luck on special teams and a few dumb penalties on defense.
While the Oakland offense wasn't as explosive as some had hoped, my message is simple: wait until they get healthy. If Palmer is still dinking and dunking with a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal and the team is only scoring 14 points, then we can talk.
Until then? Give Palmer a break.