How Can the Oakland Raiders Escape Black Hole of Losing?

Scott Kacsmar@CaptainComebackContributor IMay 9, 2013

Oakland Black Hole observe September 11 tribute as the San Diego Chargers defeated the Oakland Raiders by a score of 27 to 0 at McAfee Coliseum, Oakland, California, September 11, 2006. (Photo by Robert B. Stanton/NFLPhotoLibrary)
Robert B. Stanton/Getty Images

This will not be news to the rabid fanbase of the Oakland Raiders: The team has not won in over a decade.

The Raiders are just the ninth team since the 1970 merger to go at least 10 seasons without a winning record and without making the playoffs.

Just fail to compete, baby?

For a team synonymous with black holes, the Raiders have been sucked into a black hole of losing which has produced the darkest era in franchise history.

The good news: They’re only halfway to the NFL record of futility set by the New Orleans Saints (1967-86) when they went 20 years without winning.

The bad news: It’s practically guaranteed the Raiders are going to extend this to at least 11 seasons. Where do you see nine wins on that 2013 schedule with this roster?

Unlike teams who are so close to a Super Bowl or just the playoffs, the Raiders are filled with holes. Literally everything needs to improve for this team.

So rather than pretend the Raiders have a chance to compete for anything in 2013except the first pick on the draft, which we’ll talk about laterlet’s take a look back at how things went so wrong, and what the Raiders can do to return to a winning tradition.

Some day this streak is going to end, but it’s not going to happen in 2013.

Digging the Hole Deeper: A Decade of Bad Decisions

Teams do not go a decade without winning because of one wrong move, especially in the era of free agency. It takes a series of bad decisions. Al Davis is gone, but many of his franchise’s major mistakes are not forgotten.

Oakland was last competitive with a very veteran roster including Rich Gannon, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Rod Woodson, Lincoln Kennedy, Charlie Garner and Bill Romanowski. All of these players were age 30 or older in the 2002 season.

When the Raiders lost Super Bowl XXXVII to Tampa Bay, it was essentially the last hurrah for this roster. There was no pressing need to blow the team up a year later as Gannon was coming off a league MVP season, but the cupboard was clearly bare for long-term success. A rebuild was going to be necessary soon.

Struggling at the start of the 2003 season, the old Raiders lost Gannon to injury before finishing with a 4-12 record. With many of the veterans moving on along with the firing of placeholder coach Bill Callahan, the Raiders had a chance to set up their next era.

But the 2004 draft became the first major blunder to set this team on a losing path.

With the No. 2 pick in the draft, Eli Manning was already off the board, but Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger were still there. Rather than get the replacement to a 39-year-old Gannon, the Raiders fell for the “can’t-miss” trap of offensive tackle Robert Gallery.

Instead of coming away with a franchise quarterback, the Raiders trotted out Kerry Collins that season, which was the first for new coach Norv Turner. The result was a 5-11 finish with a mediocre offense and pathetic defense. Gallery would go on to be the biggest bust at tackle since Tony Mandarich.

In the 2005 draft the Raiders again screwed up. After trading the No. 7 pick to Minnesota to get Randy Moss, Oakland still had the No. 23 pick. With quarterback Aaron Rodgers waiting in the green room and no real long-term commitment to Collins, the Raiders again passed on a franchise quarterback.

Their pick? Speedy cornerback Fabian Washington, who started 28 games for the team and last played in the NFL in 2010. Rodgers went one pick later to Green Bay, and you know how that’s turned out.

Turner was fired after a 4-12 season. He would later go on to lead the rival Chargers, with Rivers at quarterback, to the AFC Championship Game as part of three straight playoff appearances. Collins led the Titans to the best record in the NFL in 2008.

Former Raider Art Shell was hired as the new coach in 2006. He apparently did not notice the game had changed since last being a head coach in 1994, and the Raiders had one of the worst offenses in recent history. They averaged 10.5 points per game and watched Moss give up on the team. He was traded to New England where he caught a record 23 touchdowns to help the Patriots nearly go 19-0 in 2007.

They also passed on another quarterback, taking safety Michael Huff with the No. 7 pick instead of Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler. Huff started 93 games for the team, but never really lived up to his draft stock. He is now in Baltimore. If the trend continues, he will probably find the success there he never had in Oakland.

