D'ADAMO: The uninspired play of the Raiders

Instead of being "the dumbest team in America" as former head coach Bill Callahan suggested last season, the Oakland Raiders could certainly pass for the "most uninspired team in America" in Sunday's 42-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers.

In fact, the "Q" word, as in "quit," has been used recently at times in association with the Oakland Raiders. Is it warranted? Maybe or then again maybe not because even the worst teams in the world have individual players that are constantly giving maximum effort and the Raiders are no different. Plus, how does one quantify the term? It's easy tell if a player "loses a step" because his 40-yard dash time might be slower. It's also easier to tell if a player is not as strong because he might not be able to bench press as much.

How does one really quantify, however, the effort one puts out? Nonetheless, we can safely say that the Raiders played with zero urgency, once they took the field, in a game that they absolutely had to win against a division rival if they had even a modicum of hope to make the playoffs.

In the Oakland locker room heading into the game, there were sheets of paper that read: "11-5. Nobody says we can't win nine straight." That could have conceivably happened but it won't.

Anyhow, I digress. So, let's get back to the whole matter of the Raiders looking uninspired because that's the term they should have attached to them. How else do you explain not getting up for a division rival, home or road, in a game the team absolutely needed to win? It's not like the Raiders lifeless performance as a team Sunday was an aberration either. They looked equally lethargic two weeks ago when losing 31-3 to the Denver Broncos.

When the Raiders hired Norv Turner to replace Bill Callahan after the franchise went 4-12, they cleaned house with new players and coaches. In the process, they told everyone who would listen that the team would be better and that it had something to prove.

As of now, the only thing Oakland has proven is that it is no better a team than it was a year ago. It's hard to imagine it getting any better because the team is lacking leadership within the locker-room.

Again, there are leaders by example and ones that are vocal. Each type of leader has its place. The Raiders have their share of leaders by example that are generally well-liked but lack one that can truly galvanize the team in difficult times like say, a Bill Romanowski, Lincoln Kennedy, Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, Rod Woodson. Well, the list continues.

Look no further than the fact that the Raiders have lost their last 13 road games. Cornerback Charles Woodson is one of the team's senior members but you wonder if he is too focused on his contract situation. Defensive tackle Warren Sapp might be the closest thing to a leader as evidenced by his sideline ranting to Turner during Sunday's game. However, can anyone take Sapp very seriously when he records only 0.5 quarterback sacks?

Safety Ray Buchanan is enough of a high-character guy to be respected but his play has been inconsistent.

The Raiders lack of inspiration is about the only constant lately.

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

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