That title might seem like rose colored glasses to some people, but consider this. Around this time a year ago, the Raiders looked like a traveling circus, and by that I mean, the freak show.
They were getting pummeled. And I wrote articles that reflected my ire.
Despite the 1-3 start this year however, the Raiders are still doing well in the "eye test." The numbers might not be spectacular, but when you watch the game, the Raiders are clearly a different team.
The Raiders thus far remind me of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003.
That year marks the end of what was a long drought for the Bengals, as could 2010 for the Raiders.
The quarterback steward, Jon Kitna, came in and provided some life for Bengals, as has Bruce Gradkowski for the Raiders. The Bengals started 1-4 that year and finished the season at 8-8, yet the Bengals lost a few games that they should have won.
One such game was in week 2 against the Raiders, 20-23.
The Bengals for the most part, had outplayed the Raiders that day. Ironically, the Raiders would win at the end with a field goal by none other than Sebastian Janikowski.
I don't know why, but that is one of those games that sticks in my mind. In fact, I remember what I was doing that day. Yes, it is kinda like Rain Man. Perhaps, it is because I subconsciously concluded that that day was the beginning of the Era of Stink for the Raiders.
Slow and Steady
Regardless of that, the Raiders need to take the "slow and steady" approach and not do things that can result in serious injuries.
The status of both is still technically unknown, but Gradkowski expects to start against San Diego.
Without any major set-backs, the Raiders could still finish the season on a strong note, but I'm more concerned with the Raiders not biting more than they can chew.
If the Raiders keep this up, they could feature one if not two ProBowlers on offense (Darren McFadden and Zach Miller) for the first time since 2002.
The offensive line is still a riddle wrapped in an enigma. It's bad. But there is potential with Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell and even Mario Henderson. The Raiders will likely need to sign a center in free agency.
The front seven is coming along, but still has costly gaffes. The group is still relatively young though, so I feel confidently that the Raiders still have room to improve.
My biggest issue with the defense is the insistence on starting Trevor Scott as an end, when the Raiders need to be more physical on the ends with Lamarr Houston and Matt Shaughnessy.
Scott is more of a utility rusher that could rush as a linebacker or D-end, while Houston and Shaughnessy are the better options as every-down players.
I should also note that I wrote an article on why the Raiders should sign safety Bernard Pollard after the Chiefs cut him. I was trashed by fans for writing that.
Yet, Pollard has made a significant difference in run defense for the Texans. The Texans had only allowed about 54 yards per game before yesterday, in which the Raiders had over 100 yards collectively.
That is a stingy run defense, no question. Perhaps, Pollard is the type of player that safety Mike Mitchell or Stevie Brown will be, but only time will tell.
Now I must go. Gotta watch Wapner. Yeah.