Every once in awhile you come across something that is just so spot on that it's ridiculous. Today I was thinking about how Bruce Irvin, Malcolm Smith and Ken Norton Jr. were all poached from the Seattle Seahawks when a realization hit me. There was an article posted here at Silver & Black Pride that predicted this state of the Raiders all the way back in 2012.
The great NinjaGoro is the clairvoyant one I am speaking of, and he is giving RaiderDaumus a run for his money. NinjaGoro now posts under his real name of Goro Burroughs and he is an extremely valued member of our editorial staff for this site. Those of you that know his writing know that this man is an utter genius, his football acumen is the stuff that legends are made of.
In 2012, Goro Burroughs posted this inciteful and clairvoyant article that compared the Raiders rebuild to the Seahawks. Now, he didn't go as far as to deem the Raiders rebuild as one destined for success but he did aptly compare the strategies that Reggie McKenzie instituted as part of the blueprint that the Seahawks put into place.
It essentially was a slash and burn policy with an emphasis on rebuilding through youth and creating an energetic environment. That is an extremely simplistic way of stating it, I suggest you read the awesome article I am talking about for the detailed analysis.
We all know where the Raiders were when they began this rebuild, they were in salary cap purgatory that took years to climb out of. Look at them now though, they are a team that is on everybody's radar as the up and coming team that is ready to make waves. They could be another "Dream Team" like the Philadelphia Eagles of 2011, but it just doesn't feel like that is the case here.
This isn't a flash in a pan improvement, this is a calculated effort that started years earlier. The team is saying the right things too, something Vince Young did not do for the 2011 Eagles. Instead of boasting about how great they are about to be, the Raiders are talking about how none of this improvement on paper matters if they don't improve on the field as well.
That is the opposite of the bragging we heard from the "Dream Team" Eagles and falls right in line with the type of attitude that was installed in Seattle during their rebuild. Just like getting rid of the out of whack contracts that Reggie McKenzie inherited and staying committed to the plan in place matched what the Seahawks did as well.
Both teams went through mass exoduses of their star players to fix their salary cap situations and allow the team to be built from the ground up. Then both teams continued to rely on their scouting departments and drafted quality young players that fit into the locker room environment that they were creating.
The biggest thing that both the Raiders and the Seahawks did well with though is that they both managed to find their Quarterbacks without reaching in the draft. Russell Wilson fell to the 3rd round for the Seahawks, while Derek Carr fell to the Raiders in the 2nd. Both players are incredibly mature, and strong character leaders of their teams.
It took the Raiders longer to implement their rebuild than it took the Seahawks, but every indication is that they have done it. This Raiders team feels ready to compete, and the world is recognizing it. Whether they do or not we have to wait til September to see, but it appears to me that they followed Seattle's rebuild to the letter.
Now they have their players coach in Jack Del Rio, their rebuilt roster that is ready to compete with anyone, and the right mentality to stay focused and let their game do their talking. They also built a defense that is ready to attack opposing QB's and are now trying to solidify their secondary as the final piece to their defensive puzzle. The Raiders have one more important draft coming up in just over a week to add some more key elements to this team but they seem ready to be a winning team in 2016.
A lot of things have changed since 2012 for this club, it was a very long process that began when Reggie McKenzie took over this team that very year. Goro Burroughs was spot on with his analysis though, the blueprint that the Seahawks created has been expertly maneuvered by McKenzie. That isn't to take any credit away from Reggie McKenzie either, it took all the skill you hope your GM has to get the Raiders to this state.
The Raiders are ready to take the NFL by storm or be extremely disappointed by failing to meet their own high expectations. The dark days have never been closer to having been ended and the first winning season since 2002 is within reach. Raider Nation will still need to be cautious with their excitement for obvious reasons but if the Seahawks blueprint continues to work this well then there should be plenty of things to celebrate in 2016.