After that 2-14 season, Shell was fired and the Raiders had the first pick in the 2007 draft. Unfortunately for new coach Lane Kiffin, the top two quarterback prospects were JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn. The 2007 draft is likely the first since 1996 that failed to produce any good quarterbacks.

Rather than take an amazing weapon like Calvin Johnson, who went No. 2 to Detroit, the Raiders did indeed draft Russell. Some say this is the move that set the franchise back to this day thanks in large part to Russell’s contract, which was for $32 million guaranteed. That puts him in the conversation for biggest draft bust ever.

But it’s always been a huge myth that any one move can set a team back five years or longer. Clearly the Raiders had more problems than just Russell, who was only given three years with the team. He only started one game as a rookie, so it was closer to two seasons of playing time. Russell was 7-18 as a starter. He last played in the NFL in 2009.

What the Russell move did do is prevent the Raiders from taking quarterbacks like Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Josh Freeman in the next two drafts.

Yes, Mark Sanchez would have been another option.

Instead the team drafted Darren McFadden with the No. 4 pick in 2008. It’s not that he hasn’t played well, but he has missed 23 games in his career and averages 83.9 yards from scrimmage per game. You expect more from such a high pick.

Much worse than the McFadden pick was signing free-agent wide receiver Javon Walker to a six-year, $55 million contract with $16 million guaranteed. Walker, who had a history of injuries, struggled to stay healthy and caught 15 passes to collect a cool $21 million from the Raiders.

Kiffin was fired during the 2008 season, which led to an infamous press conference by Davis. Kiffin has had shaky results in the college ranks as well, so maybe Davis was right about this one, though still wrong about many other things involving the Raiders at the time.

Tom Cable took over as interim coach before being promoted to the real job. He had to endure an embarrassing first draft in 2009 that saw the Raiders take Darrius Heyward-Bey with the No. 7 pick. Everyone had Michael Crabtree as the top wide receiver in the draft, but instead the Raiders went on physical skills and 40-yard dash times again. Of course Heyward-Bey flopped and is now in Indianapolis.

Oakland’s second-round pick, safety Mike Mitchell, infamously had a seventh-round grade according to NFL Network’s Mike Mayock. A report from Pro Football Talk in 2010 found that Oakland coaches wanted to cut Mitchell, but were overruled by Davis.

This fuels the fire that Cable was much more like Davis’ cable installer rather than a coach allowed to think for himself in the organization.

Oakland missed on another top 10 pick with linebacker Rolando McClain (No. 8) in 2010. His numerous arrests have generated more discussion than his play ever has. The Raiders released him in April. Baltimore signed him soon after, but he may not get a chance there after more off-field issues.

But things actually did perk up in 2010 when Hue Jackson joined the staff as offensive coordinator. The Raiders climbed to No. 6 in points scored while finishing 8-8 to avoid an eighth consecutive season with at least 11 losses.

The team played surprisingly well with Jason Campbell at quarterback. He may be conservative with the ball, but cutting down on turnovers can help a team stay competitive in the game.

Despite the 8-8 record, Cable was not retained and Jackson took over as coach.

Campbell got the Raiders off to a 4-2 start in 2011, including an emotional comeback win in Houston just one day after Davis passed away at the age of 82 on October 8.

Davis was gone, but a collarbone injury to Campbell would lead to another disastrous move. In need of a quarterback, Oakland called up the Bengals for Carson Palmer, who was holding out from the team and enjoying the season from his couch.

Oakland traded its first-round pick in 2012 and a conditional second-round pick in 2013 for Palmer, who finished 2010 with a 4-12 record and 20 interceptions.

Jackson called it “the greatest trade in football.”

Jackson was fired at the end of the season, despite another 8-8 finish. Palmer threw 16 interceptions on just 328 attempts (4.88 percent) and went 4-5 as a starter.

Firing perhaps the most promising coach the team has had since Jon Gruden and giving up a mint for Palmer sound like the type of moves that have sunk this team for so long.

Is Dennis Allen the answer at head coach? He did not have an impressive rookie year, going 4-12 with both the offense and defense ranking in the bottom quarter of the league in points.

Palmer mastered the art of failed completions and garbage-time stats. He was traded to Arizona for a measly sixth-round pick and a conditional pick in 2014.

You can’t even bash the Raiders for being one of the many teams to pass on Russell Wilson in the 2012 draft, because they did not have a pick until No. 95; a good 20 spots after Wilson was taken.

