Oakland Raiders: Despite all the pearl-clutching, the sky is not actually falling

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Oakland Raiders reacts to a play against the Los Angeles Rams during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 10, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Oakland Raiders reacts to a play against the Los Angeles Rams during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 10, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Raiders dropped their season opener, yet despite all of the hand-wringing, and pearl-clutching, the sky actually is not actually falling.

For the Oakland Raiders, it was a mismatch from the start. But, for one half against the rams, Oakland played like David to LA’s Goliath, and stood toe-to-toe with them, trading body blow, after body blow. It was an impressive opening 30 minutes of play.

Unfortunately, football has two halves to play, and the Rams came out after the mid-game break looking more like Godzilla, while the Raiders looked like Tokyo, as the big lizard rampages on through.

Yeah, that final 30 minutes of play was a mirror image of the first 30, as the Rams came out charged up, made some adjustments that proved to be killer, and blew Oakland off their home field, rattling off the final 23 points of the game – completely unanswered – to beat the Raiders 33-13.

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And, as you can imagine, the instant reaction from – well – basically everybody, is that the Raiders’ season is over, they’re an absolute dumpster fire, that Derek Carr is trash, Jon Gruden is trash, and Oakland would be better served by burning it all down, and starting again.

Yes, there are even people out there calling for Gruden to start A.J. McCarron. Indeed, the hand-wringing and pearl-clutching is so strong right now, you get the sense that if Nathan Peterman were on the roster, there would be a groundswell of support to get him under center.

As cringe-worthy, and ridiculous as these hot takes are, this is where we’re at in our discourse at the moment. For some, the sky is indeed falling, and the entire house is crumbling down around our feet.

And we’re only one week in.

Ignore the fact that in the Rams, Oakland was facing what very well could be the league’s best offense and the league’s best defense. With guys like Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and Brandin Cooks on one side of the ball, and Aqib Talib, Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Marcus Peters on the other, there aren’t a lot of chinks in LA’s armor.

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Let’s just ignore those facts though, in favor of our, “get McCarron in there,” hot takes floating around. Yeah, okay.

The truth of the matter was, the Raiders were going to likely lose this game from the jump. And yes, they likely would have lost even with Khalil Mack in uniform for the Silver and Black, so let’s not go there, either.

The fact of the matter is that, given the personnel they have, and the fact that their core players have been in Sean McVay’s system for a year now, the Rams had the distinct advantage. They look every bit the elite team they’ve been hyped up to be, and are very legit Super Bowl contenders.

That isn’t to say the Raiders are going 0-16, and are absolute garbage. They stood toe-to-toe with the Rams for the first 30 minutes, and had they been able to convert a few key opportunities, would likely have been there right to the end of the game.

Would the have won? We’ll never know.

But, the fact that the Raiders held the ball for more than 20 minutes of the first thirty, and were able to move the ball on that vaunted Rams defense – leading off that game with a very crisp 75-yard touchdown drive – and outgained the Rams in total offensive yards 254 to 98, should be signs of encouragement.

Yeah, they came out and laid an absolute steaming pile of – something we dare not mention in a family-friendly forum such as this – in the second half, but it doesn’t take away the accomplishments of the first. It makes everybody wonder why they couldn’t be replicated over the last 30 minutes, but it doesn’t change the fact that this Raiders team did some tremendously positive things in that opening 30 minutes.

They did some things – on both sides of the ball – that can be built upon. And, if they can actually build on them, and eliminate the mistakes that cost them that game – we’re looking at you, Derek Carr – this could be a surprisingly solid team. This could be a team that surprises people.

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Was Oakland’s season opener what anybody wanted? Absolutely not. But, nobody – and we mean nobody – gave them a snowball’s chance in this game anyway. So, it shouldn’t be the earth-shattering, life-altering, despair-inducing deal some folks seems to be making it out to be.

Indeed – they lost one game. Out of sixteen. Did anybody really think these Raiders were going 16-0? Didn’t think so.

Yes, they looked like absolute garbage in that second half. When the game mattered most, they choked it away. They imploded worse than the Death Star after taking two proton torpedoes into its reactor core. That just cannot be denied.

But, they also looked surprisingly good in the first half – better than anybody would have guessed, if those same people are being honest with themselves. They limited the Rams offensively, and held them to just 10 points. Which is quite a feat, and one that should inspire a little bit of confidence.

While there is much to be cleaned up, and much that needs to be corrected, there is also quite a bit of positive that can be gleaned from Oakland’s season opener. No, it wasn’t the result fans, or the organization wanted. But, it doesn’t mean that – one week in – that the season is lost, and they should burn it all down now.

Though the sizzling (and mostly negative) insta-reactions are still flying in, fast and furious – most of them predicting more doom and despair. Believe it or not though, despite all of the hand-wringing, pearl-clutching, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments, the sky is not actually falling.

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If they don’t starting putting it all together — and soon — there might be a problem. With some very winnable games in their immediate future — starting with this weekend’s match up in Denver — the Raiders have much to prove.

But, it’s important to remember that one game does not a season make. So, let’s all take a deep breath, and try to follow Aaron Rodgers‘ sage words, and try to, R-E-L-A-X.