The one constant for the season thus far has been the fact that there are no "gimmes" for the team, coming off a 4-12 season. Steve Austin, from Seattle, has found himself behind a clipboard instead of frozen behind a depleted offensive line. Key rookies, the kind you expect to contribute right away, have been sidelined by whatever contagion it is that continues to haunt the Raiders locker room. I'm sure the Raider's health costs could easily have paid for a stadium over the last 10 years.
The hot QB prospect found himself overshadowed by an undrafted guy. DMC and Ford are on the field again (Whodathunk!). In a reversal of the demolition that occurred opening day several years ago, against the Titans, it was the Raiders that came up with the four sacks. Seems like that struggle with a pass rush wasn't a "gimme" either. Nor was the fact that we would automatically lose the game with our offensive line. OK, Barnes and false starts still stand as a "gimme" until further notice But not coaching failing to make adjustments during half time. Or replacement linemen being turnstiles.
And next to last but not least, this game against the Jags is not a "gimme". The Raiders have become Zen Masters at playing to the level of their competition. They will transcend their own skills and take on the ones of their opponents. Even at the height of non-losing in the last decade, the schedule was strewn with the names of teams we should have beat and found a way not to. That's the biggest "gimme" to haunt this team since the Super Bowl. We have the ability to turn no names into legends, if just for a day.
I'm not concerned with beating the Jags. Losing would be indicative of many more problems than the ones apparent now. After Jabustus came ouf of the pitiful KC game, Cable knew it was time to pull the plug. I imagine a loss to the Jags might involve somewhat of a similar soulsearching after rounding up the usual suspects. What I'm concerned with, is how we beat them. Are we able to beat them with gameplans on both sides of the ball? Or do we count on TP breaking Doug Martin's record, erasing a huge blight on our name, but not answering as many questions as a couple of nice TD throws would. Can our secondary expose Chad Henne for the mortal he is? Or will we manage to lift him to Olympian heights while squeaking out a 3 point win? And then there's the fact that we might want to think about how our run defense is looking. Certainly the achilles heel of the team for 10-11 years. And how about the fact that we're paying other backs good money to run the ball?
I'm hoping DA gets a statement game from the team. He deserves it. It's hard to administer a team that's in constant flux with both coaching and players. He's managed to move the team forward. Now we have to make sure that we continue to play at a higher level. A drop could have disastrous implications with the Donkeys waiting in the wings. TP needs to do as many things right as he can. Same with DMC and the receivers. Can't start dropping balls just because we've got the lead. The defense can't let the running game dominate their attention. The offense can help by putting up points that don't involve Jano coming on to the field except for the PA. Let's Go Raiders.