There has been a lot of chatter this off-season of people bashing the Raiders. Until proven differently this team will not be garnering much respect but at least its easy to exceed expectations when they are setting the bar so low. The critics are making it unlikely that this Raiders team will be as bad as they are projecting them to be simply by making it hard for any team to be as bad as they are projecting Oakland to be.
Another thing about these negative critiques is that they will not have gone unnoticed by a team that is full of people that already want to prove themselves. This will only serve as more motivation to a player like Sio Moore who already is primed to show that he should have been drafted higher. Nick Roach didn't pass up replacing Brian Urlacher to come here and not believe in the team, people telling him otherwise will not be able to penetrate the type of confidence that Nick's signing here showed.
Some look at the roster and think they have the worst Linebacker corp in the league, but I see a unit that is ready to fight for each other and prove that they are being overlooked. I see a unit of players that are too unknown to grade adequately right now and that makes them the punching bag of the off-season. When they get the defensive strategy figured out and start playing together naturally without having to think so much they will show the critics that unknown doesn't always mean unsuccessful.
There is a team every year that comes out and proves everybody wrong. This team has the chance to do that because they already have everybody outside of the team and their fans counting them out. When nobody is looking over their shoulder at you then it makes it a lot easier to sneak up on them.
I can't remember ever seeing a team so full of people that are this eager to prove themselves to the world. It is a recipe that does lead to failure many times due to it expecting players to step up and take advantage of their chance, but its also a recipe that can be successful very quickly. They are living on the edge expecting players that haven't proven themselves yet to be able to take advantage of their chance now, but if it works it can work big.
Don't think for one second that these players don't understand the chance that they have in front of them. There are a ton of expiring contracts on a year where the Raiders will have more than $50M in cap room to spend. That means that there is a nice payday waiting for them if they can prove worthy of it, but also means that the club has plenty of money to hunt out their replacement if they don't perform well.
All the doubters coming out and telling them they are going to be bad at a time where they know they must perform well to capitalize on their opportunity is just adding fuel to their fire. They are even more eager than we are to put the pads back on. These reports are just going to help them perform better. Put them up in the locker room and tell them this is how others see them and watch them work even harder to improve themselves and better this team.
Between the dreams of a big payday and the determination to prove the doubters wrong there are plenty of reasons for these young Raiders to perform well this year. This is their chance and they need to take advantage of it. When they get on the field wearing their pads they will be fighting for their chance to be a part of the future of this team. If they do well maybe they wont have so much bulletin board material said about them next year.
There is still a lot of time left before we really get to start seeing a lot of these players for the first time in Silver and Black. We all want the pads to come on and for us to get more information about what is happening with the team. Hopefully these are the players that will show the wait worthy and really get this team back to where it belongs.