Raiders need turnaround now

 

For the Oakland Raiders, Sunday's home game against the San Diego Chargers is "put up or shut up."

            That notion may sound harsh but quite frankly is true. The Raiders have gone 1-3 in their last three meaningful games since beating the Tennessee Titans 41-24 for the AFC Championship. Oakland has played poorly in all four contests.

            The good news for the Raiders, 1-2 in 2003, is that their next three games are against teams struggling as bad, or perhaps worse, than they are.

Oakland follows Sunday's home game against winless San Diego with road games at winless Chicago and 1-2 Cleveland. Granted, with the way the Raiders are playing, those games are not a slamdunk. But the opportunity to right the ship is squarely in front of them.

If the Raiders continue their struggles, and even worse lose, against a San Diego team that has been outscored by a combined 88-37, you have to wonder if they will be able to overcome that obstacle.

Oakland is two games behind Kansas City and Denver, both 3-0 teams. The Raiders host Kansas City in a Monday night contest one week after returning from Cleveland.

The Raiders have told everyone who will listen that the team has not been adversely affected by their 48-21 loss to Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl. Along those same lines, however, Oakland can no longer put up that front of denial. The fact remains that the Raiders have looked like, at best, a mediocre team the last four games.

While it may be unfair to put the onus on one player, Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon has to start conducting himself like a leader and not a tyrant. The lasting image of Monday's 31-10 loss to the Denver Broncos was Gannon berating the coaches late the contest.

To be fair, the Raiders' struggles certainly go beyond Gannon but the reigning MVP has not exactly been a calming force in time of crisis. Gannon, who has enjoyed four glorious seasons in Oakland, has never had a problem criticizing his teammates when they are not performing.

For that matter, Gannon has never had a problem admitting that he needs to perform better – when he has played well. Such as posting a completion percentage higher than 65 and having a TD-INT ratio of about 2.5-to-1.

Gannon, however, contradicted himself when he spoke Wednesday with reporters that "he has no problem with the way I'm playing." Let's see, the last two games, Gannon has completed less than half of his passes. Something does not jibe.

Again, Gannon is only a microcosm of the Raiders struggles.

Oakland is frankly lucky not to be 0-3 but the chance is right in front of them to right the ship. The Raiders are fully capable of winning their next three games, which would put them at 4-2 heading into a Monday night home game against Kansas City.

If Oakland loses Sunday against San Diego, the criticism will be fully warranted. Period. 

 Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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