Go Raiders?

August 14, 2010 at 6:45 am (Uncategorized)

Has it become wrong to be a Raiders fan?  Have they become so taboo that anyone who is a fan of them instantly turns into one of those insane fans with the skulls and the spiked shoulder pads?  I personally like the Raiders, but they have been so bad for so long that everybody seems to have labeled them as a punchline.  True, they haven’t been good for a very long time.  They went to the Super Bowl in 2002, and ever since then, the bottom fell out for that team.  And that can all be attributed to two quarterbacks, Rich Gannon and JaMarcus Russell.

Gannon was an awesome fit to the Raiders’ West Coast Offense, and he went to the Pro Bowl three straight years, winning the Pro Bowl MVP twice.  But in 2003, he injured his shoulder, and in 2004, Derrick Brooks finished his career.  After Gannon, Marques Tuiasosopo, Rick Mirer, Kerry Collins (before his prime), Aaron Brooks (after his prime), Andrew Walter, Josh McCown, and Daunte Culpepper (again, after his prime) all started at quarterback for silver and black.  All-star lineup, huh?

Then in 2007, the Raiders drafted LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell at the #1 overall pick.  He held out on his contract for so long, he missed the first week of the season.  When he finally did play, he was brought in in sort of a preseason kind of way.  He would do two or three series and then get out.  He was finally “ready” and starting in the 2008 season, but not only did he stumbled out of the gate, he basically turned around and ran backwards.  For the next two seasons, JaMarcus gave the Raiders eight wins, 21 interceptions, 15 lost fumbles and a metric ton of just plain bad plays.

But, those quarterback issues are gone now.  They have a solid starter at quarterback for the first time since Gannon, in Jason Campbell.  He’s coming off of his best season in Washington, and the weapons around him are solid.  Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy, and Zach Miller will all be relevant this year, and maybe even Darrius Heyward-Bey will get some better numbers.  He only caught nine passes on 40 targets, but at least part of that had to be JaMarcus’s fault.  He brought that entire offense down.

Plus, the defense is fairly solid in its own right.  I’ve actually met Nnamdi Asoughma, and he is a terrific player.  Easily the best cornerback in the NFL (yeah, that’s right, Darrelle Rivas, I said it).  Richard Seymour is a solid veteran presence who can play at a very high level, and Rolando McClain is my front runner for defensive rookie of the year.

The Oakland Raiders’ motto is “Commitment to Excellence”, but for the last few seasons, that hasn’t been shown.  But this is the best team that the Raiders have fielded for a long time.  I have no trouble seeing the Raiders in the playoffs as a wild card at 10-6.  And I might even be able to put up with some of Al Davis’ paranoid, the-entire-world-in-against-me philosophy.  Some of it, anyway.

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