Still, the chances to get a real quarterback were there for the Raiders every year from 2004-06, but they instead blew those picks, which used to cost more against the cap before the new CBA in 2011.

The one time they did go all in on a quarterback, it was the wrong year, the wrong player, and the support system to help him have success was never there anyway.

Other teams have rebuilt in a hurry, but the Raiders continue to miss what’s important in today’s NFL. Maybe they can learn from the past.

How Past Teams Ended the Streak of Losing

As mentioned in the beginning, Oakland is the ninth team since the merger to have at least 10 consecutive seasons where they did not have a winning record and did not make the playoffs.

Here is the list, including the number of seasons during the streak the team suffered double-digit losses and how many times they finished with a .500 record. Note that all of these streaks are for the merger era (1970-present), though if a streak started before 1970 and carried into the merger, it was counted.

Not many of these streaks happened during the free-agency era, which technically started in 1994. Usually a team can find its way to winning sooner than this.

Not making the list was San Francisco, who had an eight-year run of failure the same time Oakland’s started (2003). Obviously they turned it around thanks to coach Jim Harbaugh maximizing the talent they had been collecting over the years.

So what can the Raiders learn from these teams? You need a real quarterback and a coach, or at least a very good (elite?) person in one of those jobs.

The Saints ended 20 years of embarrassment thanks to Jim Mora giving the team a defensive identity with the “Dome Patrol” squad of linebackers. Mora and linebackers Sam Mills, Vaughn Johnson and Pat Swilling all joined the team in 1986. Rickey Jackson was already there in his prime. Bobby Hebert was a good find as an undrafted quarterback. In 1987 the Saints finished 12-3. Mora never won a playoff game, but he turned the Saints into winners.

If you think Oakland’s NFL record of seven consecutive seasons with at least 11 losses is atrocious, look at what Tampa Bay did. The Buccaneers lost at least 10 games in 12 straight seasons (1983-94). It would have been 14 straight if not for the 7-9 finish in 1995.

The Buccaneers had some real quarterback talent in Steve Young and Vinny Testaverde, but they could never develop it. For some reason the Buccaneers did not believe in having an offensive coordinator in this era. The team would not consistently hire one until 1996.

That’s why the turnaround came when Tampa Bay established a defensive identity after Tony Dungy took the head coach job in 1996. A year earlier the Buccaneers had a slam dunk in the draft with Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks in the first round. Adding other talent on the defensive side of the ball led to one of the league’s toughest units, which was the base for a championship run in 2002 when Jon Gruden took over for Dungy.

Cincinnati in the 90s was basically the forerunner to today’s Raiders. The Bengals failed on numerous high draft picks, whether it was quarterbacks like David Klingler and Akili Smith or an injured running back like Ki-Jana Carter.

They actually figured things out by building the offense. Carson Palmer was the No. 1 overall pick for new coach Marvin Lewis in 2003, but Jon Kitna had a very solid year throwing to Chad Johnson. Rudi Johnson supplanted Corey Dillon as the team’s running back. Throw in T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and when Palmer got some experience, this became a very good offense. The Bengals went 11-5 in 2005 with Palmer having an elite season.

Of course it all went downhill from there after Palmer’s injury in the playoffs against Pittsburgh, but for a short time he was leading the turnaround in Cincinnati. When the Raiders tried to follow him, he was damaged goods they overpaid for.

Most of Denver’s struggles came with the creation of the AFL, so we won’t look at them.

Wouldn’t you know Chicago’s streak ended in 1977 when a 23-year-old Walter Payton won his first rushing title (1,852 yards)?

The Cardinals are the only franchise to appear twice on the list, and you should notice the 1998 season is the only thing keeping them from having a 23-year run of not winning.

Of course it comes back to the quarterback. Their first run of ineptitude (1985-97) was finally ended when Jake Plummer shined in the clutch in his sophomore season in 1998. Plummer led seven game-winning drives for a team that finished 9-7 and beat Dallas in the playoffs.

That late-game magic would not sustain over the years, and Plummer really never improved in Arizona. The team hoped they had the next answer with Matt Leinart in 2006, but his rookie year ended up being his ceiling. It wasn’t until Ken Whisenhunt turned to Kurt Warner that the Cardinals had a winning record and reached the Super Bowl in 2008.

Since Warner retired, that search for the next quarterback continues, oddly enough with Palmer again trying to be a stop-gap for a team.

