Raider Nation may not like me very much, but you have to respect Raider fans. They’re quite possibly the most passionate, diehard fans in the NFL.
Their blind passion is enviable. While most fanbases are skeptical, they're forever optimistic. They believe in their team, no matter what any of us "experts" say.
And they always stick with their team no matter what—through the good and the bad, the thick and the thin.
Unfortunately for Raider Nation, lately, it’s been more thin than thick. Or is “thick” bad and “thin” good? In any event, it's been more bad than good recently.
Since their Super Bowl run in 2002, the Raiders have been on a free-fall of epic proportions. One that saw them bottom out two years ago when Raider Nation was forced to witness the return of Art Shell, even though he was legally declared dead seven years ago.
He was the first legally dead person to coach an entire season in the NFL since Rod Rust.
Replacing him with Lane Kiffin was a stroke of genius. Allowing the front office’s relationship with Lane Kiffin to deteriorate to the point it did during this offseason was a stroke of stupidity.
Luckily for Raider Nation, despite the friction, Kiffin returns in 2008 for his second season as Raider head coach.
Thankfully for Kiffin, Jerry Porter, Dominic Rhodes, and Warren Sapp won’t be returning with him.
I’ll give Al Davis one thing: He’s not afraid to spend money. The question is whether or not he spent it wisely.
I'll start with the good. Gibril Wilson was a fantastic signing, even if they're paying him slightly more than he's probably worth.
Now, for the not so good.
Drew Carter is a pretty good second receiver, but he comes with injury concerns.
Javon Walker, at best, is a head case, at worst is an injured head case. Apparently, Al Davis already had to talk him out of retirement once this preseason. Not exactly a great sign.
DeAngelo Hall is a shutdown corner for nine out of every 10 snaps. The problem with him is what happens on that 10th snap, which usually results in a wide receiver celebrating a touchdown catch.
Kalimba Edwards, Kwame Harris, and William Joseph...all perennial underachievers.
I was surprised to learn that former Patriot great Greg Spires was still in the NFL.
I’m completely confused...no, not the right word. I’m utterly befuddled (better) by the Tommy Kelly contract.
Decent potential, never really done anything of note, recovering from an injury, and is now one of the highest-paid players at his position?
At this point, I actually feel bad for Al Davis. I honestly believe he thinks he had a great offseason (a notion that is shared by much of Raider Nation, by the way).
Darren McFadden aside, I’m not so sure he did. Every guy he brought in is overpaid, recovering from injury, or old.
They might be as good as Kansas City.
They have a second-year quarterback who has a tremendous arm but is extremely inexperienced. Their running game should be pretty good; McFadden is going to be a tremendous running back.
But he won’t be enough to make this team respectable on offense.
On the defensive side, the secondary is going to be fantastic. Nnamdi Asomugha is an absolute beast, and Hall should be better than he was in Atlanta because Asomugha will draw the opposition's No. 1 receiver.
I question whether they’ll be able to put enough pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, as Derrick Burgess seems to be regressing, their linebackers are nothing to write home about, and Jay Richardson couldn’t beat me off the edge.
They will have trouble against the run.
Gibril Wilson will help, but it starts with the front seven. And the front seven is, to be nice, average against the run.
All in all, this season is looking like more of the same for Raider Nation.
Sadly, things probably aren’t going to change until Al Davis puts someone else in charge of building the roster.
Hopefully, Kiffin, whom I believe will be a fantastic head coach for the Raiders, if allowed, will still be around when that finally happens.
All the McFadden talk has everyone forgetting that Fargas turned into a pretty good running back last season.
Fighting for draft picks, fighting for the playoffs, or contending for the Super Bowl?
Unfortunately, Al Davis is forever fighting for draft picks.
Pretty much the same as last season, except they’ll win a couple more games. Nothing to write home about. They’re good for somewhere between five and seven wins.
It’s sad to see what’s happened to one of the NFL’s best franchises. Here’s to hoping they get this thing fixed next offseason.
Sean Crowe is a Senior Writer and an NFL Community Leader at Bleacher Report. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His archive can be found here. You can find everything he writes, including articles for other publications, here.