Deep down inside I’m a positive person, honestly. How else can you explain my undying devotion to the Raiders who seemingly are forever stuck in rebuild mode ever since the Chucky Bowl back in ’03? You don’t sit through a decades worth of Sundays, most of which are mired in misery, without finding the silver lining in every dark cloud that forms over the East Bay.
So before I get down to the business at hand of giving the Raiders a backhanded compliment for their gritty yet ugly 26-23 OT victory over Jacksonville let’s first look at the positives.
This is the NFL. Any given Sunday. [Insert additional generic football motto here]. So any win is a good win…unless it’s aided by the incompetence of replacement officials…looking at you Pete Carroll.
Dennis Allen’s team showed plenty of heart and determination in battling back from a 20-6 second half deficit that had this season on the ropes. Make no mistake. If Oakland loses to Jacksonville on Sunday then come Monday the first thing we’re talking about is Matt Barkley replacing Carson Palmer in 2013. Instead we can at least hag our hat on being just one game out of first in the AFC Worst.
Which brings us to the negative portion of this post.
The Raiders need not apologize for the circumstances that have led to their continued stay on life support in the AFC West. It’s not their fault the Broncos were overhyped or that the Chargers still employ Norv Turner. We’ll discuss the Chiefs plenty this week but for now…well…they’re the Chiefs. ‘Nuff said.
The Raiders also don’t need to apologize for Maurice Jones-Drew, Blaine Gabbert and Rashean Mathis going out of the game due to injury yesterday. That’s all part of the game. Oakland need not apologize for beating a weakened Jaguars team now matter how sloppily they did it. Keep in mind the last time these two met the same man that backed MJD yesterday, Rashad Jennings, ran all over Oakland in a crushing defeat back in 2010 racking up roughly 1/7th of his career rushing total in one afternoon. So keeping Jennings in check was nothing to turn your nose up at, Nation.
All that said if the 2012 edition of the Silver and Black are at all serious about cashing in on the potential their weakened division provides then falling behind by two touchdowns at home to a one win team is not going to cut it.
As the loss in Atlanta taught us there are no moral victories in the pro game. Getting a win is a great thing but having to rely on a horrible backup QB to throw the game in Oakland’s lap is a game plan built on failure. The crucial pass interference call against the Jags isn’t something the Raiders can rely on week-in and week-out. Again no apology necessary as that’s just the nature of the beast. But officiating cannot become a crutch.
The penalty problems are resurfacing. For two weeks running the Raiders have taken on subpar run defenses and have not ran the ball with any authority on a consistent basis. The offensive line is regressing by the week and the carless turnovers are only getting more maddening.
For all the heart and determination the Raiders showed yesterday their glaring weaknesses were only more exposed for the football world to see.
Coach Allen mismanaged a few game situations that would have cost the Raiders dearly against a more competent opponent. Greg Knapp’s play calling is more suspect than the knife OJ Simpson is slanging on E-Bay. The special teams is still a mess, not much has changed since the Monday Night debacle except the fact that Jon Condo is healthy now. The secondary still has moments of madness that turn the most pedestrian of passing attacks into an aerial assault.
The good news is that the Raiders get another shot at an NFL bottom feeder this week. But that could also be the bad news. Jacksonville took the bye week to prepare a winning game plan. What will the rival Chiefs do with a week off and plenty of ammunition to go all out against Oakland? No matter the Chiefs approach, the Raiders aren’t going to walk out of Arrowhead with another sloppy W in tow. An ugly win is a win but keep in mind a sloppy loss can easily come from another sloppy effort.