Dick Vermeil helped the Eagles end 11 years of not winning by acquiring quarterback Ron Jaworski and running back Wilbert Montgomery in 1977. A year later the team was 9-7 and in the playoffs. Two years later they were in the Super Bowl.

The only other team to start a bad run this century is Detroit (2001-10). That can be put on general manager Matt Millen’s horrific draft picks: quarterback Joey Harrington, then taking three straight first-round wide receivers in the top 10 (Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams).

Oddly enough it was another receiver, Calvin Johnson at No. 2 in 2007, which started Detroit’s turnaround. The Lions followed the pattern from Jimmy Johnson’s Cowboys and Bill Polian’s Colts. They found their receiver, then they found their coach and No. 1 pick at quarterback, followed by a running back. It’s just that Jahvid Best has not stayed healthy, while Matthew Stafford is not exactly Troy Aikman or Peyton Manning so far.

But in 2011 Stafford looked the part, throwing for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns as the Lions finished 10-6 and made the playoffs. They regressed to 4-12 last year with a ton of close-game losses, but we can at least see the plan Jim Schwartz and company have to compete.

But some of these teams are hard to explain, especially from the AFC East.

Richard Todd was a disappointment for the Jets, throwing 30 interceptions in 1980 (4-12 season). Yet a year later he has a career season with 25 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and an 81.8 passer rating (10-5-1 record). It was running back Freeman McNeil’s rookie season, but he only had 794 yards from scrimmage. Wesley Walker and Jerome Barkum had been there for years. The stars of the defense (Joe Klecko and Mark Gastineau) were already on the team for a few seasons. Coach Walt Michaels was in his fifth season on the job.

Steve Grogan did little to inspire as a rookie in 1975 for the Patriots, but led them to an 11-3 record in 1976 when he rushed for 12 touchdowns. It was a very strong draft class with cornerback Mike Haynes, safety Tim Fox and center Pete Brock all taken in the first round. Players like Sam Cunningham and John Hannah were already in place, as was coach Chuck Fairbanks, who was 15-27 (.357) in the three previous seasons.

The Colts were brutal after Bert Jones failed to stay healthy and the team kept missing in the draft with fiascos like Art Schlichter (notorious gambler) and of course the snub by John Elway in 1983. But after starting 0-13 in 1986, they won their final three games of the season behind coach Ron Meyer, who led them into the playoffs in 1987 with a 9-6 record. That was the year the Colts acquired Eric Dickerson through trade from the Rams.

Speaking of the Rams, no team on this list had more success, winning a Super Bowl and appearing in another.

After a horrible decade in the 90s, things came together so quickly for Vermeil’s squad in 1999. He thought Trent Green would be his quarterback, but after a preseason injury it was unproven Kurt Warner, who went on to have one of the greatest seasons (and stories) in NFL history.

Overnight the Rams became the best offense in football. Pro Bowl receiver Isaac Bruce was already there, but the team drafted Torry Holt with the No. 6 pick in 1999 while acquiring Marshall Faulk through a trade with the Colts. Orlando Pace, the No. 1 pick in 1997, was hitting his stride at left tackle. Return man and receiver Az-Zahir Hakim was in his second season, while veteran Ricky Proehl was also in his second season with the team.

It was a matter of perfect timing for “The Greatest Show on Turf.”

When you look at the bottom of the list, you basically have the crux of Kurt Warner’s Hall of Fame argument. He was the catalyst to pull two franchises out of the abyss.

The Raiders need to find that kind of player, then find some talent to put around him so he can thrive.

Oakland’s 2013 Housecleaning

You can say general manager Reggie McKenzie (hired in 2012) has tried to clean house in Oakland.

First-round disappointments like Michael Huff, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Rolando McClain are all gone.

Nine-year defensive lineman Tommy Kelly is gone. Richard Seymour, one of the few deals that worked for Oakland, is not coming back. Starting linebacker Philip Wheeler went to Miami, while starting defensive end Matt Shaughnessy went to Arizona.

Tight end Brandon Myers caught 79 passes last year, but he will be catching balls from Eli Manning in New York this season.

Even Shane Lechler, the prolific punter, is gone (now in Houston). Sebastian Janikowski? He still lives, and breathes (slowly).

But what exactly is left in Oakland? Scorched earth?

With some help from Ourlads, here is a look at the potential depth chart of 2013 starters with new Raiders in color:

My lord that is a lot of turnover on defense in one season. The Raiders did pull off a good trade in this year’s draft by moving down to No. 13 to take cornerback D.J. Hayden. He should have little trouble seeing the field right away, though it’s uncertain as to how many other rookies will start for the Raiders.

