With the year coming to a close, we take a look back at the highs and the lows of the 2019 Oakland Raiders Season.
In college, my defensive coordinator used to say: "We're riding the roller coaster at Knott's Berry Farm," to describe the fluctuation of our play. While watching the 2019 Oakland Raiders season, let's just say I heard his voice in my head quite a few times.
A record with almost as many wins as losses couldn't be more symbolic of the entire year for the Raiders. Obviously, the results of the games were up and down but the roller coaster really started in March.
The Antonio Brown saga was certainly eventful. When it became public knowledge that the former All-Pro was on the trading block, Raider fans began to consider what he would look like in Silver and Black, and so did Jon Gruden. Then it looked like all was lost when rumors swirled that Buffalo and Pittsburgh reached an agreement but, in typical AB fashion, he complicated matters by saying he won't show up.
Hope was resurrected for Chucky and the Nation and of course, third and fifth-round picks made their dreams come true. Jerseys were flying off the shelves and everyone was excited to see what Brown could do. Optimism flowed throughout the building and then, training camp came along.
A pair of frozen feet and a helmet dispute dominated the headlines while the wideout spent more time thawing out and fighting with the league than he did on the practice field. But eventually, the dust was settled and everyone could move on with the season, or so we thought. After a couple of fines and a salty exchange, Oakland decided to slam the door Schutt on the eventful saga.
Finally, it was time for meaningful games and the Raiders were able to persevere in spite of the distractions. The team dominated the Broncos and it looked like they didn't need diva wide receiver. However, the next couple of contests were a different story.
Oakland lost to Kansas City and Minnesota by a total of 38 points and had just started a five-game road trip. At one and two, the year could have spiraled out of control but the team managed to bounce back.
As underdogs, the Raiders got the job done in Indianapolis and then traveled to London to meet a familiar friend. The Silver and Black shocked the NFL world and got their revenge against Khalil Mack. With big wins against quality opponents, the playoff chatter began.
Green Bay and Houston were next on the schedule and both were Super Bowl contenders. It felt as if a victory in either matchup would firmly establish Oakland as a legitimate postseason contender. The combination of a perfect quarterback rating from Aaron Rodgers and an unbelievable performance from Deshaun Watson caused the Raiders to fumble the opportunity away at the goal line.
Finally, the team returned home and the optimism began to resurface. Wins against the Lions, Chargers, and Bengals led to conversations about a Wild Card spot. At six and four with the easiest remaining schedule, it appeared as if the roller coast was in the middle of its ascent.
However, to the surprise of many, the team reached the peak of the ride.
With every peak comes a very steep fall, and the decent came in the form of some inclement weather. With the temperature dipping below 50 degrees, the Raiders were outscored by 31 points against the Jets. The Silver and Black continued to free fall with another 31-point loss to the Chiefs leaving any hopes at an AFC West championship out in the cold.
While the division was out of the question, the playoffs weren't and the last two games in Oakland were supposed to be the spark that ignites the team's resurgence. Unfortunately, sluggish second halves where the Raiders were outscored a combined 38 to 0 spoiled the end of the Coliseum era. The hopes of playing in January appeared to be gone but this ride had one more twist.
Completing the sweep of Los Angeles and a handful of other improbable outcomes revived the organization's postseason chances...again. It wasn't a high probability but the team had something to play for in Week 17. With another disappointing performance in Denver, the season was officially over and the lap bar holding everyone in the roller coaster car finally released.
A 6-4 start followed by a 1-5 finish is certainly infuriating, however, Oakland exceeded expectations and has nothing to be ashamed about. A seven-win season means the team was able to nearly double its win total from the previous year, which is a feat only a handful of teams can claim.
The combination of an outstanding rookie class and six picks in the first four rounds of the upcoming draft gives Raider Nation reasons to be excited for 2020. Hopefully, the team avoids the Manhattan Express as they transition to Las Vegas.