Raider Nation: Why is it Different This Year?
I keep hearing the same questions from doubters. The same regurgitated comments. I keep reading these un-insightful points of view. This reproduced ESPN analysis from uneducated Raider Haters.
You see, the babble they spew is chock full of absurdity. Here is an example of what they might say, "The Raiders have talent, but it's too bad this or that player ended up on their team because they will never live up to their potential now."
You see, this comment is just completely illogical. There is just no other way to put it. It is pure twaddle.
I am talking to all of you haters who think you know and truly have no idea. There is no doubt in my mind this year, that's why it is different.
We have hired coaches with an amassed 81 years of experience coaching in the NFL just by hiring John Marshall, Paul Hackett, Ted Tollner, and Dwaine Board.
These guys are directly a result of new head coach Tom Cable's past. They are "Cable's Guys" despite some doubter's beliefs that Al hired them before Cable was hired, so therefore they cannot be a direct result of Cable's contact with them.
Let me provide you fellows and ladies some clairvoyance. The reason that some of the assistant coaches were hired before Tom' permanent hire was announced, was because it was all done during, or around the time of the Super Bowl.
Al was gracious enough to save the major announcement of the head coaching vacancy for after the "glory game" of the year. He didn't want to steal any headlines, which we Raiders' fans agree is commendable.
The assistant's were hired first, for one, to lock them up and make sure they would be with our organization this year. Secondly, they were hired earlier because Al knew it wouldn't make headlines like the hiring of a head coach. Plus, he knew Tom was locked in and wasn't going anywhere.
I honestly don't know where some of you get off. This team has had double digit losses for six straight season, this is true. It is also a genuine comment that this team has had some draft day busts, but what team hasn't?
However, not all of their draft picks have been busts. Not all of our players development has been lost in the mist of losing seasons. Here is a small list in alphabetical order of "not busts":
2003 first round pick: Nnamdi Asomugha, who is widely considered the best developed cornerback in the NFL.
2007 fourth round pick: Michael Bush, who the team got a heck of a deal on. Bush was once considered to be in the mix with Adrian Peterson as one of the top HB's selected in 2007.
2003 third round pick: Justin Fargas, a guy who plays with more heart and passion then most people can even muster. His courage and drive has been contagious and has led him to two straight commitment to excellence awards from his teammates.
2007 third round pick: Johnnie Lee Higgins. While it is widely known Higgins led the Raiders in receptions last year with 22 catches; it is not widely known that he had 13 of those 22 in the last three games of the year in which he also posted three TDs. Higgins is also a highly regarded punt returner.
2006 second round pick: Thomas Howard, a guy who is considered one of the best cover LB's in the game today. He has recorded 302 tackles in three seasons and intercepted seven passes.
2007 second round pick: Zach Miller, a guy who is a rising star. Not only do the experts expect him to replace Tony Gonzalez in the AFC, but many are predicting that this guy will make the Pro Bowl this year.
2005 third round pick: Kirk Morrison, who is considered to be the leader of the defense by his teammates. He has recorded 498 tackles in four seasons, which is an average of 124.5 per year. Like Howard, Kirk is considered a great coverage LB, and has seven Interceptions as well.
These are just the most notable picks out of AL Davis' henchmen over the "dark days." There are also players who the Nation still believes it is too early to pull the plug on. These are men who make the fans feel like this year will be different. This is one of the youngest teams in the NFL, and they are chock full of talent.
Throw in some veteran leadership this year like we haven't enjoyed since the days of Bill Romanowski, Rod Woodson, Eric Allen, and Jerry Rice.
For the quarterbacks, Jeff Garcia, a ten year NFL veteran whose job is to push JaMarcus to be better. He is doing such a good job at his job that he has you people thinking he might get a crack at starting.
As far as the running backs, Lorenzo Neal, who had blocked for 1,000 yard runners eleven seasons in a row prior to last year when Le'Ron McClain only reached 900+ yards. I will also throw in Justin Fargas as a veteran here.
