Potential. When did that become such an ugly word? Was it recently with Darren McFadden and Jacoby Ford showing flashes of what they are capable of but with injuries that seem to always creep up? Was it years earlier when Jamarcus Russell was drafted 1st overall with the unfulfilled promise of a franchise quarterback?
The true answer for me is actually even before that, all the way back to before the dark days. Back when it seemed only a matter of time before the Jon Gruden led Raiders would win their much deserved Super bowl. Back then every year felt like it was our year only to be let down by some reason or another.
The Raiders were the team to beat each year only to be snake bitten. That team had the utmost potential to the point where a championship felt so obviously in its future and yet they never accomplished it. That is the moment that the word potential became so ugly, we just were still so happy with the team that we didn't notice it at the time.
Ever since Tom Cable with his Rah-Rah bravado broke through the darkest of days to finally bring us back to a form of respectability there has been a feeling of hope again for this team. That potential returned and we had such a feeling of momentum forming in the team. We thought we were done with the dark days and the struggling.
We moved on from Cable for various reasons but we had moved on to Hue Jackson who proceeded to build that momentum up in a new and exciting way. Only problem was that it plateaued too early and fizzled out all during the process of mourning and moving on from Al Davis. Potential missed yet again, both on that season and the potential we had felt with both coaches Cable and Jackson only to find it fools gold again.
Circumstances doomed that unit as well but it did bring in a new age to the Raiders. They missed on the potential of Hue Jackson but they brought in a new General Manager in Reggie McKenzie. We had Carson Palmer and a young new head coach and two straight 8-8 seasons in a row giving us all the world to believe in the potential. Yet the season went to extreme lows throughout the 4 win season leaving a bad taste in all of our mouths.
Don't give up now though because this current team hasn't missed its potential yet, its only just starting to build its true potential. This season in many people's mind has low expectations but I see a team capable of surprising everybody. What we need to see from this team now is to actually meet the potential instead of just having it there.
Raider Nation can no longer handle a team filled with potential with the hope of one day meeting it. What we need now is a team that actually performs at its potential. That means competing for a playoff spot, maybe not getting it but at least competing for it. This team can do that if it performs at its top level, and if they do that they can go into the following season with $50M cap space and a whole lot of momentum.
Reggie McKenzie is currently having the support of the fans at an unprecedented rate on our site. We recently had a poll with an over 90% approval rating, one that would make any politician drool. He has the team on the up in most of our eyes, although the majority believe that its still another dismal season away from where Reggie really can mold it into what he wants. For Reggie though he knows he needs to add pieces to his puzzle this year and not wait for next years cash flood for the team he wants to build.
Adding pieces this year is what this off-season was all about. He has added a nice looking crop of young free agents and talented rookies. He took some gambles on them that he needs to hit on but if he is right then this team is going to surprise plenty of people. It would be quite the nice surprise to clean some of the dirt off of that nasty little word, potential.