As fans we have a choice to make every year. Are we going to drink the Kool-Aid and buy into whatever our team is doing? Or, do we sit back and criticize every move they make and every play they don't break for 6?
Every Year, I drink the Kool-Aid. I am just one of those fans, Silver and Black, Gold & Green, Blue, Gold and Orange till I die.
I'm famous amongst my group of friends for saying things like, "I'm not saying it's GOING to Happen, but what IF (Fill In the Blank) won the Championship this year?".
It is usually met with chuckles and someone always asks, "Raymond, have you been drinking the Kool-Aid again?".
I'll tell you what Raider Nation, although my EXPECTATIONS are low this year, I am buying into what Coach Kiffin is selling.
He has brought one of my favorite sayings to into camp. "I'm In". "I'm In" is an agreement to give one's self to a situation without abandon.
The "I'm In" mantra has the players buying "In".
They are buying into the new offensive scheme.
They are buying into the speed at practices.
They are buying into this 32 year old coach with NO Head Coaching experience at ANY level leading them into battle every week and eventually leading them to Championships.
Now, since we are buying "In", let's start with winning the AFC West Championship.
The obvious first step will be beating a Divisional foe for the first time in three and a half years.
I'm In. Maybe it's the Kool-Aid talking but I see us going 3-3 in the Division.
That leaves us with our toughest opponents left on the schedule (Indy and Chicago) playing us at home. Now, I'm not saying it's GOING to happen, but IF we split those two games this team CAN have a 12-4 record.
The toughest games left on the schedule are Jacksonville in Jacksonville and Green Bay in Green Bay on what promises to be a VERY COLD day in December. Other than that we have Detroit, Cleveland and Houston at home and Tennessee, Minnesota and Miami on the road.
Now, other than the Kool-Aid, how can we possibly get there?
First of all Daunte Culpepper will have to be healthy and return to form. IF he does, 12-4 is a possibility. Daunte will be the most experienced and proven quarterback in the AFC West.
Prior to two injury plagued seasons, Daunte had one of the best years of any quarterback ever.
At 27 years of age in 2004, he passed for 4,717 yards, 39 touchdowns and only 11 picks. His passer rating was 110.9.
Putting that into perspective:
Peyton Manning in the same year, at 28, had a passer rating of 121.1 with 49 touchdowns and only 10 picks. Manning's next best rating is 104.1 and he has NEVER thrown for 4,700 yards.
Daunte is one year younger and had he been healthy there is no way that the Raiders would have had a chance to land him.
Daunte is our Blanda, Plunkett or Gannon. He represents our best chance to win now. I am hoping that he throws for 500 yards when we play Miami and, like Plunkett, he leads us to a Super Bowl victory.
Is that Kool-Aid tasting better yet?
How about this. In one of the toughest stretches of our schedule last year we lost three games by a combined 15 points!!!
The first one was when we hosted Denver at home and let the game slip away, or better yet fumble away, at the end. Crockett led the rushing game with a total of 40 yards!!! You know that we will be better on the ground than that!!! Cable's Falcons led the NFL in rushing last year!!!
Here is the game wrap: (Proceed with Caution)
The next two games literally ripped my heart out and the Hater-Aid for Tom Walsh replaced any traces of hope that I had for 2006.
Just like the Bronco Game, the Raiders led 13-7 over the Chiefs on the road. I believed that the string of AFC West losses was about to end. That was until the Chiefs picked off a terrible Aaron Brooks pass to seal the win.
Here is the Game wrap:
The Charger Game is when I died in 2006. That was a game that the Raiders SHOULD have won...Period.
Call it a fumble, illegal forward pass or just a boneheaded play by a supreme bonehead, but the game turned on one play and LT won the game for the Chargers.
Here is the game wrap:
That is three winnable games that were lost by a total of 15 points. We can all agree that our team is better than last year. So, yes, we can go 3-3 against our rivals, we almost did last year!!!
Time will tell, but with all of the love I'm feeling about the new direction this team is taking I must say that, "I'm in, and I'm not saying it's GOING to happen, but, what IF the Raiders Win the Super Bowl this year?"