Raiders’ Pro Bowl presence signifies that talent isn’t the issue

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 17: Derek Carr No. 4 of the Oakland Raiders signals to his team during their NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 17, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 17: Derek Carr No. 4 of the Oakland Raiders signals to his team during their NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 17, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Raiders have four guys that made it to the Pro Bowl. Six other players are listed as Pro Bowl alternates. Talent is not the issue with the team.

When we look back on the 2017 NFL season for the Oakland Raiders, it won’t be one Raider Nation will think of fondly. After going 12-4 and making the AFC playoff for the first time in 14 years only a season ago, the team nose-dived to a 6-8 record through its first 14 games. The 2017 Raiders can only finish at best at .500 at 8-8. Barring a series of miracles, that won’t be enough to put the Silver and Black back in the playoffs this January.

The downturn for this year’s Raiders team has been one of great conversation, as it has been very difficult to figure out what is ailing this team. Perhaps this team was overrated from the start and we weren’t ready to admit that? Oakland did win an absurd number of games on the last possession and decided by eight points or less. We should have anticipated a regression to the mean in some capacity, right?

But it’s been more than that. Something is off with this team and we haven’t figured it out, as it is too late. After losing to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football at home in Week 15 by a field goal, the Raiders saw their slim playoff dreams essentially slammed shut.

On Tuesday, a nice consolation prize arrived in the Bay Area for a downtrodden Raiders team. Four of their starters made it to the Pro Bowl. Defensive end Khalil Mack and left tackle Donald Penn earned their third Pro Bowl nods, while center Rodney Hudson and left guard Kelechi Osemele earned their second trips to Orlando.

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All four were certainly deserving. Mack was a lock, and Hudson wasn’t that far off. Osemele hasn’t been as good as last year, but will start at left guard for the AFC. Penn remained a technician out at left tackle, but he won’t make the trip to Orlando this January. He’ll be out for the rest of the season, as he’ll undergo foot surgery this week.

Four Pro Bowlers on a six-win team seems a bit decadent. Then again, didn’t the Kansas City Chiefs send six guys to the Pro Bowl after going 2-14 in 2012? In all likelihood, Oakland will have even greater representation in Orlando, as they have count it six Pro Bowl alternates. Those guys are inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman, quarterback Derek Carr, right guard Gabe Jackson, punter Marquette King, running back Marshawn Lynch and return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson.

Oakland won’t have 10 players in Orlando, but you’re catching the drift here, right? This team is chock full of football talent, yet why is this team so bad? It’s the multi-faceted conundrum Raider Nation just can’t figure out exactly.

Has the coaching been poor this season? Absolutely, it’s been more bad than good with head coach Jack Del Rio. Parting ways with Bill Musgrave in favor of promoting Todd Downing from within has not been up to par. Not going with John Pagano as defensive coordinator from the jump was a waste of everyone’s time, especially Ken Norton Jr. Yes, the bulk of the blame falls on coaching and lack of preparation, but what about execution?

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That, too. When Oakland gets beat, the Raiders get beat badly. Four of their eight losses have been awful blowouts where Oakland lost before the game even begin. There’s like a certain cockiness that has engulfed this Raiders locker room. The level of entitlement with this bunch is almost flattering.

Next, we’ll have to look at the front office. Not the best draft of the Reggie McKenzie era to say the least. The top two picks in cornerback Gareon Conley and safety Obi Melifonwu spending more time hurt than playing this year. Of all the players McKenzie drafted, is seventh-round defensive tackle Treyvon Hester the most productive player? We do know that the best rookie has been inside linebacker Nicholas Morrow. And he was an undrafted player out of Division III Greenville College!

So it’s a combination of like four things for the Raiders: poor coaching, some overconfident players that didn’t put in the work in the offseason, a bad draft class and maybe above all, the luck from last year didn’t go the Silver and Black’s way.

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If the Pro Bowl announcement revealed anything to us on Tuesday, it is that the Raiders might be the most talented team in football that is getting the least out of its talent. 10 potential Pro Bowl players on a club that will have at best eight wins is all you need to know. Something has to give this offseason.