After a week one win, on Monday night, against a division rival, the Raiders and the Raider Nation were flying high. The opening game curse was broken, the Prime Time curse was broken, Hue Jackson was 1-0 as a head coach, and the Raiders were back. Week 2 has brought everyone back down to earth a little. Welcome to the first, but probably not last time the Raiders have to look in the mirror and decide what kind of team they are going to be this year.
Hue Jackson had a lot of time this off-season to say what he wanted to say. Get his message across to everyone. The time for talk, however, is now in the past. This is a different Raiders team under Hue Jackson, but one win on Monday Night Football is not going to convince anyone. He has to get his persona to show through his players. That’s what good coaches do. Rex Ryan is able to get his attitude to show through his players on the field. Bill Belichick is able to get his players to always be right mentally. Mike Tomlin has his players always playing with a nasty edge. Hue Jackson says he is “building a bully” so he has to find a way to get that attitude to show through his players on Sunday or it’s just words. Gut check coach Hue Jackson, bullies get even.
The offense is playing with the “next man up” philosophy and have been impressive. Jason Campbell is playing his best football as a pro, making good decisions, trusting in his guys, being a leader, and most importantly throwing the ball well. Don’t forget that just about all his weapons on offense have been out at some point too. Darren McFadden, broken orbital bone. Michael Bush, not signed right away and arrived at training camp late. Jacoby Ford, broken hand and now out with hamstring injury. Louis Murphy, sports hernia surgery. Darrius Heyward-Bey, had a mysterious injury to start camp, and now has a knee injury. Chaz Schilens, suffered a knee injury in preseason. Kevin Boss, has a sprained MCL. Taiwan Jones, had hamstring issues that kept him out most of camp.
With all that going on Campbell has led this team and has played pretty well. That is a tremendous positive and should not be overlooked. The offense did what they had to do Sunday versus the Bills only to come away with a loss. The defenses will only get tougher the more film there is and the surprise factor is gone. Now the Raiders have to find a way to keep scoring and not start to breakdown like in years past. Gut check time offense, after putting up 35 in a losing effort, will you follow it up or take a step back?
The defense had a stats party week one. They shut down the run, had 5 sacks, they were creating turnovers, their blitzes were getting home and they felt invincible. That feeling carried over into the Bills game as well. At least for the first half. Then came one of the biggest drop offs on defense in recent memory. The Bills had the ball five times in the second half and scored five touchdowns. The Raiders had no answer. They had opportunities just like in week one, but this time, they didn’t cash in. They couldn’t get anything to go right, and at the end of the game they were left thinking to themselves “What just happened?” IT’S GUT CHECK TIME! The kind of games like the one last Sunday defines teams. They can accept that they were exposed or take it personally and make it right.
Winning is easy; losing teaches you about yourself.