Raiders struggle but don't quit

At times, the 2003 Oakland Raiders have been compared to the 1997 team.

That comparison largely holds true but with perhaps a couple of exceptions.

The latter went 4-12 while the current Oakland squad enters Sunday with a 3-8 record and virtually eliminated from the AFC playoff chase. The last 8-8 teams to qualify for the playoffs were Dallas and Detroit, both in 1999.

The current team, which faces Denver Sunday at home, is also similar to the 1997 team in that there has been discussion of the head coach losing control of the team. That is true but only to a point. In 1997, the Raiders lost five games by 14 points or more. Opponents also routinely used the dreaded "Q" word to describe the Raiders effort. Yes, that word is "quit." Head coach Joe Bugel did not last beyond that season.

Cornerback Charles Woodson called out current head coach Bill Callahan for "not listening to the veteran players." Woodson added that Callahan has lost control of the team and that he was speaking for other members of the team.

Will Callahan last beyond this season after leading the Raiders to an AFC Championship last year? It's not a good idea to make any bets that he will but this Raider team is more characterized by injuries and making just enough mistakes to lose.

Oakland has had nine players placed on injured reserve and has lost just one game by more than 10 points, 31-10 to Denver in Week 3. Of those nine players placed on injured reserve, six were either starters or key players. That list excludes Marques Tuiasosopo, who was the No. 2 quarterback.

Granted, every team has injuries but very few clubs will win regularly with its No. 3 quarterback. Plus, Bugel did not have near the amount of injuries to deal with as Callahan. Has Callahan lost control of the team as Woodson suggested? That might be open for discussion but unlike the 1997 team, the current club plays hard even with the playoffs out of reach but makes enough mistakes to get beat.

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


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