Ok, so here we are at 3-6 with Drew Brees and company getting ready to come into Oakland and surgically dismantle our depleted secondary and inconsistent Defensive scheme. So pick your poison, will it be the run or the pass that we are burned on this Sunday?
The Tampa Bay loss hurt bad and showed some significant incompetency’s in all phases of our Defense. Worse than that, Baltimore put it to us from another angle (the passing game) as I got the sense that Coach Harbaugh knew we would be making extra preparations for Ray Rice. So what does he do? Practically abandon the running game and exploit our secondary of course! Not to mention the fake field goal when they were already up 20+ points. That’s just insult to injury; I mean did you see the slow-mo replay of Harbaugh after it worked? He was mouthing the words “WOW” over and over in slow motion. Even he was surprised that his team just couldn’t be kept from scoring no matter what they tried.
Aah yes, and the resurgence of the personal foul reared its ugly head once again in this game as frustration seemed to get the best of the team while taking the ass whooping. Nothing like jawing it up with an opposing player because you are frustrated only to have him point at the score board and smile (Branch, I’m talking to you). So many things have gone wrong this year; it’s hard to decide where the finger needs to point first. I’ll start with myself.
I can be a better fan. I can be a better supporter and I can be more objective when providing my analysis on this team’s performance. I can be more patient and I can definitely be more respectful to my fellow Raider fans when debating points on the boards. There, I have identified my shortcomings as a fan and am willing to do my part to better the team. But insight does not necessarily bring about change, does it? Change requires willingness within and a desire to do so. In order to make a change for the better you must first recognize there is a problem, but you must also be willing to make the change to fix said problem.
Let’s start here shall we…
Carson Palmer is not a god. He is not Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. He is Carson Palmer and he will stay Carson Palmer. Did we give up too much to get him? Yes. Is he the best QB on our roster? Yes. Does he give us the best chance to win? Yes.
He may not be of the same caliber as the above mentioned Quarterbacks, but on the other side of the coin he is no Blaine Gabbert, Jamarcus Russel, Brady Quinn or Tim couch for that matter either. My point is this: Carson Palmer is a middle of the road quarterback who is a little past his prime. He is an experienced Veteran with a great understanding of the game and excellent leadership qualities. He is able to have a “gunslingers” mentality when a game dictates to do so, but he is also capable of playing within a system as designed (even when it is ineffective) without deviating from the script. In short, he is average and able to make just enough plays to keep you in a game, and even win you a few.
Carson Palmer can also cost you a game or two as well. This we all know to be true. However, in looking at the season as a whole and sticking to my new resolution to be more objective, I have to say that we have won more games because of Carson Palmer than we have lost because of Carson Palmer. As a matter of fact, I think the games we lost because of Carson Palmer we would not have even been “in” without Carson Palmer. So what is the point of all this Carson Palmer ranting? It can be done, that is the point. A winning season is obtainable with an average quarterback. A playoff appearance is obtainable with an average quarterback. A Super bowl victory is obtainable with an average quarterback. Don’t believe me? Look up Trent Dilfer, Jeff Hostetler and Brad Johnson and get back to me.
This is a team game, and it takes an entire team to win. Right now, this team as a whole sucks. We have a decent Quarterback, and sprinkles of talent throughout the squad. But for the most part, if our players are not aging overpaid veterans on the decline, they are young inexperienced players who make frequent mistakes. This is not necessarily a recipe for success in any venue. Add to that the depth issues and snakebite injury issues and we are one season away from being the Cleveland Browns of this generation.
Without a strong Defense to support an average Quarterback, there is going to be failure. Without a strong Offense to support a failing Defense, there is going to be blowouts and muscled gerbils running wild through holes the size of a Mac Truck.
Tom Brady has had a shitty defense over the past few years. He has made the playoffs and even the SB, but has not finished with a SB win. The San Francisco 49ers made the playoffs last year because of their Defense, but were unable to beat the current reigning Champions in the playoffs because they didn’t have all of the tools they needed on Offense. Drew Brees and the Saints were able to make the playoffs the last few years, but without a consistent balanced running game and a Defense that can stop the pass like they had when they won the SB, they have been unable to get it done. Aaron Rogers and the Packers almost went undefeated a year or two ago, but with one of the worst Defenses in the league and an unbalanced running game they were unable to get it done.
