Perhaps, Warren Sapp was on to something. The Raiders got some good press after nearly beating the Chargers in week one, and have regressed further towards the abyss in each of the games since. Both the offense and the defense have been less effective in each passing game.
It would seem that coming off the miserable performance in Kansas City that they were able to somehow pull a win out of, the Raiders would refocus their efforts and find a way to take their late game heroics on offense and combine them with the early game defensive strength and play a complete game. Instead, the Raiders came out flat as a blown out tire against the Denver Broncos. The flatness was manifested in the game, but it had its roots in the final practice before the game. In the Friday practice, the Raiders practiced flat, and as the truism goes ‘you practice like you play.’
Defensive end Greg Ellis told the local media, “[Friday’s practice] wasn’t what we need to do and to be if we want to go out there and be a serious contender in this league right now. There’s a lot of [parity} in the league, there’s talent on every team in the league, including this one. But we’re not the golden child where we stand out enough talent wise where we can go out there and kind of BS through practice and think we can win. We have to go out there and concentrate in practice, eliminate the mistakes and get to the football game and do the same thing.”
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It is disconcerting when a team has the legacy of losing over the past several years that the Raiders have endured. It is time for the Raiders to realize that they need to work harder. Cable stressed the fundamentals early in camp, but it does not seem to be paying the desired dividends on the playing field. Ellis essentially said that the young players are not working hard enough without speaking those exact words, “Obviously enough people did not understand that last Friday. Hopefully everybody learned and we can go out there today and leading up to this game and be more concentrating in practice and eliminate mistakes. Early in the week you expect some mistakes because it’s a new, you don’t change the whole scheme but there’s some new things that coaches tell you, ‘For this team we got to do this.’ Today you can kind of expect some mistakes. But when you get down to Friday you expect for it to be real crisp, not so physical practice just crisp and not making those mistakes.”Ellis spent his first eleven seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, so he knows how things work on a team that is in competition for the post-season every year. He is not seeing this same determination with the Raiders, which is quite disconcerting.
Apparently, the issue runs deeper than the seeming lack of leadership. The issue is that the individuals don’t have the discipline to motivate themselves. “I think it has to be more than one guy. You can have that guy who wants to yell, scream and cuss at other teammates but everybody in the NFL we’re grown men so we can choose how you respond to that firecracker guy if you will. The head coach can yell at you, anybody can yell at you but you as an individual have to take it upon yourself to say, ‘OK, I’m going to receive this stuff and I’m going to use it as a positive.'”
If the Raiders are ever going to get off the schnide, they need to find that motivation within themselves. The veteran leaders who have tasted success like Greg Ellis and Richard Seymour need to lead by example, and the other guys need to see that is the route to success, not continuing with what has not worked.