I am a proponent of energy. I believe nothing happens until thought -- collective thought in this case, propagates it toward a tangible reality. So lend me your ear my fellow Raider brethren, there's action here to create!
In each instance where the opportunity has presented itself this year, we have witnessed our Raiders lack the ability to close games out. While there have been flashes of progress, we've not snuffed out an opponent with ease in any instance. This is the mark of a team still green, as of yet unsure how to use all it possesses, not unlike a baby flexing out its digits figuring out how each instrument might be used with others. There have been murmurs from within of developing this all-important trait but it is all still a big heavy question mark. Thus the next big challenge I see on the horizon for us is to posses that rare quality only the elite can lay claim to ~ the Killer Instinct.
To achieve success -- the kind of continued success we are ultimately expecting to champion, one must be skillfully adept at putting its opponent down. The concept is certainly not exclusive to football, and countless forms of this expression exist. Always Be Closing. Seize the opportunity. Gut 'em. Kill 'em when you got em down. Leave nothing to chance. Punish to an unforgiving end. Plant the proverbial foot on the opponent's neck and squeeze down until the final veiny strand of life has left its body. Metaphorically speaking. But the key is to do it with apparent ease. As if it is second nature. To demonstrate a pride which ostensibly graces the innate understanding of harmony, personified in this instance by an offense which scraps the conventional and simply takes 1st downs with the game on the line, or a defense which puts swift end to the opponents delusions of comeback...and when all is said & done, walks away as if it is just another day of obligations met.
I originally felt the need to write this article a few weeks ago after the victory over the Jags. I think we can all agree far too much was left on the field that day. The way I saw it, a competent and careful version of our team would have suffocated those guys at more like 41-3 than the 19-9 it was. I felt it stirring inside though. We're a powerful weapon but we lack some intangibles wherein lies the difference between beating an opponent because you scored more points, or killing them by the stealth of your superiority. Nevertheless I take solace in that it has reached a point of critical concern to have the conversation at all.
So there is a reason that I, a Raider through and through, bring this topic to a head now rather than say, in 2006. That is not to say a Killer Instinct would not have served us well then (or at any moment for that matter). But Killer Instinct is well, sort of like a mojo. You only get so much of it. And like any living energy, it persists for as long as you believe in it, as long as you feed it. If you can't, it fades away. But if you can make it flourish......
Now is different because TP believes he is best player on the field every week. Whether he is or isn't is almost subordinate to what he manifests for himself and his teammates. That belief is a prerequisite for greatness, and Killer Instinct is merely one of the higher- level attributes picked up along the path to greatness.
But long before 41-3's start happening, long before ESPN treats us as something more than an afterthought, and long before what is ultimately a glorification of flawless execution repeated endlessly sans consideration for anything but one's own self-serving outcome becomes something we can count on, the art form must be perfected internally. The Killer Instinct is embedded into the growth of a spirit and nurtured by it's caretakers, whether it be embodied by a team, a company or whatever else. And most of all in our case in its backbone -- the fans.
So when the raiders take the field this afternoon, it will be interesting to see just how short the learning curve of this group can be. Will it be today? Maybe later this year? Next year? Will it happen at all? It's an answer we will are all eager to see for ourselves. But as ridiculous as it may have sounded just a few short months ago, the building blocks of greatness etched with the Raiders emblem across its side, are now ours to place down and raise upon from.