2011 A Wild Ride For Raider Nation

Al's last gamble in hiring Hue Jackson has proved a success.

Time flies when you’re watching winning football. These last 12 months have been a blur for Raider Nation. When you reflect back on all of it you can’t help but be amazed that the Silver and Black are playing for a playoff berth on the last game of the season.

But what better way to begin 2012 than with drama? We’ve had plenty of it in the last year.

Hard to believe that at one point in time I thought Al Davis made the wrong move to promote Hue Jackson and allow Tom Cable to walk. 8 home sellouts, an exciting offense and one potential playoff birth later Coach Jackson’s hiring was the safest bet Mr. Davis made in recent years.

That controversial move would also be one of the last Mr. Davis made.

No matter how this season ends it will forever be remembered as the official beginning of the AAD era – After Al Davis. As crazy as it might sound I was convinced Mr. Davis would outlive the NFL itself. Of course, thanks to all that his genius mind brought to the game the spirit of Davis will live on for years to come.

We owe much to Mr. Davis. Still the best tribute possible was paid by the Raiders as they won in Houston on an emotional Sunday. Michael Huff’s interception is a moment that will be forever frozen in Raider lore.

But before we could even get to that dramatic Sunday the entire football world had to collectively weather the lockout storm. Once those clouds broke the madness began and initially it looked as if the Raiders were the craziest of all teams.

Many mocked Al Davis when he gave Stanford Routt, Kamerion Wimbley and Richard Seymour hefty raises while allowing Nnamdi Asomugha, Zach Miller and Robert Gallery to walk.

As usual Mr. Davis had the last laugh on that.

Asomugha has endured a bitterly disappointing season in Philadelphia that saw the supposed dream team become a traveling nightmare. Gallery, as usual, hasn’t been able to stay healthy while Miller has done next to nothing in Seattle.

One of the bright spots that emerged from the lockout was the leadership qualities of Jason Campbell. JC helped organize player workouts and even put up a few of his receivers at his home to develop chemistry.

As we know the game of football can be cruel as evident by Campbell’s season. Just as he was playing some of the best ball of his life, Campbell’s season came to an end no thanks to injury. Still, it is not coincidence that Darrius Heyward-Bey is having his breakout year after getting extended time with a true professional like Campbell.

But as we also know the injury to Campbell provided for the biggest move to date of the AAD era.

Hue Jackson didn’t hesitate to step in and help with some of the responsibilities Mr. Davis oversaw for the Raiders. Coach Jackson’s first order of business was to not allow his team’s playoff hopes to be thrown to the wolves by the arm of Kyle Boller.

Enter Carson Palmer.

When it came to drama there weren’t very many players that had as much press as Palmer this year. His season began with a voluntarily pay cut as he chose to pass on collecting $12-million. Seems Palmer had finally had enough of the Cincinnati Bengals. As a testament to how much Coach Jackson has done for the franchise Palmer was excited at the prospects of being a Raider.

Two very high draft picks later and Palmer was off the couch and into a Silver and Black uniform.

Now the jury is still out on Carson but his value is undeniable. Without Palmer there is no way the Raiders are playing for a chance at being in postseason. I mean, did you see Boller’s only start this year?

Now if there is one thing that has been disappointing this year it is the fact that we have yet to see Darren McFadden line up behind Carson Palmer.

If there is one New Year’s resolution out there for the Raiders it would be for McFadden to remain healthy in 2012. With Run DMC there is no denying that the Raiders are among the NFL elite from an offensive standpoint.

All in all 2011 was a solid 12 months for Raider Nation. There were plenty of highs and a fair share of lows. In the end the pride and passion of Raider football has been restored. Now, in 2012, let’s start to expect more. Coach Jackson stated his goal from the start and Raider Nation is eager to cheer that on.

For now let’s just focus on starting the New Year in Raider style.

Just win, baby!

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Tags: Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation, Fans, Popular, Featured Carson Palmer Darren McFadden Darrius Heyward-Bey Hue Jackson Jason Campbell Kamerion Wimbley Kyle Boller Nnamdi Asomugha Richard Seymour Robert Gallery Stanford Routt Tom Cable Zach Miller

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