Oakland Raiders: Fans Better Get Ready For A Long, Sad, Doomed Season

May 5, 2017; Alameda, CA, USA; General overall view of the Oakland Raiders headquarters and practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
May 5, 2017; Alameda, CA, USA; General overall view of the Oakland Raiders headquarters and practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oakland Raiders have become relevant again and are reaping success on and off the field – and yet, despite their upward trend, some are predicting “doom” for the team in 2017.

They dwelled a long time in utter darkness, but the Oakland Raiders have finally managed to find their way back into the light again. Fresh off the heels of their first postseason berth since American Idol made its debut, the Raiders have used their offseason wisely, keeping the momentum they’ve been building these last few seasons going.

GM Reggie McKenzie made franchise quarterback Derek Carr a very wealthy man – and yet, still managed to leave enough flexibility in the details of that mega-contract to re-sign other key, foundation players like Gabe Jackson, Khalil Mack, and Amari Cooper. Given the way McKenzie tends to structure his deals, the Raiders are in fantastic shape cap-wise – and more importantly, talent-wise.

This Raiders team is built to have success in the short-term, but more importantly, for the longer-term as well.

Unless, of course, you’re Jean-Paul Harriette, who recently published an article on an Australian website called “The Roar,” in which he predicts nothing short of gloom, doom, and misery for the Raiders this season.

Harriette is predicting a sharp downturn from last season’s 12-4 campaign, calling on the Raiders to finish the season 7-9.

It would be pretty easy to just dismiss Harriette altogether based on his assessment that the 2017 Raiders will be the 2016 Dolphins – and oh yeah, the fact that he doesn’t seem to know which teams play in which divisions.

From his piece:

"“A nice comparison would be last year’s Miami Dolphins, a franchise that took home a 10-6 record despite being stinking waste. They had the luxury of playing the NFC West and it lead to a Wild Card.”"

Last time we checked, the Dolphins were still playing the AFC East. But okay, moving on.

Harriette is under the distinct impression that either the Chiefs or the Broncos will walk away with the AFC West crown this season. And while only a fool would dismiss either as a potential division winner, conversely, only a fool would dismiss the Raiders so casually.

But to be fair, let’s take a look at Harriette’s reasoning and logic – such as it is.

"“Denver are now two seasons removed from Super Bowl 50, with a championship defence still perfectly intact. Trevor Siemian has essentially a rookie year now under his belt (is massively underrated too) and John Elway has made an effort to improve a patchwork offensive line.”"

Perfectly intact? Apparently, Harriette missed the departure of Danny Trevathan and Malik Jackson last year, and the retirement of Demarcus Ware this offseason. So – that Super Bowl defense isn’t actually “perfectly intact.”

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He also missed the fact that Denver’s defense slipped a bit last season from their Super Bowl year. The Broncos still had a very strong defense in 2016 – fourth overall in the league. But they were a far cry from the league’s best defense that carried them to a Super Bowl win.

He also overlooks the fact that Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch are average quarterbacks. At best. Combined last season, the Siemian/Lynch combo went 9-7, throwing for 3,898 yards on a 59 percent completion rate, tossing 20 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. Pretty pedestrian numbers all the way around.

They were also a meager twenty-second in the league in scoring – and that’s not a deficiency even their very good defense was able to overcome. And with Siemian and Lynch battling it out for the starter’s snaps this year, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of reason to believe the Denver offense is going to be all that much better.

Harriette goes on to write:

"“Current division champions Kansas City have been largely able to retain a dominant roster, despite cutting Jeremy Maclin for reasons unknown to me. They will not fall below 10-6… Denver or Kansas will win the AFC West on the backs of their defence.”"

Harriette cites Kansas City’s defense as a reason the Chiefs will take the AFC West title. That would be the same defense that was ranked twenty-fourth in the league last season. The Chiefs defense was opportunistic and made plays when they needed to be made. But let’s not get this twisted and think it’s an overpowering defense that can carry a team to a title.

In fact, had it not been for Carr’s broken leg, Kansas City might not have even won the division title last season, given that Oakland was in the driver’s seat going into the last week of the year.

And the offense – this Alex Smith-led unit is not a high powered, high flying machine. Come on, they ranked twentieth last season. And they further handicapped themselves by dumping Jeremy Maclin, leaving them with Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill as their only two legitimate playmakers.

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Upheaval in the organization – such as the unexpected the firing of GM John Dorsey for one – could potentially spill out onto the field. The Chiefs seem a bit – rudderless – at the moment. And although they’re never an easy out, their window of opportunity may have already closed.

The AFC West may very well come down to a two-team race between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Raiders. The Chargers were an incredibly hard luck 5-11 last year and though they still have some question marks, look fairly loaded.

One of Harriette’s most glaringly ignorant comments – which, if you read the piece, is really saying something – is this:

"“The Raiders have been handed one of the most difficult schedules the NFL had to offer right when they were ready to make the next step, or start regularly recording winning seasons.”"

Yes, the Raiders have the league’s fourth toughest schedule. It’s going to be a hard hill to climb for this Oakland squad. No question. But what Harriette chooses to overlook – or is perhaps, just completely unaware of – is the fact that the three teams with tougher schedules than Oakland just happen to reside in the AFC West.

Oakland Raiders
May 23, 2017; Alameda, CA, USA; Detroit Lions retired receiver Calvin Johnson (second from left) talks with Oakland Raiders receivers Michael Crabtree (15), Keon Hatcher (14) and K.J. Brent (80) during organized team activities at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Denver has the league’s toughest schedule, with an opponent’s winning percentage of .578. The Kansas City Chiefs are second, with a strength of schedule that is .576. The Chargers check in at third, with a strength of schedule that is .568. And finally, the Raiders are fourth with a strength of schedule that is .564.

So while yes, the Raiders are going to have to deal with one hellacious schedule this year, so are all of their division rivals. And when Harriette says that the Raiders are going to have to deal with playing their division opponents six times, the flip side of that is those teams are going to have to play the Raiders as well – a team trending upward and getting a whole lot better.

Harriette’s “logic” and arguments are well beyond laughable and we could pick apart his article, dining out on it for days. But you get the gist – Harriette doesn’t seem like he has a real solid grasp on the NFL in general or the Raiders, in particular.

But at the moment the Raiders apear to be a team on the rise. A very good offense added Marshawn Lynch, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Jared Cook to its arsenal. This has the potential to be one of the most lethal offensive units in the league in 2017.

And if they can get better defensive play, this could be one of the elite teams in the NFL – a team that could conceivably challenge for a Lombardi Trophy.

It’s June. It’s still way too early to know for sure which way the arrow is pointing on any team with any real certainty. A lot can happen between now and the end of the preseason – for any and all teams.

But to say that Oakland is “doomed” only proves that you have not been watching this team, don’t understand the league,  and/or you don’t necessarily deal in reality or traffic in facts.

Other than all of that, Harriette’s article was fantastic.