As we prepare for the 2011 NFL season to begin, we must put to rest all the discussion of 2010. It was an intense season of change for the Raiders, and after the smoke cleared, many questions were answered for this football team.
Going into 2010 we still had Jamarcus at camp. We had a head coach who hadn’t spoken with the owner/GM in months, nor would he. We had running backs who fumbled and receivers who dropped (well, we still have that…). We had a low ranking defense and a brand new free agent QB who was taking flack before he even took the field. I’ve only been a fan since 2009, so when the Raiders started the season I was just praying they wouldn’t get clobbered too bad.
When the Titans smashed Oakland in Week 1, a vast majority of fans got that all too familiar, “here we go again…” feeling. But wait! Weeks went by and passes started being caught, running backs started chewing up yards. Defenses got to shutting down the other side and started getting ahold of opposing QBs, with vicious results. The Raiders turned things around, and ended up with a 8-8 season, one to be proud of for a lesser franchise.
But for Raiders, nothing short of playoffs means a damn thing!So we must mark up the 2010 season as a failure. The team far exceeded my initial expectation of losing horribly yet again, as I’d become accustomed to under Jacarcass. So you’d think I would be happy for us. Instead, I look back and now realize that it was an opportunity lost.
It should have been a return to the playoffs for the Raiders, with a well paid and amazingly talented group. We had the best guys, the best coaching and the best plays on the field. And still ended up in third place. After seeing what Oakland is capable of on the field of battle, I will NEVER again expect anything less than FIRST place in our division. The Jamarcus era had me doubting, but now I see why Raider fans are utterly uncompromising in their commitment to winning. Al Davis pays well and has the best talent in our division. If they don’t win it, the only result is disgrace. There are no moral victories in pro football!
That said, it’s important to keep one concept clear: RAIDERS BEAT THE DIVISION IN 2010!
Oakland pulverized their AFC West opposition, and ground them into dust. The San Diego Chargers, perennial division favorites, were shocked when Raider special teams play demolished their advantages and Oakland defense ran them into the ground. Accustomed to easy wins in December, Raiders broke their streak and nearly broke their back. Their “MVP” quarterback was smacked right out of the running. Without the 2 wins they always used to get from Oakland, suddenly the Chargers didn’t look so scary. Now the spell is broken, the window is shut, and although they are a good team, the playing field is leveled. Raiders are no longer the underdog in this fight.
Denver Broncos with highly favored coach McDaniels and solid QB Kyle Orton were also shocked when a voracious Oakland offense simply bulldozed them into the turf, trampling them over and over to break their spirit and empty their stadium of all hope. Franchise high score for the Raiders, and a brutal end to the season for Denver. Oakland left town and the Bronco coach was fired, QB position has been left wobbling and the entire franchise had to be rebuilt from the ground up. Not just a defeat for Denver, but a total demolishing of everything they stand for!
Finally, the Kansas City Chiefs, cocky and loud on every message board, faced the brunt of Raider fury. At a sold out game in the Coliseum, Oakland’s finest fought to the bitter end, and standout plays by rookies and new players brought the fans to their feet. Raider legends were set in motion and this team proved that they have the silver and black in their blood. Previous teams would have caved under the pressure, but these Raiders pulled from deep within and won that game through sheer determination. And at the end of the season, they put a powerful hurtin’ on the Chiefs at Arrowhead, where the red filled stands were subjected to a non-stop sack-fest as the Raider D smashed Cassel in a coma. By the time the game was over the poor Chiefs franchise, already lackluster in accomplishment, was beaten, battered and blacked out. When the Ravens showed up, KC didn’t even put up a fight, their starters had already been trounced the week before and it showed. Raiders more than proved they were the superior team in every phase of the game.
Yes, Chiefs went to the playoffs. And for that they should be congratulated. But there can be no question whatsoever, among the four teams in the AFC West, RAIDERS were the best team in every way. They proved it by sweeping the division and making their rivals eat dirt game in and game out. Unfortunately that fury didn’t extend outside the division, but that’s meaningless. Oakland Raiders were the BEST in the west in 2010, and no argument can change that fact.
I use the analogy: Mike Tyson is heavyweight champ, and I beat his ass down twice in a row. Sure, he’s still the champ, but I’m the better fighter. And at the end of 2010, NO ONE can dare argue that Raiders weren’t the superior team in the AFC West. Therefore, going into 2011, I expect the Raiders to not only sweep the division all over again, but to take the division crown that was rightfully theirs!
In the end though, year in and year out, there is only one score. CHAMPIONSHIP. And that score will always determine who is the best franchise in the division, no matter when or where you want to ask that question. Until further notice, the score remains thus:
Raiders – 3
Broncos – 2
Chiefs – 1
Chargers – ZERO
Raiders are the greatest CHAMPION in the AFC West. So on we go into the 2011 season, where anything can happen. But I have my money on the Raiders….