Before the Oakland Raiders headed to San Diego, the locker-room included sheets of paper that said, "11-5. Nobody says we can't win nine straight." Well, what took place Sunday was a 42-14 debacle of a loss to the Chargers.
The Raiders enter Sunday's road game against the Carolina Panthers with a 2-6 record, same as last year at the same point. The Raiders would have to win eight consecutive games to go 10-6, which gives a team about a 95 percent chance to make the playoffs. Oakland would have to win seven or eight games to go 9-7, a record that gives a team about a 60 percent chance at the playoffs.
Yes, the NFL is a prime example of the notion "you never know." However, seriously, have the Raiders done anything to lead one to believe they have such a run in them? The injuries continue, the losses are not helping team morale, and the team does not appear to have the goods to make a viable playoff run. The schedule gets no easier and a last place finish is entirely possible.
It should be more apparent now than ever, that the Raiders are not playing for a playoff spot this season. However, they have to play the last eight games anyhow so why not set more realistic goals. Seriously, is there much difference between 5-11 and perhaps 3-13?
Oakland needs to finish this season with a clearer idea of who among the current young players can contribute to a championship team in the future. Taking a rebuilding effort approach can be a bitter pill to swallow but it clearly makes sense even though the Raiders have never been a franchise to take that approach.
Owner Al Davis has openly stated that such a term never exists in his vocabulary the truth of the matter is that Raiders head coach Norv Turner, who replaced Bill Callahan, needs to commit himself toward developing the younger players.
The Raiders, most notably need to find a go-to receiver now that Tim Brown and Jerry Rice are both gone. Jerry Porter would seem like the logical choice but so far has not taken the reigns of that role. Porter is not helping his cause by opening saying that he plans to void the last year of his contract, thus buying his way out of Oakland.
When Norv Turner replaced Callahan, now the University of Nebraska head coach; much was made how the Raiders would emphasize running the football. Only Miami and Detroit are averaging fewer yards rushing per game. It would behoove the Raiders to find one running back and commit to him.
It would also help if Oakland played with more discipline so it can get that elusive road win, something that has not come in 14 games and 23 months.
When the Raiders hired Rob Ryan as their defensive coordinator, much was made about how the team would be able to mix up its packages and be more aggressive. The problem is that the defense is not appreciably better than it was last season. It might be more prudent to simplify the defense so they can find something that works and stick with it.
The bottom line is that the team needs to be honest with itself and revise its goals so as to have something positive to establish and not another rancid 4-12 season like 2003.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at email@example.com