Now there are arguments to the contrary for every example I provided above. “The Packers and the Patriots only had a bad Defense because everyone was passing on them to try and catch up etc.” All one needs to do to see why balance on all sides is important for success in this league is look at last year’s super bowl champions the New York Giants. I believe they were a wild card team with only 9 wins going into the playoffs, but statistically balanced in almost every facet of the game while playing in the playoffs and the super Bowl. Eli Manning is not Peyton Manning by any stretch. In fact I would argue that Eli Manning is an average Quarterback, capable of making big plays as well as costing a team a win or two with bad plays. Sound familiar? The difference between Eli Manning and Carson Palmer is the supporting cast (and the Rings of course).
I am NOT saying we are going to the Super Bowl this year. What I am saying is this; I doubt Carson Palmer is going anywhere for a few years, and winning playoff games and a super bowl is possible with him as the QB and leader of this team. But it will NOT happen without the right supporting cast providing balance across the team as a whole.
This “balance” includes coaching. I charge you to show me one team in the history of the NFL who acquired a new GM, HC, OC, DC, and STC in the same year and made a successful playoff run. Now I’m not saying it has not happened, but I’ll be surprised if there is a team out there that completely gutted the staff like we did and still produced a top notch product. I’m not talking about a team that just replaced the HC and GM, I mean a team that replaced every leadership coaching and management position in the house in the same year and was successful that same year.
Patience I pledge to have going forward. I hate Gregg Knapp, but I have to deal with it and bitching about him at this point is moot. I’m not happy with Jason Tarver’s performance the past two games, but he has done some good things with the talent he has so far and again bitching about it is moot because he isn’t going anywhere. The ZBS sucks for McFadden, but it’s here to stay so bitching about getting rid of Hugh Jackson is moot because he is not coming back. Changing the entire O and D Schemes when all they needed was tweaking is not working this year, but it’s not going back the way it was so bitching about it is moot.
I’m tired of people calling for the firing of Dennis Allen half way through his first season. I’m tired of people whining about how Hugh should never have been fired. I’m tired of bitching myself about how Knapp calls plays that are short of the first down marker on third down. I’m tired of our players getting hurt and there being skill-less bums to fill in (that’s right Will Smith I’m talking to you). I’m tired of people bitching about Reggie letting Allen pick his own staff. And most of all I’m tired of people pointing a finger at others while there are three pointing back at them, and, like all of you I’m tired of f@#$ing losing.
This is going to take YEARS to fix and we need to get over ourselves. The ZBS was implemented now so we can get the growing pains out now, instead of when we have new talent (when we actually have a draft) and a chance to compete. DA was allowed to pick his own staff because Reggie understands loyalty and how a championship organization is supposed to run. It is also painfully obvious to see what happens when ownership and management gets in the way of those relationships and the dysfunction it breeds (see Jerry Jones and the late Al Davis for examples of this). We as Raider fans are obligated to bleed silver and black. We definitely don’t have to like the choices that are made by the Oakland Raiders Franchise leadership, nor are we obligated to keep quiet about our discontent. However, we can all be a little more respectful to each other when debating these dissatisfactions and above all else, aren’t we here to support our team, not to tear it down? Especially when it’s at its all time low.
Lastly, I would urge you to consider this. Next time you are itching to call for the head of Dennis Allen because he is a Defensive minded coach and we have given up 90 points in the last two games, or you want Tarver to be replaced by someone who actually has DC experience, or you want Palmer dead because he threw us an interception that cost us the game, or you want to shoot Knapp in the face with a bow and arrow because he can’t call plays worth a shit, please think of this. Is Dennis Allen or Jason Tarver any worse than Bresnehan? Would we have even had a chance to win that game that Palmer just threw a pick in costing the win, without him leading us to the brink to have the opportunity? Is Knapp…Sorry I don’t have anything for this one, go ahead and shoot him in the face? My point is that we can all be a little more realistic with our expectations when we look at the whole picture. I’m not saying that you have to like every piece of the picture, but if you look long enough, you will find a small corner that suits you and gives you the ability to continue to support the greatest Franchise is sports history, through good times and bad. That’s what being a fan is all about.