Anyone who watched the game against the Texans last Saturday knows that it was possibly the ugliest win a team could have. It really was like Mr. Davis was working some miracle to control the scoreboard. Seeing the Raiders ahead at halftime after their complete failure to convert on 3rd down was mind-blowing. As usual, the team hurt itself with dumb penalties (*cough* Quentin Groves *cough*), but somehow, that ball ended up in Michael Huff’s hands at the end of the game.
That game is in the past, but after listening to Coach Hue Jackson’s post-game presser, there were a few things that stood out about what it meant to be a Raider and wear the Silver and Black. As most people say, Al Davis embodied what it was to be a Raider. He liked to win pretty, but mostly it was “Just win, baby!” Keep on playing until you win.
People are saying the next three games are important, but in reality it’s the next five weeks that are really going to matter. This Sunday the Raiders take on the Cleveland Browns. The last time the Raiders were over .500 this early in the season, they went to the Super Bowl. Cleveland is a .500 team, because they had their bye week last week. The Raiders are flying high from their win in Texas, but must face the rested Browns which could be a battle. Being home in front of a sold out crowd will give them a big edge over the Browns.
The following week the Raiders host the Kansas City Chiefs. There’s some unfinished business here as the Chiefs finished first in the division last season, but were swept by the Raiders. Kansas City has very little chance of winning this game, unless Oakland gets ahead of itself. As long as the Raiders keep their cool, they’ll sail into a bye week.
The bye week is crucial. Many of the injured players are returning to the active roster, but they’re still healing. Every time Mike Mitchell goes down, the hearts of the Raider Nation sink a bit. The bye week also gives them time to work on whatever needs some tweaking.
Coming out of the bye they face the Broncos at home. No one is sure what’s going on at Denver’s quarterback position, but one thing is for sure, they won’t be able to stop the run. The Raiders can expect a physical win over this team at home. The Broncos will likely give Tim Tebow and extended look as the starter. Whether Tebow’s run as started extends three weeks into the future we do not know.
Week 10 is the one that is so important in every Raider fan’s heart as well as in the standings. The Raiders head to San Diego to face the Chargers. The team has to travel downstate to face Rivers and his crew. In true San Diego fashion, they have started slowly, but by week 10 will have picked up steam and be looking to get some wins. Luckily for the Raiders the stadium will be half-packed with Silver and Black so they can count on the 12th man showing up even on the road.
This brings everything full circle to something Coach Jackson said at Sunday’s post-game presser that Mr. Davis told him: “Hue, don’t believe in plays, believe in players. That eventually your players will make plays for you.”
Mr. Davis gave innumerable players second chances: Lyle Alzado, Jim Plunkett, Howie Long and the list goes on. Davis believed in McFadden and Darrius Heyward-Bey, despite their lackluster first two seasons. The key to winning through the next five weeks and beyond is trusting the young players to get better as they gain more experience. Believing in players is essential to what it means to be silver and black and to “Just Win, Baby!”