There is an unspeakable word that has been cropping up of late. It is a bad word that suggests this team would not have hoped for immediate success.
This team has a number of excuses that could be made for their struggles. The salary cap troubles and the front office and coaching staff overhaul chief among them. But that doesn't mean this season was to be written off from the start. That would mean the Raiders are in rebuilding mode. And you don't say that around these parts. Even if the reality of that situation is upon us.
"I'm not into rebuilding years," said Dennis Allen. " What we've got to do is we've got to continue to develop. We've got to cfontinue to go to work and keep trying to get better every day. That's all I know how to do."
But the truth is, this team is not getting better every day. It appears to be getting worse. Or at least it has gotten as bad as it can get and has leveled off. That still doesn't mean the idea of rebuilding is one that anyone in the organization is comfortable with. Least of whom is the owner.
"Rebuilding? Not as much," said Mark Davis. "I don't know what the word would be. I know that we didn't have the talent, at the beginning of the year, to be a Super Bowl team. I thought that we had definitely potential to get maybe in the playoffs and beat in our division. Obviously that hasn't happened."
"But as far as [giving the coaches] a pass, I wouldn't call it a pass. They've got contracts, they're gonna be here."
The players are certainly not ready to surrender to the rebuilding phase. They feel like there is enough talent on this team to turn things around.
"You look at our schedule, which guys have, and we've talked about it," said Palmer. "Right now we're shooting for 9-7. You've got to win all the games left and see kind of where the chips fall at the end of the year. The AFC is still pretty wide open for the most part. We need some things to bounce our way, but we believe if we look at the schedule, we know some of those teams we've already played, but we're going to come in and try to work and try to find a way to get to 9-7 and see what happens."
Some players, such as Marcel Reece, who had a tremendous day with 193 yards from scrimmage, get pretty heated when that word comes up.
"Rebuild?" said Reece. "There's no such thing as a rebuild year, this is a business. If you rebuild it you get out. We're going out there trying to win. We're shooting to win out the rest of the season, that's the bottom line to it."
Mathematically the Raiders are still in it. But they would pretty much have to win out the season to sneak into the playoffs. Right now, the word rebuilding is being treated like the word playoffs was treated by Colts former head coach Jim Mora in his famous press conference so many years ago.
One more loss could accelerate the rebuilding talk and silence any talk of winning out and making a playoff push. Although, for most of us, that shift in speak has already occurred. Even if the Raiders don't want to hear it.