Holla at me RAIDER NATION!
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE RAIDER NATION!!!!
To quote one of my favorite musical groups (stained) "It's been a while.." since I've written (did you miss me?). In case you were wondering I have been watching and listening to everything Raider related. I felt that now would be a good time to get some things off my chest; Seeing how It's the end of the regular season: which means that the playoffs, along with the off-season drama is just about to begin. One thing I've learned (being a Raider from Birth) is to expect the unexpected.
I know there are people who are expecting Al Davis to fire Tom Cable. As I said in the title of my article: Expect the Unexpected - It's my impression that, despite losing the last two games of the season Tom Cable will be back as Raider Head Coach next year. I don't need to get into his record with the team, I'm not going to talk about his head coaching / offensive play calling experience (or lack there of). Tom will be back next season for one simple reason: The team (as a whole) plays hard for Cable. There is no real reason (I can see) to interfere with the continuity the team is developing.
I've watched this team under so called "lame duck" (see Lame.. I mean Lane Kiffen) coaches and under guys who were fixtures at coach, and I can tell you that this team did not play as if Cable was a "lame duck" on his way out. Moreover, there is no one out there better suited for the job (willing to take it); Cowher is not coming to Oakland, nor is Gruden or Madden or any other "Superbowl Ring Wearing Coach". Furthermore I believe the team doesn't really need one of those guys because they're on the verg of being a playoff team without them. That's right I said it PLAYOFF'S!!
THAT'S RIGHT RAIDER NATION!!! OUR TEAM WILL BE IN THE PLAYOFFS NEXT SEASON!! So if you were expecting another losing year or even an 8-8 season forget it! There are a couple of ways for a franchise to have a "reversal of fortune". I was reminded of one when I watched the N.F.C. Championship game between San Fran and the Cowboys (THE CATCH GAME). I was reminded that Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, and many of the now famous 49ers had not been with the team for that long. Furthermore, there was no Jerry Rice, no Roger Craig and a host of other now famous 49ers were not even in that game! What they had were guys who (a) didn't know much about losing and (b) guys who were tired of losing. Now I'm not saying our Raiders have the same pieces in the same places as that niner team; Nor am I saying were going to change into the 49ers(don't panic Raider Nation!!!) but, think about this for a moment.
Think back to when Richard Seymour joined The Raiders. Remember when he spoke about the team being involved in the playoffs? Remember how reporters were all over him?, Why were they all over him? I'll tell you why - because THEIR used to losing and don't see the team in the playoffs that's why. However, Richard is not used to losing, he's not used to being on a team that doesn't play in the post season. I know there were other members of The Raiders who shared his view but they don't have jewelry so no one (reporters) pays attention when they speak. Most of those so called "reporters" as we in the Nation know ARE NOT REALLY RAIDER FANS!!! They're just Haters who write crap about our team (which is why we write our own articles!! - holla at me Nation!!) However, when you get a guy like Seymour talking, he's a guy that the people with the tape recorders listen to. He's also a guy that other team mates will listen to. He (and others) have, and will continue to spread a winning attitude and this is like an infection; It spreads quickly though the body of the team. Think about even more recent Raider history; Did you notice how Cable also mentioned the word playoffs? Listen up Raider Nation: We've got (for the most part) a core group of talented players who (a) don't know much about losing or (b) are tired of going 4-12, 5-11, ext, ext, Their ready to win (kinda like that niner team).
However, as the 49ers reminded me- it's a process. They didn't just come out of no where to win that game (it only seemed like they did at the time). You have to learn and develop into a champion. You have to do some losing. You have to develop your chemistry, your trust. You have to find a desire to be the best; Which takes time, and more importantly having the right people in the right places. We, as fans know what it takes for a team to be successful. However, we forget that it's a totally different process when you're the player and not the fan. Fans don't have to work at their game (we just show up). Fans don't have to make plays under pressure (we just show up). Fans don't have to do the right things off the field (we just go home and write articles).
