Now that I have had the night to sleep off the horrible effects of Matt Flynn's performance against the Washington Redskins, I really feel like this is a great stepping stone for the future of this franchise. I know its hard to see it right now, its hard to see the forest for the trees. Still this game united us in a way that only a terrible performance by Flynn could, there is no QB controversy anymore.
We all know how bad Flynn was in this game, there is no denial anymore. There is nobody left that feels like he is the better option this year. Sure there are still people that are not sold on Terrelle Pryor as the franchise QB this team has desired for so long, but there is nobody left that can say with a straight face that he doesn't give us the best shot to win this season.
This is a painful realization for many due to the extraordinarily high price that was paid by having to sit through the monstrosity of a game yesterday, but the deed is done and we now get to move on in a way that was not entirely possible before. Many fans needed to see Matt Flynn in the regular season to be convinced that Pryor really was the best answer right now, and they got that convincing done in spades with that performance. The Raider Nation is now united, though painfully, in believing that TP needs to be on the field for this team to win in 2013.
Another positive to take out of this game is how the defense played. This defense is flying around and making plays. I know by the end of the game the defense wasn't playing as well but they got tired and frustrated by then after watching the offense flounder every opportunity the defense gave them. They played their hearts out and watched their efforts go to waste in a winnable game time and time again. It takes a lot of frustration for the team captain to feel like the boos raining down on the team were warranted and that is how far the frustration got for Charles Woodson.
Jason Tarver and Dennis Allen have created a defense that is playing as a unit and they are believing in each other. The coaching staff has been preaching for them to play disciplined football and to know their assignment which is working when you watch them play. Robert Griffin III is a quarterback that tests the limits of discipline and he was held in check for most of this game. It is hard to stay on the edge and not over persue but that is exactly what this team was able to do for most of the game, as proven by RG3 only having 3 rushing attempts for 10 yards.
Even though the defense played well it wasn't enough to overcome the offense's struggles, but that is not on the defense. They played well enough to win this game and should have been rewarded for their effort. This is a defense that is ready to step up to the next level, they just need more help from the other side of the ball to do so. The foundation of the future of this team has been dug out and the concrete has been poured, this team is ready to build their house on top of this defense.
Another nice positive to come out of this game is one that we all really were hoping not to have to see, that is the back up running back Rashad Jennings. Rashad is a great complimentary back but we don't want to have to use him as the primary runner but the fragility of Darren McFadden forced that to be the case. Jennings came through with flying colors as he ran hard and made the tacklers pay for stopping him with his aggressive style of play.
Rashad ran the ball 15 times for 45 yards which is only a 3.0 YPC average but he ran a lot better than that stat line would have you believe. The Redskins were daring the Raiders to beat them with the deep ball and that meant stacking up on the running lanes so its understandable for Jennings to not have a great YPC but he still managed to make positive yards even on plays where he was hit in the backfield.
Where Rashad really made his impact though was as the checkdown option were he accumulated 71 yards receiving on 8 catches and in special teams where he got the blocked punt that was recovered for the first touchdown of the game. We don't want to have to rely on Jennings but we knew sooner or later it would come to that and it was nice to see that he was ready for the duty.
Hopefully this will be the only game that Terrelle Pryor will miss because his athletic ability was the difference between winning and losing this game. The Raiders have a really tough test the next two weeks as they play the Chargers and the Chiefs who both have started out strong. Who would've guessed the AFC West would go from one of the worst divisions in football to the best division through the first 4 weeks of the season?
The Raiders are at the back of the pack now with their 1-3 record and the outrageously optimistic thoughts of maybe competing for the playoffs are long gone. Now more than ever the Raiders are just trying to stay progressing to where they are stronger for the future, even though they obviously are not mathematically eliminated yet from playoff contention. Lets be realistic here though, the wildcards in the AFC this year are likely to be 10 win teams and that would take going 9-3 for the rest of the season, which isn't going to happen for this team.
That is hard to hear for the eternal optimists in the bunch like me but most of the fan base already knew the truth. This is a team in transition and that means painful loses to better the team. They are competitive and they are playing hard, but its to set up the future more than anything else. It is hard to go through a season like this but we need patience and understanding most of all, this season is a stepping stone for better things to come.