After a solid performance against the Eagles in which JaMarcus Russell looked decent if unspectacular. A win at home against the reeling Jets, who were starting a struggling rookie quarterback and travelling across the country, seemed not only feasible, but realistic.
The worst home loss in franchise history has served to blow that theory clean out of the stratosphere.
This team cannot find an identity. When they play well, they beat up their opponents, dominate at the point of attack and swarm the ball. When they play well, they can hang with most teams in the NFL.
When they play poorly, they are the worst team in the league, hands down. And yes, I'm aware this is a historical year for very, very bad NFL teams. But, when Bad Raiders show up, they trump all the rest.
The Raider Nation is currently experiencing their seventh straight season of mountainous disappointment, with no end in sight.
Perhaps the worst time of all the seven years is right now. See, the reason for that is that we all know this team has talent. We know they have a solid defense, the potential for a great running game, and athletes on both sides of the ball that can make game-changing plays.
This is not a terrible roster. They just play that way 75 percent of the time.
The problem is, talent is not the only factor when it comes to winning in the NFL. Coaching and preparation is just as important, if not moreso, and it's in that area that we seem to be sorely lacking.
Tom Cable is trying to be too clever, and he ends up outsmarting himself and his team. How else to explain throwing on the first play of the game when we're backed up to our own 4 yard line?
It's almost as if he says, "Our passing game is struggling mightily. Our running game is solid. They're obviously going to try and stop the run. So let's pass!"
Which would be a great strategy...if JaMarcus Russell and our receivers resembled anything close to dynamic NFL players right now, which they unfortunately do not.
I truly believe Richard Seymour was being genuine when he said this team was making the playoffs. Of course, he hasn't been in Oakland long, so he doesn't realize that this team follows inspired performances by taking the next week off. He hasn't experienced the schizophrenic nature of this team.
We all know it all too well, and never has it been more prominent than this season.
Seymour's getting it now. Another personal foul toward the end of the Jets game, his second during a blowout this season, spoke to that. As did his "we couldn't beat a high school team today" comments after the game.
Disaster on Sunday could've been averted if Cable had simply called for a run on the first two or three plays of the game. Get 3-6 yards, get some breathing room, put J-Rock in a better, more manageable situation. Don't put him in a position to have to make a big play on the first play of the game from his own four. He hasn't shown anything this season which makes that a logical choice.
But nope. Instead, drop back to pass with a brand new right tackle and a mistake-prone QB from your own goalline. You know, because passing plays have worked so well from our end zone thus far. This is the fourth time I count Cable making a poor play call at the goalline and it either costing us the ball, or a safety.
Russell is certainly not absolved of blame. But for those saying Gradkowski was better; no, he was not. In fact, he looked worse than Russell throwing the ball; his legs were pretty dynamic though. As for Jeff Garcia: there's a reason he's still unemployed folks, despite the need for QB's in various places around the league.
The most frustrating thing about JaMarcus Russell is his apathy toward his own performance. No matter the numbers he puts up, he's always talking like he had a good game, and has never expressed disappointment or anger at his poor play. Nor has he owned up to it.
His personality, at least, is consistent. He can do no wrong and is just a "laid back" dude. Whatever. We're tired of it, to a man. You've been terrible; man up, admit it, and go to work.
His work ethic is improving by all accounts, as he's been the last player to leave the facilities quite a bit lately. This is confirmed by coaches and Eric Coleman's twitter account, as well as Jerry McDonald's blog.
That's a step in the right direction, but the kid still knows it's his job to lose. The benching seemed not to register with him at all. He's got such a sense of entitlement that it really makes you sick as a fan.
This is a team at war with itself. It's a team that should win with running and defense; instead, it's a team that is handcuffed by a mandate to improve the passing game despite not really having the tools to do so.
The defense simply gave up on Sunday due to offensive ineptitude. Seriously. After we were down 7-0, the D pitched a three and out. After we were down 14-0, the team pitched another three and out. At one point in the first quarter the Jets had had four possessions, and had about two yards rushing and Sanchez was 2/5 for 16 yards.
Then, Russell threw his second interception when the team was marching down field to potentially get back in the game, and gave the Jets a short field for the third time.
The defense then said "see ya later," and took the rest of the day off.
To improve the passing game we need a better offensive line, a quarterback who understands the NFL game better, and wide receivers that can get open and catch the ball when it's thrown to them.
We currently have none of those things.
This is a team in search of an identity, and as such, shows many different personalities and many different faces; many of which are ugly.
This team needs to figure out whether they want to be the guys who show up inspired and want to win, or if they just want to go through the motions until the season ends and they can look forward to next year. We all prefer the latter, but really, just some constency one way or another.
Because we can't take this Sybil act anymore.