It's taken (more) time than anyone really wanted BUT, the team is (at long last) in a position where the players understand what it means to wear Silver & Black. Being a Raider is not like being a member of just any N.F.L. franchise; Of course guys are happy to be "in the show" but, there is a big difference between wearing a Raiders jersey and wearing a Lions jersey. When you wear Silver & Black you always play against the refs, and you always get the other teams A game. The players on The Raiders now have an understanding that they need to have a commitment to excellence.
I'm not saying were going to win The Superbowl next year but, we have enough talent to win 10 games; Maybe we're a low seed and get bumped in the first round but, it's all part of the process. The important thing to remember is that The Raiders finally have enough young, hungry talent; Who are not familiar with the losing ways of the franchise, and enough vets who are tired, and or not used to losing (who can help guide our young hungry talent in the right direction). This team (more so than not) is ready (finally) to do the unexpected (from some) and content for a spot in the post season.
This is such a touchy topic for so many in the nation I almost hate to get into in. I know there are many of you out there who want to see JaMarcus out of Oakland; To those of you who are in that camp I have to say... expect the unexpected. I for one, was hoping that The Raiders would go out and get a legit quarterback; Someone with real starting and playoff experience. I hate to say it (or should that be write it?) but, at this point I dont see that happening. The team is close, and they know it. We've all seen how the team can perform with just average Q.B. play so what that means is The Raiders are going to bring in some guys to compete for the job BUT, if you were (like me) expecting to see a top flight guy come to Oakland your going to be upset. J-Russ will have at least one more full season in Silver & Black; I'm not saying he's going to start under center but, he will be a member of the team.
The simple fact is that J-Russ has a gift. I will compare this to being a 7 footer and playing basketball. It doesn't matter if I a guy can make a foul shot, or shoot a 3 pointer. If he's a 7 footer it's going to take a lot for a basketball team to give up on a guy. I remember a pass J-Russ threw in that Raven game; It went by a defender on the left and the right (they crashed into one another) and hit the wide out right on target. Of course a few plays later J-Russ fumbled the ball away but, I could not help but remember that pass and I thought back to Mike Vick. I remember seeing him run by two defenders one on the left and one on the right (they crashed into one another also). I was thinking (during that Vick play) how amazing is this guy? Same thing with that J-Russ pass. He has the ability to make the difficult throw look easy (see Brett Farve). The problem with J-Russ is that he can make the easy look difficult. However, if given a choice I would rather work on fixing guy who makes the ordinary look difficult as opposed to a guy who makes the difficult look ordinary. How do you coach a guy so that he makes the difficult pass look ordinary? Simple YOU CAN'T. That has to be a natural talent and like him or not J-Russ makes the difficult throws look easy. He's been working on his game and although he did throw a pick and lost a fumble I did see some positives in his play. He looked more fluid in his movement and looked some what more intelligent in some of his decision making. This is as simple as I can make if for you Nation. JaMarcus, to Al is like Steve Austin (The Six Million Dollar Man). Al is going to do everything he can to rebuild him (including adding members to the staff to coach him directly) which lead me to my next topic.
I know some in the Nation were expecting (crazy as it sounds as I type it) for Al Davis to step down. This is NOT going to happen. I know there are some of you in the Nation (myself included) who want Al to hire a General Manager. This also is NOT going to happen. (HEY DON'T BLAME ME... I'M JUST THE MESSENGER) Unexpected behavior to some, business as usual for others. However, there will be (and have been) staff changes. We have a new W.R. coach, moreover, we've brought back Cables boxing partner (talk about expect the unexpected).
Well Raider Nation, expect to see more staff members added to the organization. Expect Cable to get some help with the offense. Also don't be surprised if JaMarcus get more attention. I see him with a personal trainer (and I'm not joking) working on getting him in better shape (during this off season) I also see Cables boxing partner working closer with J-Russ to help him with the mental aspect of his game; If Al doesn't bring in another Q.B. coach (just for J-Russ).
Whatever the case may be with the coach, the staff, the quarterback one thing is constant: You can never REALLY know what's going on with The Raiders (unless your Al Davis of course) but, to be honest with you that's one of the things that makes our team unique you always have to be prepared to expect the unexpected.