Patience. You hate that word, don't you? I know I do. We're expected to show an awful lot of patience in our daily lives. Patience standing in line at the DMV while some idiot in front of you has filled out the wrong paperwork and is now preceding to argue with the person behind the counter as if that will help. Patience sitting in traffic. Patience waiting for your tax refund. Patience because somebody is perusing the menu at BK in front of you like they were looking for filet mignon or something and can't find it, and all you want is to get your burger and get out. Patience sucks. F**k patience. "Patience is a virtue," they tell us. Yeah, whatever.
We have, however, little choice but to show the bare minimum, especially in Raiderland. Raider fans have been very patient. Have sat through several rough seasons, AFTER watching a debacle in the Super Bowl. But we wait because we're fans, and because the team is getting better. The Super Bowl is no longer some imagined otherworld, it's out there, a speck on the horizon, but getting closer.
Exhibit A - Darren McFadden. Who here called him a bust in either of his first two years? I may well be guilty of this myself. He got off to a rough start, didn't look like he could stay healthy, showed flashes of brilliance, but often times just seemed a regular guy, and look at him now. We didn't want to have to wait two years, but it was well worth the wait, was it not?
Exhibit B- Darrius Heyward-Bey I know for a fact I called him "bust" on many occasions. He was terrible his first season, in particular. One of the worst receivers I've ever seen, and I watched Willie Gault in Chicago for years dropping passes. Everybody remembers DHB's bobble against KC that gave them the ball....But that was then. This year he is Mr. Reliable, leading all Raider receivers in catches and yards. He's been in on several crucial plays when we had to get the first down, getting open, grabbing the ball, and making a play.
Exhibit C- Jason Campbell. Jason had a rough start with the Raiders last season, had to be benched his second game even. Granted it wasn't all his fault, the O Line was truly awful some of those games, and he would have at least a couple of other bad games, as well. But over the course of the season, he did prove himself our best QB (I might take some flak for this from some, but if you're really being honest, you'll admit it). Jason still has his flaws, but he's also put up some solid numbers, played some really good games. I'll be honest, I was against bringing him here in the first place. I said no way do the Redskins give up on a guy who can still do it. But he can still do it, we became a better team because of him. The Skins, meanwhile, are stuck with John Beck and Rex Grossman.
Exhibit D- Rolando McClain Naturally we all hoped he'd come out and dominate like Willis his first year, but that's not quite the way it worked out. He's not there YET. It's important to remember that he was drafted, thrown in to the middle of a questionable defense, and told to learn on the fly. He did not have the benefit of watching a really good LB play to learn from. He represents what would be the middle of the "bell curve" of patience. The point where we're getting antsy to see him become great, but our patience will have to hold a bit longer.
Exhibit E- Carson Palmer. Carson is at the beginning of the curve. Unless you've been living in cave, you know how controversial this trade has been, and the Cleveland game did not help his case one iota. Still, for those of you who were flat out against the trade, thought it was too expensive, in the end you might be right. But the deal is done and it can't be reversed even if they wanted to. We're going to have to see how this plays out now, and there will be grumbling and yet even more patience will be needed. You want to debate Campbell vs. Palmer, knock yourselves out. But you know after we give away that many picks, he's the guy now. Obviously, we don't have 2-3 years to give him to see what he'll become as we do for our rookies, but let's give him a real chance before we judge him. Maybe come the end of the season, we do another poll on what people think of this trade. At that point, we ought to have a good idea of how things are shaping up.
Now let's not ignore the opposite end of the spectrum. Our patience does have limits, and nobody is going to get 10 years to determine if he was worth the time and money put into him. We know well the players who've not made it, names like Philip Buchanon, Robert Gallery, Fabian Washington, Derrick Gibson, players who simply not pan out for us. And then there were the complete busts of whom we've spoken at length. So as we practice patience with some of our younger players and newer team members, let's remember it's not for nothing. They'll shine for us relatively soon, or they'll be gone. And as for the draft picks we've spent either by using them or trading them, the dice will continue to roll every year. As Cube said:
"What's the haps on the craps?
Shake 'em up, shake 'em up, shake 'em up, shake 'em
Roll 'em in a circle of homies and watch me break 'em
with the seven, seven-eleven, seven-eleven
Seven even back do' Lil' Joe."