Oakland Raiders: The Sky Is Falling, The Sky Is Falling


The Oakland Raiders laid a big, fat egg on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. They got beat down in every phase of the game. There’s no sense in denying or sugarcoating that. The Raiders would love to just take this game and bury it deeper than Tony Sparano buried that football on the practice field last season.

But a little perspective from the fans, the haters, and more importantly, the sports media, would be a very, very good thing right about now.

Thirty two teams played in sixteen games in week one. If you’re doing the math at home, that means that sixteen teams lost their season openers! Oh, the horror!

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Joining the Raiders in the week one losers club were teams that some consider sexy playoff picks like the Vikings, the Eagles, the Lions, the Colts, and even a team who some believe are legit Super Bowl contenders this year – again – the Seahawks.

Yet to hear national sports media “experts” tell it, the Raiders were the biggest disasters to take the field on Sunday. Everywhere you turn, whether it be in the newspaper, television, talk radio, or online, you hear “same old Raiders” with predictions of more doom, gloom, and even worse things to come.

Kristopher Knox, a featured writer at Bleacher Report, has even gone so far – after one game of play, mind you – to give the Raiders the “edge” in being the NFL’s worst team this season. Wrote Knox:

"“The harsh reality is that the Raiders looked like they could be the worst team in the NFL. With all due (dis)respect to the Cleveland Browns, the Raiders were definitely the most painful team to watch Sunday.”"

Perhaps Knox didn’t see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers get lit up and lose by 28 points to the Tennessee Titans. Perhaps Knox didn’t see the New York Giants literally give away a game they had in hand to the Dallas Cowboys. Perhaps Knox didn’t see an undermanned Carolina Panthers team take it to Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars – a team many believe are a dark horse playoff contender.

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  • Perhaps Knox didn’t see a San Francisco 49ers team – a squad with turmoil and question marks all over the field – absolutely dominate a Teddy Bridgewater led Minnesota Vikings team many believe is a playoff contender right now. Or perhaps Knox didn’t see the Seahawks slip, stumble, and fall their way to an overtime loss to the St. Louis Rams.

    But Knox apparently did see the Browns get crushed by a Jets team that isn’t exactly among the top tier teams in the league this season. And the Browns sure did make a middle of the road, journeyman quarterback like Ryan Fitzpatrick look like a world beater on Sunday.

    And yet to Knox – and others of his thinking of course, Oakland’s loss was so much worse than any other team’s loss on Sunday that they’re destined to have the top pick in next year’s draft.

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    This, despite the fact that the Raiders lost to a Cincinnati team that has made the postseason four years running. It shouldn’t matter that the Bengals have been one and done each year – as Knox suggests it does. The simple fact of the matter is that they’ve been a good enough team to qualify for the postseason for the past four seasons.

    This wasn’t a loss to the Jets – a team that hasn’t been to the postseason (or even posted a winning record) since 2010. This wasn’t a loss to the Browns – a team that hasn’t posted a winning record since 2007 and hasn’t been to the postseason since 2002. The Raiders lost to a pretty good Bengals team.

    But Knox, and others within the sports media industry, have already declared the Raiders’ season dead and gone. To them, this one loss was so egregiously terrible that the whole season is a lost cause and we all better start making our plans for 2016.

    Sep 13, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) yells at a teammate before running a play against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    In fact, why bother playing out the last fifteen games at all? We can all save ourselves some trouble by packing it in now, calling it a season, and finding something else to do on Sundays for the rest of the year. Right? Right?

    The point is that whether it is by one point or twenty points, a loss is a loss. Sixteen teams lost on Sunday and Oakland’s record is exactly the same as the other fifteen teams – 0-1.

    Just as you cannot really gauge how a team is going to look based on preseason results, you can’t really gauge how a team is going to look over the course of a season after just one game. If you could, Knox and other knee jerk, reactionary sportswriters should have written off the New England Patriots last season after their week one game – a game in which they did not look particularly good and wound up getting thumped 33-20 by a demonstrably inferior Miami Dolphins team.

    Yet despite their opening week setback, what happened to the Patriots last season? Oh, that’s right, they won the Super Bowl.

    This is not to suggest that the Raiders will win the Super Bowl this season. This is merely to suggest that one game does not a season make. This is merely to suggest that knee jerk, reactionary sportswriters like Knox and others of his ilk, should probably lay off the caffeine for a bit, go take a walk out in nature, breathe the fresh air, and get a little perspective on life and the world of sports.

    Yes, the Raiders look bad against the Bengals. They looked horrible. They were soundly beaten in every phase and facet of the game. Even Cincinnati’s waterboys were more on their game than their Oakland counterparts.

    But it was just one game. And nobody ever won or lost the Super Bowl the first week of the season.

    Of course, the Raiders are dealing with the albatross around their necks that is their recent history. More than a decade of losing seasons isn’t going to buy you a lot of benefit of the doubt. It’s what this team does on Sundays that is going to matter. And this past Sunday, they looked dreadful. There is no question about it.

    Until Oakland’s performances on Sundays improve, knee jerk, reactionary sportswriters like Knox will continue to write as if every loss is the end of Oakland’s season.

    In football, the past doesn’t mean much. Past successes or failures don’t dictate future successes or failures. A team that goes 4-12 one season, can go 11-5 and win their division the following year. And vice versa. We’ve seen it time and time again.

    Yes, the team lost on Sunday. They looked horrible. But it’s how they come back the following week that will determine whether or not these are the “same old Raiders” of season’s past. It’s how they come out and compete after a particularly bad game that will define the Jack Del Rio era in Oakland.

    The Raiders are 0-1. It’s the same record as fifteen other teams in the league – some who will be in the playoffs this year. It’s actually not the end of the world that some sportswriters are making it out to be.

    Contrary to popular opinion, the sky in Oakland is not actually falling.

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