Being a Raiders fans for the past 16 years has been a tortured existence when it comes to on the field performance and results. Ever faithful, Raider Nation has remained staunchly behind their team. Are they willing to wait a few years for Gruden to remodel their beloved franchise?
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria! – Dr. Peter Venkman (as played by Bill Murray) Ghostbusters
Ok Raider Nation, take a breath.
Yes, the season is off the rails and yes the playoffs aren’t going to be in the plans this season. Yes, fans are frustrated (still) the team traded away its best player. Yes, there’s not much to be encouraged by on or off the field as the team heads into the bye week.
Despite all that, and the ensuing pain in the interim, all that has happened between the time Jon Gruden was brought back as coach and now is part of a master plan and it has to do more with Las Vegas than Oakland.
To believe this team is being torn down to be built up for their arrival in Las Vegas in 2020, you have to first trust in the leadership from the owner on down to the head coach. Many of you don’t and I can fully understand why. The frustration of 16 years is real and the emotion is raw. To think the Raiders would tear down a roster fans – correctly or incorrectly – felt was close to being a winner is shocking. Yet, that’s exactly what I think they are doing. Do I agree with it? Not sure.
If you take a step back from the current situation and look backward as a way to compare, last year’s Raiders team was roundly criticized and a disappointment to fans and onlookers alike. You don’t fire your coach when you’re happy with the result. So fans, rightfully so, were excited at the return of Gruden and immediately figured since the banished coaching staff of Jack Del Rio won six games in 2017, surely Gruden would easily win nine, 10, or even 11 games. Raiders fans – bless their tortured hearts – were flying high and feeling things would change overnight.
Those of us who look at things a little more realistically thought a great season would be 8 wins and 6-7 was more likely. Clearly, both sides were wrong as now it appears the Raiders may struggle to win 3-4 games before its all over. That aside, this roster was not close to being a division winner nor a consistent playoff team. Should they have been better had Gruden kept on some of the talent they jettisoned? Some think so but that’s an uncertainty.
Let me be clear: there have been many missteps this season and I am not excusing any of them. The coaching staff, player personnel staff, and others all share responsibility for how things have gone. Yet it is a business and sometimes a CEO will go into an organization and realize it has to be torn down to be rebuilt stronger for future success. I’m not asking you to like it, and I am unsure if it will all work. And maybe I am giving them all too much benefit of the doubt. Time will judge that.
For the fans of Oakland, it’s the worst. They were promised a “win-now” pledge when this all started in the offseason. But whatever Gruden saw after he took the reigns now has him ready to tear down the walls to the studs to build it his way.
For the fans of Oakland, it’s the worst. They were promised a “win-now” pledge when this all started in the offseason. But whatever Gruden saw after he took the reigns now has him ready to tear down the walls to the studs to build it his way. Whether it works or not even he says remains to be seen. There is no longer any denying it is being done and those of us who still believe he can effectively run a team, buy into the fact he has some sort of plan. To outsiders, it sometimes can look preposterous but you have a choice to make as a fan or cranky media type: do you believe they will be successful?
Now we hear the Raiders are shopping Karl Joseph, Amari Cooper, and perhaps others. Even though Gruden (sort of) denied this in his postgame press conference, you can bet this team is going to make moves now to help them for 2019. Although I wouldn’t go getting excited about next year either.
There remains uncertainty on whether the Raiders will play in Oakland next year. With its own current city threatening lawsuits, the Raiders may be the hobo franchise of the NFL in 2019. If they stay in Oakland, with the teams’ clear focus on the future and tearing down a roster to stockpile young talent to rebuild yet again, will anyone be there to see them if they stay?
In the nuanced world of mass and social media, rarely are people telling you the truth. We live in the era of “optics” – how things look matter more than their substance. Raiders fans (and some in the media) are being shown a shell game of sorts. If you believe it’s for the right reason, then you’re not too upset and know it’s all about 2020.
For all the right reasons, the organization could not come out when Gruden was hired and say: “Hey folks, we’re going to be terrible until we remake the roster in the image we’d like.” It wouldn’t sell with fans, and it wouldn’t sell with free agents and young players they’re trying to lure.
So it becomes an issue of faith, as I said so many months ago right here. You either believe they’re doing the right thing for the long term, or you don’t.
If you don’t, well, I hear the Chargers are looking for fans.