Rock bottom. Guys, I think we may have hit it.
This game might have made me angrier at times, even more than the four games previous where the score has been astronomical on the opponents side. The Raiders were able to hang around, kept the game relatively close, but couldn’t finish. I know a lot of Raiders fans would want to see this team earn a lead and hold on to it for once instead of playing from behind, even just for one week!
At least one positive for Raider Nation is that this Oakland franchise showed a bit more heart than they had in the four games previous. The defense was solid (compared to their performance the last few weeks leading up to this game) all game long and the O-line/overall offense played with a bit of dignity. Yes, it was close in the end, but the reality is that they lost to a team with the same record coming in. The worst part is that a potential game-winning drive was ended by, yet again, another swift kick to the loins called a Carson Palmer INT with love. The only thing that was the least bit exciting besides the “comeback that was” was Jano’s 61-yard FG attempt in the second quarter that had enough leg, but hung a right. It was probably the Raiders’ best chance at a final win on the 2012 season, too.
The Singular Silver Lining
- Not a whole lot improved in Week 13, but the two players that stood out the most against Cleveland were DE Lamarr Houston (who I believe has earned his place on this team) and rookie RB out of Stanford, Jeremy Stewart, who had a bit of an opportunity to show off his wheels on Sunday.
- Houston was heavily after the Browns QB Brandon Weeden and even had a few batted balls on some crucial downs in the second half. He is proving game-by-game why he earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week once already this season.
- Stewart, on the other hand, doesn’t just look like a flash in the pan. With his bursts of speed here and there so far, there seems to be some promise there if the Raiders can just get him the reps. If RBs Darren McFadden nor Mike Goodson return this Thursday night, look to see Stewart get some more action. Learning from a workhorse such as FB Marcel Reece will certainly benefit this kid as well.
Where Do The Raiders Go From Here?
Sadly, at 3-9 with the final four games against Denver, Kansas City, Carolina and San Diego coming up, Raiders fans have been chattering more about the 2013 draft class more than they’ve been talking football. The frustration within the fan base is paramount at this point and the questions are never-ending. Which positions need the most help? If the Raiders have a top five pick, will they trade down to acquire more? Are HC Dennis Allen and his coaching squad sticking around in the offseason and beyond? All are valid questions, but at this point (still being early), nothing is certain.
In my opinion, first-year GM Reggie McKenzie has no other option but to trade down to acquire more picks in this draft – I would be shocked if he didn’t, at least. The Raiders have far too many gaps to fill, and shortly after this regular season that gap will expand. Fans should watch these last four games with the mindset that they are “tryouts”; McZ is evaluating the talent that can be preserved and just who doesn’t deserve to stick around in 2013.
A rumour that I’ve even heard swirling about (and that I believe needs to be put to bed) has been that ex-head coach and now Monday Night Football commentary, Jon Gruden, is going to jump back into the mix. I am almost certain this won’t happen; it has been Gruden’s dream to make it onto Monday Night Football, and he’s only had a mere taste of his new-found love of broadcasting. Since Gruden and the Silver & Black godfather, John Madden, have a great relationship (Madden being one of Gruden’s most respected mentors in the business), it easy to see how fans could grasp at these rumours. A lot of fans, myself included, have only the good ol’ days of 2002 left to hold onto during tough times such as these – Raider Nation has had a taste and now ten years later, want the whole pie and want it now.
If I may, it’s too early for me to talk draft just yet. I usually save such a topic until after the final whistle in Week 17 at the very earliest. As I live week-by-week in the regular season, I am simply hoping to not be blown out by the Denver Broncos in primetime tomorrow night. I have come to terms that losing is imminent (and expected), but is making it a game too much to ask? It’s the holiday season, after all.
Wishing the Silver & Black better luck tomorrow night on Thursday Night Football!