The offense is lacking in receiving weapons, which is not a good thing when you’re trying to break in an inexperienced quarterback like Matt Flynn, who was acquired via trade from Seattle.

McFadden is pretty good when healthy, the resources are there on the young offensive line, but in terms of the quarterback making plays with his receivers, Oakland looks to be in real trouble this year.

Denarius Moore has been solid the last two years, but if that’s the best Oakland can offer Flynn, then good luck trying to outscore most of the teams on the schedule.

With this potential roster, you can see why the No. 1 pick in 2014 may be in play. But that could be a blessing for this team to find the right quarterback.

Matt Flynn: Late-Blooming Quarterbacks Are Practically Extinct

Is Flynn the right quarterback? History would tell us he’s not.

Didn’t teams learn from Seattle’s Charlie Whitehurst trade that going after the backup quarterback with no experience is a waste of time?

Whitehurst started four games in Seattle, going 1-3 as a starter with a 64.6 passer rating. He ended up right back in San Diego last year where he reassumed the role of “Clipboard Jesus.”

Didn’t teams also learn the backup from the good offensive system is rarely the answer? Andy Reid couldn’t get much out of Kevin Kolb, so why would Arizona? Matt Cassel could only beat up on bad competition in Kansas City (same thing in New England in 2008 for that matter). This was a flashback to the days of Scott Mitchell (from Miami to Detroit) and Elvis Grbac (from San Francisco to Kansas City) in the 1990s.

But teams still want to believe there’s a Matt Schaub waiting out there, but Schaub was a third-round pick at least.

Flynn was a seventh-round pick by the Packers in 2008. He won a national championship at LSU, but was more of a bus-driver quarterback on a loaded SEC team than an impact player.

He has started two games (both against playoff teams), throwing nine touchdowns in the process. That’s a record for a quarterback’s first two starts.

Before you get too excited, keep in mind against the 2010 Patriots, Flynn threw an ugly interception returned for a touchdown, then failed on the game-winning drive attempt late. When playing the 2011 Lions, he threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns. A week later in the playoffs Drew Brees pasted the Lions for 466 yards and 45 points.

Detroit ended 2011 in a funk, playing in the biggest passing shootouts in regular-season and postseason history. That's not the best measuring stick.

Numbers aside, in Green Bay, Flynn was able to take advantage of the Packers’ pass-happy system with the deepest receiving corps in football. Joe Philbin could have had Flynn in Miami, but passed. Maybe he just preferred Ryan Tannehill, or maybe he knows Flynn is not starter material.

Seattle made the trade a year ago, but still drafted Russell Wilson in the third round. Flynn was unable to beat out Tarvaris Jackson, let alone Wilson to become Seattle’s starter.

Just maybe this guy isn’t cut to be a starter. History sure says a late-blooming quarterback is rare. This study could use some updating and refining, but almost any quarterback worth his salt proves it by his fourth season or earlier. It does not matter how much playing time he had. The cream rises to the top quickly at this position. Most late-blooming examples happened decades ago.

In five years Flynn has thrown 141 passes. Since the 1970 merger, you can find about 260 quarterbacks that have thrown between 1-200 passes in their first five seasons.

Want to know the best of the bunch?

There’s Greg Cook, who was incredible as a rookie for the 1969 Bengals, but a shoulder injury destroyed his career. He threw just three passes after it to retire with 200 attempts, so he’s really not applicable here.

That means the cream of the crop is Jeff Hostetler. A third-round pick by the Giants in 1984, he had just 29 pass attempts in his first five seasons as Phil Simms’ backup. Once wanting to quit the team, Hostetler became the starter late in 1990 after Simms was hurt. He responded by leading the Giants all the way to a thrilling Super Bowl win, which helped him put together a decent career with 83 regular-season starts.

Steve Bono is next in line. He was a sixth-round pick by the Vikings in 1985, but didn’t start until the 1987 replacement games when the Steelers used him. While most replacement players were gone afterwards, Bono stuck around, eventually starting on the 1991 49ers (went 5-1) when Steve Young was out. He led the Chiefs to the league’s best record (13-3) in the 1995 season, even making the Pro Bowl.