The wide receivers are almost all too young, except for Javon Walker. If Walker does nothing on the field this year, he will still be a pivotal part of the young WR's advancement this season. Word out of the Raiders' camp is that Walker has already adapted to his leadership role with the up and coming receivers.
On the offensive line, Cooper Carlisle, who came over from the Mike Shanahan days of a successful Denver team. Cooper is a 10-year vet, and the Raiders also added Eric Pears, who is an experienced zone blocker from the Shanahan days in Denver as well.
Greg Ellis is going to make a big time difference on the defensive line. He is moving back to his more natural position which is a down lineman position. Not only that, but the coaches have already began raving about his leadership amongst the young players, and he is motivated to prove himself after his Cowboys' departure.
Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard, the aforementioned LB's who have had their share of success despite riding waves of criticism from various sources, have been asked to take on the leadership role in the linebacking corps. This group is referred to as "The Law Firm" and is currently taking applications for a third partner.
The DB's are led by conceivably the best cornerback in the NFL. Nnamdi has put it upon himself to be more of a leader this year than he has been in previous years. He understands better the value of what he has learned and what it could mean sharing it more openly with his teammates.
In addition to the new found leadership this season, another reason to think they will be a different team this year is the special teams play. Reputably the best kicker/punter combination in all of the NFL, and they've played together for approaching ten years now.
Al Davis also was of right enough mind to recognize what he had on special teams was a special unit. He went so far as to sign many of the key players on the unit during and prior to free agency. Players including Sam Williams, Isiah Ekejiuba, and Justin Miller.
To futher cement the notion that this year is a different animal, the coach and owner relationship is one of the best that we've seen in a long time. Many of these headshakers say that, "Al never let's the coaches coach."
This declaration is completely an outsiders perspective. One skeptic even went so far as to tell me that, "Al hasn't let any coach coach since (Tom) Flores." This is a rediculous notion. Flores was the coach in the early '80s. I don't feel like I even have to acknowledge this sentiment.
The bottom line is that Tom Cable is a life-long Raiders fan, homologous to many of his current supporters here in the Raider Nation. He understands Al Davis' ways finer than any other candidate for this job possibly could.
If this makes him a puppet then so be it. The one thing we know so far is that he has excelled in bringing a revival of a frame of mind that made the Oakland Raiders one of the most storied franchise's in all of professional sports.
Tom will be a grand slam in the AFC West this year. He will assuredly be a big hit in the entire AFC conference in years to come. This is his team, he is running the show, and he will be the one responsible for silencing the doubters.
This year is different. It is not just the false hopes of a united nation. It is different because you can feel it in the air this time. It is a far cry from years past when we were full of just optimism. Contradistinct from the days of Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Art Shell, and Lane Kiffin.
This year, and the later half of last season, we believe what we are seeing is change. Admittedly, in years past, it was all cumulative false hopes of a nation in anticipation. This time, it is a error in the doubters early judgements (ie. Cris Carter, Mel Kiper).
To have this team on your power rankings at team 29 is ridiculous. To watch them have such a strong finish last year and ridicule them is absurd. They ended last season ranked 25th on the list of 32 teams.
You cannot honestly think that they are going to get worse this year, that thought alone is foolheaded. You can say that Al davis is "losing it," you can say that Tom Cable is his "puppet," but don't say that this team is regressing when such progress has been made.
To be frank, your agnosticism is amusing. There is no reason for us to debate with you furthermore at this time. The only thing for Raider Nation to do is laugh and point in your face when we are proved to be correct in our assessment.
So do your doubting, without you we'd be unable to bang out these explications. Without your criticism we might find ourselves less constructive. So, upon beginning this topic of argumentation, I found myself at odds with your brood. Nearing the end, I find myself at ease and much obliged to you for your negativity.
Thank you for helping us develop our current thought process. Without you we would be worse off. Well done haters, keep drinking the hater-aid.
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