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Rich Bisaccia: ‘Just win, maybe?’

Interim coach’s mantra strikes as odd considering Raiders’ motto

NFL: Washington Football Team at Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia argues a call during the fourth quarter against the Washington Football Team this past Sunday.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Out of all the things Rich Bisaccia said in his post game press conference after his Las Vegas Raiders’ 17-15 loss to the Washington Football Team this past Sunday, one thing stood out like a sore thumb. And it seemingly flies in the face of everything Raider.

“You want to talk about highs and lows of the season … the highs have been pretty good and the lows have been really low,” the Raiders interim head coach said. “The lows have been really low, and then professionally, on the grass, the lows have been low.

“But again, if you’re results-oriented all the time, then you’re just looking at the scoreboard, spending your life up there. “So there’s a process to what we’re trying to do. There’s a process to trying to improving every day.”

Wait, so... “Just win, maybe”? That’s in a whole different universe than the just win, baby.

By delving deeper into Bisaccia’s mantra, you can see it does hold value. The scoreboard doesn’t tell the whole story — the growth and lessons learned game in, game out. As glorious or humiliating the lessons might be (dictated by if the team lost or won), there’s invaluable teaching moments within them that the scoreboard can’t capture. And in essence, a team can improve every day.

But for a moribund franchise like the Raiders, thorough dissection of any mantra and supreme patience aren’t luxuries it has at the moment. Especially not with the team at 6-6 and in the midst of another season collapse, the third instance in the last three years.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Las Vegas Raiders
Suffice it to say, but Raiders owner Mark Davis likely does plenty of scoreboard watching.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s imperative “getting better everyday” translates into all-important victories gamedays. The team has five more opportunities to so during the 2021 campaign. Because there’s one person who is most-assuredly results-oriented all the time and is doing plenty of scoreboard watching and, to Bisaccia’s chagrin, living up there: Mark Davis. The Las Vegas Raiders owner can’t be pleased by what he’s seen of late, a thrilling overtime win over Dallas on Thanksgiving, notwithstanding. Davis is the one who’ll make decisions that impact not only Bisaccia’s future as a Raider, but the entire coaching staff and perhaps even general manager Mike Mayock.

Davis’ watching his football team go through the Jekyll and Hyde nature will weigh heavy if he does decide to make changes regarding his football team at season’s end. The team’s unpredictable nature of looking good one game to shockingly bad in another (hence the Jekyll and Hyde reference) has resulted in this disconcerting .500 record after a 5-2 start.

One of the ways the Raiders can mitigate the disappointment is coming out of the gates like gangbusters rather than the timid nature it showed against Washington this past Sunday. Bisaccia spotlighted the way the team started against Dallas as something to aspire to during his Monday media session.

“We tried, like I said, different things in practice to try to get us going a little bit faster earlier. Dallas game, we come out the first drive, we hit DeSean [Jackson] and have a big play touchdown,” Bisaccia said, on avoiding slow starts. “This week the defense started off for us and gave up two explosive plays, the next thing you know we are down 7-0. So, we are going to look at all those things again and see what we can try to do to spruce up practice a little bit.”

Placing the entirety of the situation squarely on Bisaccia’s shoulders is unfair. After all, he was charged with picking up the pieces and keeping the team together after head coach Jon Gruden resigned. But the NFL is quite an unforgiving juggernaut. Equity? The NFL laughs in its face at times.

The league cares little about what ails your team, or whether or not your initial head coach was put out in the public square and forced to take his ball and go home. It doesn’t care you lost a big-play wide receiver to a horrible car accident that took the life of a young woman. For better or worse, what matters is the that win-loss column that separates the cream of the crop from the rest.

But the league can be a funny place, too. Take for example if Bisaccia’s Raiders — with their collective backs against the wall — trot into Arrowhead and topple the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs. Gasp! The Raiders are alive and just beat the best team in the division! Suddenly, the doom and gloom will give way to some hope.

Yes, the Raiders are 6-6 and likely need to go 4-1 the rest of the way to get into the playoffs. That alone seems like an impossible task considering Vegas’ most-recent excursion. But, the AFC is packed to the brim with hopefuls with Las Vegas still alive and one win can change the landscape. The NFL has been topsy turvy this year so some funny things could happen the rest of the way. And what the Raiders do if the situation breaks in their favor bears watching. The team has been given a fortuitous turn of events before this season; things set up quite nicely and all it had to do was win.

Defeat at the hands of the Chiefs all but extinguishes the Raiders playoff hopes. And there’s that word again: Hope.

Hope is a powerful thing. And for too long, the Raiders have squandered it. Ultimately, that may be the reason Bisaccia never ascends past the interim head coach title.