Then there’s Tommy Maddox, who sold insurance, then won a championship in the XFL before having that one magical year for the Steelers in 2002. He was a first-round bust for the Broncos back in 1992.

That’s as good as it gets. After that, you move on to guys that were a “couple-game wonder.”

Frank Reich was 6-4 as a starter for Buffalo when Jim Kelly was out, but that includes a 2-0 playoff record. Reich famously led the biggest comeback in NFL history from a 32-point deficit against the Oilers to help keep Buffalo’s Super Bowl streak alive.

Pat Ryan was a backup for the Jets for a long time. He went 11-8 as a starter, even throwing three touchdown passes in a playoff win against the 1986 Chiefs. But he was never picked to be “the guy” in New York.

T.J. Yates did a respectable job as a fifth-round rookie for the Texans in 2011 as the third-string quarterback. He even won a playoff game. Now we wait to see if he’s the successor to Schaub, or just a guy that was in the right place at the right time.

Kirk Cousins, after one season (48 passes) as Robert Griffin III’s backup, is already one of the best players on the list. However, if he’s as good as some think he is, he will exclude himself from the list by surpassing 200 pass attempts in the next four seasons. He’ll either do it starting in place of the often-injured Griffin, or for the team who trades for him if he’s legit.

Maybe when the time comes that team will be the Raiders, though isn’t this where we are with the Flynn trade? Oakland already has someone technically on the list in Terrelle Pryor, though he may be deemed too much of a project to take the job.

Oakland did draft Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson in the fourth round. He could be a steal if developed properly, but without any weapons, does anyone trust the Raiders to develop him?

Episode 2014: A New Hope?

Unless Flynn is that hidden gem the Raiders think he is, this is going to be another difficult season for the team.

The Raiders are the worst team in the AFC West, which is not even a strong division. A team like Kansas City just had its worst season in franchise history, yet already has added a proven head coach in Andy Reid, a quarterback that has been playing well in Alex Smith, No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher at right tackle, and the starting roster is actually much more impressive than that of Oakland’s.

Maybe the Chiefs aren’t ready for the playoffs in 2013, but you can see the ingredients coming together quickly for a turnaround. There is hope there.

It really does not take that long anymore to become competitive.

Just look at how the Colts went from 2-14 to 11-5 by rebuilding the roster, highlighted by a great 2012 draft. They lucked out with Andrew Luck being there with the first pick, and now the Colts are expected to be an annual playoff team again.

For Oakland to turn things around, it is going to have to be done in a way that is proven to work: find the right head coach, find a good quarterback and add talent around them largely through the draft.

Those years of passing on franchise quarterbacks for athletic wonders that turned out to be cap-killing busts ruined the Raiders. Hiring coaches that could never step out of Al Davis’ shadow neutered the team.

Sure, sometimes you get unlucky and hold the top pick in a year like 2007. But if the Raiders are holding the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is the real deal, they cannot be scared of the past and not take him.

Today’s quarterback market is all about the first-round picks. Oakland is just one of five teams to not have a quarterback on the 2013 roster that was drafted with a top 40 pick.

The Raiders have a history of turning reclamation projects into their best quarterbacks, from Daryle Lamonica to Jim Plunkett to Rich Gannon.

But those were the old days. Those were the Al Davis days.

Now it’s time for the Oakland brain trust to develop a modern program of what wins in the NFL. It’s not a game of throwing deep and playing bump-and-run coverage. It’s not about having the greatest athletes from a physical standpoint.

It’s a thinking man’s game where the coaching staff has to adjust, adapt and create new concepts. It’s about high-percentage gains on short passes more than risky bombs. You draft on production and not just potential; on fit rather than just need.

Until the Raiders find those special talents to fill in at coach and/or quarterback, they will never do better than mediocre.

This is not a plea to tank the season, but with the roster scraps they have assembled, finishing with the worst record should be realistic.

This is not a request to forget what Davis did for the franchise over the course of his life, but clearly in his elder years he was holding the Raiders back.

This is just the truth about why the Raiders have not been winning, and the steps necessary to ensure they do not continue down that path.

Oakland can keep “Commitment to Excellence” as the mission statement, but the plan of execution has to change. Ten years of not getting it right is long enough.

Scott Kacsmar writes for Cold, Hard Football Facts, NBC Sports, Colts Authority, and contributes data to Pro-Football-Reference.com and NFL Network. You can visit his blog for a complete writing archive, and can follow him on Twitter at @CaptainComeback.