It's Day One of Free Agency and just like the last 12 years, if you're a Raider's fan, you can feel the God of War align with Uranus. That's not a war cry, BTW. It's the manic-depressive time of year where no fan takes his meds or is more than five feet from a keyboard during any 24 hour period. Hope springs eternal when it isn't getting pissed on by reality.
Fans play chicken with each other as they threaten to burn jerseys or change to Jacksonville while other smugly thump the big R on their chests and fondly recall the last Super Bowl win. You don't have to lose 16 games to see that this kind of situation is "wack". By the same token, losing 16 games over 2 seasons will do that to some fans.
And therein lies the big problem with trying to prove a positive with a negative. If there is a theme for regimes, the one here has been change, as in "we're not going to do what was done before". As a strategy, after 10 losing seasons, the logic sounds impeccable and unquestionable. If Al's legacy is red ink, our legacy will be black ink. It's also not hard to do since there are many teams that have accomplished the exact same thing. However, not all of them are successful. It's too bad Al never got around to trademarking all of the bad ideas before he died. It would have made things a lot easier when we didn't do some of the crazy things he did. Then we would be confidently assured that there were no more bad ideas out there and whatever idea came to mind was a good idea.
Red ink is gone and and we're soaking in black ink. And the chickens, with nowhere else to go, have come home to roost. It was never about whacky contracts, it's always been about talent. Swap Jamarcus Russell's' wacky contract with Calvin Johnson and you have a completely different team, no matter which Mouseketeer you put under center. Talent has never waited for anyone. Tom Brady didn't wait. Manning didn't wait. Whacky contracts have as little to do with actual talent as the madmen who pay them.
As I look at 62 million dollars worth of offensive guard and no left tackle, I'm left to wonder again about the actual definition of whacky contracts in relationship to this team. Al did, bless his soul, finally find a left tackle after a huge miss that resulted in him paying left tackle money for an offensive guard. Maybe we were a little too hasty in distancing ourselves from Al or maybe we didn't understand that he has already paid left tackle money for a guard. Whatever the reason, three years removed from Al's great shadow, we paid left tackle money for an offensive guard. And we got rid of the left tackle to boot.
I'm not sure of the course we're on. I do not pretend to see some intricate plan in these machinations. I' m not certain I want to know because I'm not sure how relevant it's going to be five years from now. If RM's plan is to tank in 2019 because he saw some tenth grader with a hell of an arm, he better switch strategies. At this rate of development, Mark will be talking to the Arab owner of some East Oakland liquor store to see if the team can play in the parking lot. There's a lot riding on the team improving and listening to the Regettes isn't calming the flames of dissent.
There is more involved in rebuilding a team than managing the books. There's getting successful pieces in place. There's risk taking. We've taken a lot of risks and they have backfired. Those risks are setbacks no matter how loud the Regettes sing the Money Rap. Having Knapp tinker with your offense is a setback. It's the risk of hiring Knapp. A risk obvious to anyone who looked at his past. If you're choosing between this coordinator and that coordinator, it's one thing. But if you do due diligence, you know this isn't one of the choices. It's the Willie Smith/Lucas Nix principle we keep getting stuck on. Just because you need someone doesn't mean ability plays no role in the decision. The psychological mix of hiring a man who was demoted by an offensive line coach turned first year HC (and was vocal in his protest) is not the voice of reason some sanity-starved fans were hoping for. And while we can go through all the litany of events that led to the decision, it was still a decision you don't make for a rebuild. Period. From a stability standpoint. So it's a setback because it's a decision you shouldn't make. The same with the Flynn decision. Too much inexperience on the offensive side of a team you tanked the previous year with inexperience in the OC spot (from a playcalling perspective). Flynn's inexperience was a risk and we paid for it. The issue isn't the mistakes, it's the lack of progress because of the mistakes. We should be well past TP at 8-24, well past him one way or the other. Either he's the QB of the future or he's on another team collecting splinters. We did not need to mismanage it in this manner, regardless of the outcome.
I do not know if this is better than the old whacky contracts or not. Somehow, I did sort of like the idea of Al promising us the moon, and bless his soul if he didn't spend every last dime trying to deliver. Too bad he missed on the talent. At this point, I have to assume RM is all in. He has to be. I'm not sure too many people on the planet are willing to look at a 10 year plan that involves a 42 million dollar guard. Too much blood on the floor and the reasoning defies any background vocals from the Regettes unless they know one of Al's old "whacky contract' songs.