Holla at me RAIDER NATION!
I was going to publish my Report Card on the defense, but this loss to the 49ers still has a hold over me (for a few reasons).
First of all, we're talking about a team (S.F.) that had zero wins.
Second of all, we're talking about the team that is our state rival. Even more than that, we're talking about one of the teams that is the polar opposite of ours. (can you picture US sharing a stadium with these guys!?!?)
You have the wine & cheese eating 49ers beating the beer & crackers Raiders? What's wrong with this picture? How does our team lose this game, the way they did?
To me it comes down to one thing: Lack of Leadership. End of story.
Now when I talk to you about leadership, I'm not talking about The Owner. The Raiders don't have the problems they were having with The Lions. In Detroit, you have an owner who doesn't know, or doesn't care, that he has a football franchise.
When I talk to you about leadership, I'm not talking to you about The Coach. The simple fact is that when it comes to the coach he's never thrown a pic 6 (interception returned for a T.D. - in case you didn't know), The Coach doesn't miss blocks, The Coach doesn't drop passes, and The Coach doesn't play the game! - what he does is..... Coach.
No, Raider Nation. True leadership comes from the men on the battlefield, the ones who actually PLAY THE GAME!!
Now ask yourself a question: Who are the LEADERS on this team?
I didn't ask who are the play-makers on our team, and I didn't ask are there any future Hall of Famers? What I asked was who is the LEADER?
Who is the guy(s) that the others turn to when things are going bad? Who's the guy that keeps everyone on the same page? Who's the guy that is RESPECTED not just for the way he plays, and prepares for the game but, for what he brings to the team?
Think about it for a moment, Raider Nation!
Every successful franchise has at least ONE guy on the roster who falls into this category and is respected by ALL.
That guy who can go to the offense, defense, special teams, and coaching staff to say that WE need to perform better. He leads by example and is someone who understands the game on and off the field. He not only knows his job, but also knows the job of every other player on the team. Moreover, he knows not only OUR plays, but the other teams as well!
The guy who can kick a player into gear (and have him start making plays), or he can lift up a players spirits (after a mistake), so that it doesn't carry over to the rest of the game.
To be honest with yo,u I'm having a hard time thinking of a player on this current roster that fits the mold.
Can you give me a name?
I LOVE Namdi, but I don't picture him in the huddle taking over the conversation. I also can't picture him on the sidelines instructing the offense (not that he's not capable, I just don't see him as this type of player).
Nor do I see Rolando McClain (at this point) taking over the conversation in the huddle. Neither Huff, Branch, or even Seymour for that matter. But, it's not just the defense that has a lack of leadership.
I can't see Z. Miller going to the Defense saying, "You guys need to come up with a stop!" I don't picture any O-linemen saying anything about the play of someone else (do you?).
Nor can I picture Bush, or McFadden, giving a lecture to the defense (or the offense for that matter). Hell, the only person I could see being respected by all (on and off the field) is Shane the punter!! And how many winning teams have their punter as their leader?
Face facts Raider Nation: It's been a few years since our team was a serious playoff contender. Hell, it's been a while since the team had a winning record! I believe that this is a direct result of the lack of leadership the team has been going through.
Moreover, I believe that there has been some confusion. Just because you're a "great" player that doesn't mean that your a leader! Think about it: Randy Moss is a "great" player but he's no leader! The team has no Tim Brown, there's no Gene Upshaw, or a Rod Martin.
We've got (and I almost hesitate to use this term) " play-makers" on both sides of the ball and on special teams. However, (in my view) what the team has been lacking for the last few years is true leadership, and until this changes I expect the trend of "win some lose some" to continue.
Sure, the team is going to get up for a Division rival, (especially one that has beaten you 13 times) but when it comes time to beating a team that you know you should beat sometimes, you need your leader to kick the team into gear (which is what we needed but didn't have in the 49ER game) and remind them that their better then this and "we've got a goal here!"
The coach can only do so much, as well as the owner. Sometimes the players just have to step up and be held accountable. The problem in Oakland is that there is NO ONE to step up and do the counting.
Raider from birth.