There was a time in the National Football League (NFL) when the late and legendary Al Davis owned and operated the Oakland Raiders and the team won Super Bowls. That was about thirty-five years ago. For the loyal fans of this squad, it seems like it has been that long since the Raiders have been relevant and a winning franchise.
Years of poor management, questionable free agent signings and draft picks that did not work out have kept this once proud team on the bottom of the standings in its division and out of the postseason. But, in the last couple of years, Oakland’s General Manager has “turned the tide” with solid draft picks and clever free agent signings.
A rapidly-developing second year quarterback, Derek Carr, has “clicked” with speedy wide receivers to make the Raiders one of the National Football League’s highest scoring teams. Clearly, offense has not been the problem.
Trouble for this squad from northern California occurs when its defense is on the field. The Raiders are ranked at twenty-seven in total defense, meaning there are only five teams performing more poorly. The truth for this team is that its defense regularly gives up an average of three hundred ninety-one yards per game and a whopping twenty-five and one half points per game.
Quarterback Derek Carr and his talented wide receivers that includes rookie first round pick Amari Cooper, have to score an average of four touchdowns every game just to have a chance to win. That is a lot of pressure to put on a young and developing quarterback and it helps to explains why the Oakland Raiders have a Won-Loss record of just 5-6 and are in third place in the West Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) behind the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs.
Oakland can score points in bunches and its defense seems to be always unable to keep an opposing offense out of the end zone. Given all that, the Raiders still have “a puncher’s chance” to make it to the postseason if teams above them lose a couple of games and they win at least four of the five games remaining to be played.
But those victories will not materialize if the team’s foes pass for two hundred eighty-two yards per game and gobble up nearly six yards every time they touch the ball, averages that have plagued the Raiders up to this point in the season. Oakland’s defensive players need to “pick up their collective game” and play better than they have through the first eleven games.
It may be a tall order and it may be “too much to ask for,” but this squad has a chance, a real chance, to continue playing in January. It would be great for the players if it happens, great for this team’s long-suffering fans and great for the city of Oakland. Veteran defensive back Charles Woodson believes they have what it takes to sneak into the playoffs.
It would even be great for the NFL because it would mean that the famed “silver and black” have once again become viable and a team to respect and fear.
Courtesy of Goldengatesports.com