By Justin Cherot
Caution: the journalistic gloves are coming off and the hands of a fan are about to be exposed.
Some fan I am… I fell asleep with my beloved Oakland Raiders actually tied with the San Diego Chargers at halftime. By the time I reminded myself to wake-up– because who KNOWS when they’ll even be locked in a tight game– I was in the middle of the 3 AM edition of SportsCenter, hearing something about Roger Federer losing. After muttering multiple four letter words, I glued my eyes to the Bottomline. And, unfortunately as I’ve come to expect over the past few years, I learned the inevitable outcome: another game, another Raiders loss.
But, you know what? Just the fact that I even had to check the Bottomline to figure out if they’d won or lost was a welcome change.
Before, I just knew.
Now? Granted, they’re probably going to be under .500. You can book that. But, last night (from what I saw, at least) the Raiders showed signs of emerging from what has been a winning recession these past several years.
They out-gained the Chargers. They won time of possession. Richard Seymour looked great. The line created quite a push up front for both Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, both of whom looked great when they found space (whatever that means). Louis Murphy looks like a hidden gem. If Zach Miller keeps playing like he played last night, his projected numbers would be out of this galaxy. Even JaMarcus Russell showed flashes–albeit brief, Miller Lite ads at the Super Bowl-like flashes–of actually becoming a solid quarterback in this league.
The talent, believe it or not, isn’t that far off. The only problem is that this franchise is simply allergic to winning right now, and once they get out of that “Eh, it’s OK, we were supposed to lose anyway” mindset, they’ll be fine.
Easier said than done though. They haven’t had a winning season since 50 Cent dropped “Get Rich or Die Tryin'”. That’s right, before he launched his singing/”I’m rappin’ to sell records, only I can’t rap and everybody realizes that now so I can’t even sell more records than Jordan Knight” career. 2003 was the last time they were any sort of good.
But, after last night, there’s hope for this fledgling franchise and their frustrated fan base. If nothing else, it looks like this team will compete, which is really all you can ask for a team that’s seen nothing but failure lately.
If nothing else, the answer to the question asked in Colin’s preview will be, “Yes, we do.”