In the last two years we have seen a dramatic turnaround from a losing franchise to a contender. We went from a 4 to 5-win team to having at least 7 in each of the last two seasons and are now leading our division this late in the season for the first time since 2002. There are a lot of factors that have caused this, but really, I credit four guys for the turnaround. We really should try to get Amy and Mark to hold an official Raider Nation appreciation day at the end of the season for these people, no matter the final results.
You'll find out who they are after the jump (No particular order)1. Al Davis.
Good ol' Al. He caused our decline with some poor choices. There is no doubt about that. But he made some damn good moves before his untimely passing. The draftings of Jacoby Ford, Jared Veldheer, and run DMC were all smart. He took a chance on Michael Bush when nobody else would. And then he made out like a bandit this year with Denarius Moore, Taiwan Jones, Stefen Wisniewski and even Chekwa, who showed promise this year before being IR'd. He also made moves acquiring two of the other men on this list as players.
Rest in peace, Al. The Raiders are in good hands.
2. Richard Seymour.
Big Richard. A fiery competitor. We picked him up from New England in exchange for a first rounder. I think it's safe to say we fleeced them. Belichick thought he was washed up and done. NOPE. He was reluctant at first (Understandably, as Oakland had developed a rep as the career graveyard). But he came over here and started leading by example. And it worked. He anchors our now excellent D-line, and his example even got Tommy Kelly to live up to his potential. It is my personal opinion that the Raiders should break tradition and retire Seymour's number when his career ends.
3. Jason Campbell.
JC is not the most talented QB out there. He had trouble with the deep ball (Which Al loved). He was not going to throw 400 yards and 5 TDs every game. But he is a leader and a hard worker. And he gave this Raider offense that leadership to complement Seymour on the other side of the ball. He helped us to our first non-losing season since 2002, and had us playing good, solid football before he went down. And he is without a doubt in my opinion the classiest player in the NFL. Most QBs would have bitched and moaned or simply given up when injured and supplanted like he has been this year. Not him. He stepped aside and focused on his recovery and was not a distraction in the locker room. He has never had the same Offensive coordinator 2 years in a row in his NFL career, and had a terrible offense to work with in Washington. This man deserves better than the misfortune he has gotten, and we should show our gratitude.
4. Hue Jackson.
Hue was given the head coaching job after Al canned the Cable guy, a move that had a good deal of the league shaking their head. But he has proven more than adequate. He talks about building a bully, and so far he's done a pretty damn good job. He was able to navigate the treacherous, mined waters of Al's moods and still work with him well enough to have success. His team has overcome a rash of key injuries (10+ on the injury report every week this year) and the loss of their starting QB. His owner has died. But he has persevered through it all. When JC went down, he made probably the ballsiest move ever by a rookie HC in trading for Carson Palmer. And it looked like it wouldn't pan out at first, but it has.
There you have it. I wonder how we could make sure Mark and Amy do the whole appreciation day thing though. Petition?