Hope springs eternal

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 25: The Raider Nation in the famous black hole cheer on their Oakland Raiders as the Oakland Raiders host the Detroit Lions at McAfee Stadium on August 25, 2006 in Oakland, California. (Photo by David Paul Morris /Getty Images)

Hope is defined as the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. When somebody is hopeful, they look at things in a positive way, at times ignoring the things that could potentially go wrong in a given situation at a given place during that given time. Hope can turn into optimism, wishful thinking, or one could become undaunted in the nostalgia of the hope. Trouble is that hope turns into expectations—and it seems as though every year, year after year, the Raiders fans’ hopes go under the rug when the team tanks in the first eight games. Then after things don’t turn out exactly as planned, they become bitter…unsatisfied, and sometimes even physically ill. There may be finger pointing, name calling, and cries for change.

But this year they may not realize that things are not all that bad. Some may not realize that things really are better than they were before, although perhaps not hearts and flowers. They may lose sight of the small things and begin to focus solely on the negative aspects like:

  • Tom Cable is not head coaching material
  • This offensive line is the reason for all our struggles
  • John Marshall is not aggressive enough
  • Rolando McClain and Lamarr Houston can’t stop the run
  • The new front seven is just as bad as the old front seven
  • Michael Huff can’t tackle (this one might be true)
  • The point is this-we could go on and on all day talking about what’s wrong with a team that is one-for-four in winning games this year, or we could focus on the fact that they’ve lost their last two games by a total of eight points.

Just let me know when you’ve made your decision. Talk about quick to jump ship. Is JaMarcus Russell in the house? When was the last time the Raiders lost consecutive games by only eight points or less? And they lost these two games (one of which they should’ve won) to a 2009 playoff team and a team that could very well convincingly win their division this year.

At least some people can see the change. Take our frequent commenter Spartacus for example. He recently posted this comment, and I liked it so much that I decided that everyone should read it:

“Hopefully we will see more attendance in the coliseum for the Chargers game. It was really weird seeing the stadium as empty as it was. If the fans fail to show up like they did against Houston, then we are basically throwing home field advantage away. I understand the frustrations of Raider Nation, and I truly share the same disappointment concerning Al Davis and all his continued blunders, especially his drafting blunders in the first round of our recent drafts (Brian Bulaga or Mike Iupati would certainly look good in a Raider uniform right now). I agonize over the horrendous coaching of Tom Cable and the pathetic offensive line that our so called “guru” of a coach cannot fix. However, throughout all of this, I still hold on to the belief that the Raiders can still contend for the Division if they beat the Chargers this Sunday. It will be a tough task, but we really need the fan support to boost the Raider morale, and if we can somehow get a victory over San Diego, then we will DEFINITELY be a team that can hold on to its playoff dreams and possibly win the division.”

I think all Raiders fans can relate to this statement on some level. For me the part that really hits home is the drafting blunders. The aforementioned Russell is the prime candidate for that debate. And then you see at the end, the guy still holding out HOPE for a playoff spot if they can just beat the Chargers. If they win this one game on Sunday-it could all turn around.

Yet, Sunday’s game will be the tenth consecutive blackout in Oakland which is symbolic of two things:

  • 1. Raiders fans have lost hope
  • 2. Home field advantage for the Raiders has become more disheartening than an advantage

Unfortunately for the young Raiders, the only way to fix the problem is to start winning. And the general agreement for the recipe to success for winning is that it all starts up front. Now, here is where I differ from the trendy conviction. Most think the offensive line is the problem, I beg to differ and here’s why.

My belief is that the defense is failing right now. Somewhere near the beginning of this year, Tom Cable developed his 24-points theory. The statement was simple, something to this effect, “If we score 24 points, we’ll be tough to beat.” Now, at the time, I believed him. But after consecutive games of 23 & 24 points scored respectively, I now doubt the validity of that statement. That’s obviously not an offensive problem because they are achieving their goal. This problem is with the defense and John Marshall hit the nail on the head when he said the most important stat for defense is points allowed. So congrats, John Marshall, you just graded your defense as an F.

My hopes coming into this season were simply two—score more than 17 touchdowns in sixteen games and win at least seven to avoid double digit losses again. Growing tired of being let down, I decided I’d keep it simple this year to avoid feeling like some of you feel right now. I’m not bragging, I’m just saying is all.

Thus far, they are on pace for 28 touchdowns, however, if you go based only on the two games that Bruce Gradkowski has started, they are on pace to score 37 touchdowns. But they are only on pace for four victories, so boo to that. I think that’s misleading though.

So what is this whole thing about? Nothing really, I’m just writing, kind of like you’re just reading. But I hope that what you’re reading makes sense in some weird off the mark change it up kind of way. Really, it’s a game they play on Sunday’s right? You know that if the ball was in your court that you could do a better job than those in charge now.

Just for $h*t$ and giggles, and to finish this one off on the left foot, let’s take a look at the first four games of 2009 and compare to the first four of 2010. This format follows final score, attendance, and top performers in respective catagories. Feel free to click on the “final” link for more info.

2009:

1

Sep 14

SD 24 @ OAK 20

Final

61,940

Philip Rivers
252Yds (SD)

Darren McFadden
68Yds (OAK)

Zach Miller
96Yds (OAK)

2

Sep 20

OAK 13 @ KC 10

Final

69,169

Matt Cassel
241Yds (KC)

Larry Johnson
78Yds (KC)

Bobby Wade
72Yds (KC)

3

Sep 27

DEN 23 @ OAK 3

Final

45,602

Kyle Orton
157Yds (DEN)

Correll Buckhalter
108Yds (DEN)

Brandon Marshall
67Yds (DEN)

4

Oct 04

OAK 6 @ HOU 29

Final

70,291

Matt Schaub
224Yds (HOU)

Steve Slaton
65Yds (HOU)

Andre Johnson
66Yds (HOU)

 

2010:

1

Sep 12

OAK 13 @ TEN 38

Final

69,143

Jason Campbell
180Yds (OAK)

Chris Johnson
142Yds (TEN)

Nate Washington
88Yds (TEN)

2

Sep 19

STL 14 @ OAK 16

Final

48,396

Sam Bradford
167Yds (STL)

Darren McFadden
145Yds (OAK)

Louis Murphy
91Yds (OAK)

3

Sep 26

OAK 23 @ ARI 24

Final

62,439

Bruce Gradkowski
255Yds (OAK)

Darren McFadden
105Yds (OAK)

Louis Murphy
119Yds (OAK)

4

Oct 03

HOU 31 @ OAK 24

Final

32,218

Bruce Gradkowski
278Yds (OAK)

Arian Foster
131Yds (HOU)

Zach Miller
122Yds (OAK)

Man, it sure does seem like there are more Raiders on that second list. What’s up with that? Dude, I really hope the Raiders open a can of whoopass Sunday.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, there will be no “First Impressions” this week because we should all know what the Chargers are all about.

Follow me on Twitter: Raidersblogger

Follow TFDS on Facebook

Email me your Raiders Questions: Bret@tfdssports.com

Quantcast