With our recent demise,as fans adjust to continuous losing seasons, the attacks have become more personal. Football fans have always displayed aggression towards rivals but the vitriolic spewing has now turned towards each other and end doing so, heightened the vitriol that's directed towards the players and management. We speak of haters now as a persona to be embraced or rejected. And that persona is linked to a Raider personality. A coach, a quarterback, a running back, an owner.
The problem is we don't hate anybody as fans. Mot real fans (and I feel comfortable using the phrase in this instance) would welcome the opportunity to sit with any of the personalities on the team, including the ones they have a negative opinion. True, I might not want to share a purple drink with Jabustus or go hunting with McLain but 1) They're not on the team 2) Those are actual personal dislikes. 3) I don't like purple drinks or hunting. I'm certainly not going to turn down a Christmas invite from DA because I don't like his coaching. Are you kidding me? What we hate are the ideas and when we're unclear about the ideas, our heads cling to the nearest personality associated with it. Even in the case of continuity, the personality that people associate with continuity is Al Davis who represents the opposite of continuity in many people's mind. Mainly, those who fail to recognize the difference between eccentricity and formulaic and are left to stare at effect.
As far as personalities go, the discussion really centers around talent. As fans we form perspectives about the talent of the individuals, forecasting their potential based upon what we perceive to be their current flaws and assets. Never mind the fact this is extremely subjective and prone to error based upon the limitation of information and tools for proper assessment, the real problem lies in the failure to consider the talent in the aggregate. It is not the individual that makes the team, it's the team that makes the individual. Consider the irony that the two best backs of the modern era (Barry Sanders and AD) have no SB rings between them and one might begin to see the flaw in the focus on individuals. Or consider the plights of Matt Flynn, Kevin Kolb and Matt Cassel and the absolute certainty of talent invested in them (and why?).
The myth of the last 10 years is that the NFL has passed the Raiders by and that we're now playing catchup. The Dao of the Raiders is it's way, the Raider' Way. The Raider's way has always been built upon team talent, not individual talent. Outside a rookie who sat on the bench for 3 years behind a kicker, all of the competing SB QBs from our team have been backups somewhere. By the time I fell in love with Blanda in the mid 70s, he had already been a backup somewhere else. Same with the kids from that era who watched Plunkett. It worked and it still works. It requires good coaching and motivation. No way does a Flores or Madden keep the same playbook in 2002 that the OC from last year, who's coaching the rival this year, developed. No way does the coach call the team players "the dumbest team in America". And that was the beginning of the curse, as I see it. The departure from the way.
I see Reggie McKenzie as immersed in the Raider's Way. It sure isn't Green Bay's way if you consider their last 2 starting QBs. The gamble with Flynn should have been a punch in the gut but the interesting developments of the season have left him with a 3-4 backup sitting on the bench while holding the NFL QB rush record for yardage for a TD and a UDFA prospect with a hot release and good reads. While we debate the ceilings of each, RM has to be pleased with the way he's squeezed out of that jam and on to some bread next year. Critics be damned, it's not a bad place to be considering where you've been. He's going to have to take chances like this if we're going to win this game. How much lemonade he makes out of the lemons that chances can bring will determine his ceiling. Right now, I see that as high. The wide cast of the net on defense this year has yielded future starters and backups.
But again, the Raider's Way comes down to great coaching and the jury is still out on DA. Mark Davis has settled the continuity questions, it would appear, regarding Reggie and it's a no brainer for me. There's no doubt that within the nucleus of this roster, there's a contender. It's RM's job to find out what that nucleus of players is and to expand upon it next year. But it's going to have to be well coached to bring it together and that's where we run into the DA question again and again. Frankly, there's no argument that can be mounted against continuity just like there's no argument that can be mounted if someone says "let's jump off a bridge". Any arguments are irrelevant in light of the fact that someone already seeks either continuity or "jumping off a bridge" as a goal. The arguments may be sound to us if we contemplated continuity or jumping off a bridge as a solution. Absent that, it's a difference of opinion.
So, outside the continuity question, the only opportunity I see for DA to make a case in in the next 3 games. I don't think a good enough case has been made already but I'm not going to spend time debating it. If the record can't speak for itself, I certainly won't. However, I do see the next 3 games as being fortuitous in that they are against hungry ass division rivals who have no intention of giving us a pass anywhere. Any wins in the next 3 games has to be recognized as significant and indicative of good coaching. A non-competitive effort should be viewed harshly on the coaching staff. We're not looking for the talent among the players, we're looking for the talent among the coaching staff. And if there isn't enough talent among the coaching staff to make a difference, then let everything stand on the record and move forward. Don't hand out passes. I want DA to be that person who can rise above the mediocrity of the moment and lead the charge for the next 3 weeks. If he can do that, I'll be the first to say that's part of the Raider's Way to coach and we should keep him. Absent that, keep searching for that coach.