Coming off a straight up awful performance against the New York Jets, it’s easy to focus on the negative. Playoffs? What playoffs? Right? But what’s getting lost, at least this week, is still that the Raiders are still 6-5.
If you go back to before the season began, most media outlets had the Raiders finishing with a Top 5 pick, and guess what? That’s not happening. I will stand by the statement that this team is over performing when anyone that’s been watching all season can see that a considerable amount of the production that’s led to wins has come from rookies.
Mike Mayock knocked this draft out of the park and has laid a foundation that the Raiders can continue to build on with incoming draft capital and the abundance of cap space he’ll have to work with this upcoming free agency. If the “Mayock Bunch” can help the Raiders go 8-8 or better, I still believe he is in the conversation for Executive of the Year.
If we were all being honest with each other, after 17 straight winning seasons, Bill Belichick should win this award every year. However, that’s not how it works. So, here’s five other GMs who might have something to say about Mayock winning the award in his first year as the Raiders’ GM. His top adversaries, if you will.
5. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers)
The Steelers traded away he-who-shall-not-be-named, let Le’Veon Bell walk in free agency, lost Ben Roethlisberger to a season-ending injury and are suffering through injuries to Juju Smith- Schuster and James Conner. Despite all that, they’re currently sitting as the 6th seed in the AFC, and that’s not an accident. Colbert moved up in the draft to take Devin Bush and traded away a 1st round pick for Minkah Fitzpatrick. Both moves are part of the reason the Steelers in the midst of the playoff race.
4. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks)
The Seahawks shouldn’t be this good. It’s really that simple. Russell Wilson is a big part of the equation. But if you look at that roster, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Yet, the Seahawks are the only team to beat the 49ers this year thus far. Schneider has made the Seahawks a continuous playoff team year after year, but this year might be the most impressive.
3. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers)
I traveled to Wisconsin to watch the Raiders get smacked by the Packers. Every single time the conversation turned to football with a local — which was a lot — everyone was curious to see what kind of coach Matt LeFleur was going to be. More importantly, everyone had all eyes on Gutekunst.
Ted Thompson never spent money on free agents and Gutekunst went out and did the opposite. He paid a lot of money for Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith this past offseason and it’s paying dividends. Besides this past Sunday night, this doesn’t look like the same Packers team.
2. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens)
While his predecessor Ozzie Newsome drafted Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews and Orlando Brown as his final parting gift, make no mistake DeCosta still had to continue to surround Jackson with the players to succeed. None more apparent than the off-season signing of Mark Ingram, and trading for Marcus Peters. DeCosta recognized that more was needed, and he did just that. Lamar went into New England and won, handedly. It sure didn’t look like an accident or a fluke.
1. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers)
As much it pains me to say, right now Lynch is the front runner if the Raiders don’t finish with a winning record. Lynch took over as GM for the 49ers in 2017. Over the last two years they went a combined 10-22. This year? They’re the best team in the NFC and a legitimate Super Bowl contender. He took his time and built a contender.