Faith in Raiders needs work

Despite reports of Art Shell's imminent demise, he is calling for faith – both from the fans and perhaps from the Oakland Raiders front office.

But clearly this will not be a Merry Christmas. The Holiday sales season likely didn't include much Raiders gear. Opting for the new iPod instead of a Moss jersey probably was a smart decision.

Suffering through the worst season in 45 years, the Black Hole has had its resiliency tested.

"We are as disappointed as they are," Shell said. "We don't go out to try and lose games. We work very hard to give the fans what they want and what they need and just haven't gotten that done. The majority of fans will keep the faith."

The problem has been basic fundamentals of winning football.

The dumbest coaches in the world understand that the key elements of success revolve around a core of traits: don't turn the ball over, run the football, limit penalties, score touchdowns when in the red zone, convert third downs, and play solid on special teams.

The Raiders have been lucky to accomplish one of those tasks on any given Sunday.

"We've been working all year to try and get everyone on the same page," said tackle Robert Gallery.

"We just can't do the things we do – turn the ball over – and expect to win," added Shell.

Expecting to win is also a prerequisite. Playoff teams will tell you just that.

"Too many field goals," Shell said. "When you get in the red zone you have to score touchdowns otherwise it will come back to bite you and it did.

"We moved the ball but still couldn't get it in the end zone and that hurts."

The only phase of the game that triggered a semblance of positives was the running game. Justin Fargas ran well behind a line that could barely open a screen door in previous weeks.

"We got a chance to run the ball and saw we had some success," said Shell. "Justin was running real hard and guys up front were giving us creases to run in."

But that wasn't enough. Turning the ball over four times and going 0-for-2 in the red zone will do that to a team. The NFL is based on ball control and scoring when the rare opportunity presents itself. The Raiders have done little of either.


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