Is the Commitment To Excellence Finally Back In Oakland?

Sergio SernaCorrespondent IJuly 7, 2008

Since 2002, when the Oakland Raiders were picked apart by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, never had such a winning franchise fell so completely off the map.

In the five seasons since the Super Bowl appearance, the Raiders have won less than 20 games.

Where is the blame to be placed? The coaches? The players? Al Davis? The NFL itself?

Honestly, the Raiders were old, plain and simple.

While that did work in the short-term, eventually everyone's body starts to deteriorate. Follow that up with lack of focus due to sub-par coaching, and spoiled star players.

The solution, first, the search for a head coach. Oakland had four coaches in five years. Follow that up with some risky but smart draft choices, and now excellence is finally back on the horizon.

It all started with the Raiders doing something that has worked very well in the past. When Lane Kiffin was hired after being co-offensive coordinator at USC, the young unknown head coach trend continued. Then the remaking continued when the Raiders changed their strategy by drafting a quarterback with the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Things started to look positive.

However, after a long holdout with JaMarcus Russell not signing until after the first week of the season, it became apparent that 2007 would be yet another disappointing season.

Finally fed up with the state of the team he once built into "the winningest team in pro football," Al Davis opened his checkbook and splashed out some real money to improve his team.

Those moves brought in Gibril Wilson, Javon Walker, and Drew Carter. Mr. Davis even re-signed several key players to keep them in Oakland, paying out big money contracts to Tommy Kelly and Justin Fargas. Then a blockbuster trade brought in DeAngelo Hall, and finally in the 2008 Draft the Raiders brought in rookie Darren McFadden.

Adding these players to the current crop of talented young players, the Raiders already had, you have the building blocks for a possible playoff appearance in 2008 are in place.

While many will tell you that Oakland will still be bringing up the rear in 2008. It's those very people that have not looked at the schedule the Raiders have this season. With teams like Miami and Atlanta on the schedule, the Raiders have a real chance to go 10-6 this season, and that might just be enough for a wild card spot in the playoffs.

But as the old saying goes, "on any given Sunday," so keep and eye on Oakland this year as Raider Nation may just remind the NFL why they have a commitment to excellence.