Before the season started many of us looked at the first four games on the schedule and thought that we "Could" go 3-1.
We saw the Lions and Browns as games that we "Could" win at home and all we needed was an upset in either Denver or Miami to be 3-1 going into the bye week.
Well, we aren't 3-1, but at 2-2 I am as pleased as I could possibly be, considering that we lost the two games that we did by giving up late leads.
Only the eternal optimist had this team at 4-0 to start, while it didn't take an eternal pessimist to see this team at 0-4. (Just see last year's start) ((IF YOU DARE))
At this point we were 0-4, and on the verge of being 0-5 to start the season.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
So, let's start at the TOP:
LANE KIFFIN: A
At the first quarter point, the youngest head coach in NFL history, Lane Kiffin, is already in the running for coach of the year.
He has turned around a franchise that was heading into oblivion.
Not ONLY are the Oakland Raiders the #1 rushing team in the NFL, they have a mean streak in them and a confidence that I have not seen since our last Super Bowl victory.
That's right. I said it. This team CAN be better than any we've had in Oakland since the Raiders returned.
Lane has them going for it on 4th down in KEY situations. In fact, they have made 4 out of 5 attempts on 4th down. The only one they've missed on was the one that Curry dropped this week, otherwise they would have put more points up before the half. In 2006, they were 7 for 21. In 2005 they were 7 for 14.
Nothing illustrates the mentality that Lane has instilled in this team any better than the final offensive play against Miami. With 33 seconds left, the Raiders could have let the clock run down and taken a delay of game penalty and kicked a chip shot field goal for a 14 point lead and then headed home with the victory.
What Lane did is what the 1977 Raiders would have done. He lined up his boys and they shoved the Dolphins backwards and Daunte danced into the end zone for his third touchdown of the day. THAT IS RAIDER FOOTBALL BABY!!!
Lane's play calling has also been great to watch.
One thing you can DEFINITELY say about "Kiff" is that he game plans well and he sticks to it.
I particularly liked his reverse direction draw play that he called against the Dolphins. To me, that was a dagger that just completely flummoxed their defense.
As someone else said, "They used the run to set up the run."
Being that this is "Kiff's" first time being a Head Coach, EVER, at any level, he definitely has some things that he needs to learn.
His clock management with two minutes left in the half and at the end of the game needs to get better.
In, both, the Denver and Miami games he left points on the board and didn't manage the play calling or the clock as well as he could have.
He also needs to learn where that red hanky is. There are a couple of plays that he "could" have challenged, and definitely one, the first interception against Denver, that he definitely SHOULD have.
But, these are growing pains and I am not expecting perfection.
JUST KEEP WINNING BABY!!!