The Raiders have a bye this week. Every season, the bye week's three football games in a row with no Raiders becomes more and more of an existential crisis. Up until a few years ago I could use it to make the wife believe that the pecking order went Raiders>wife>football instead of Raiders>football>wife. But now she surfs every weekend and doesn't give a flying fuck what I'm doing with my Sunday afternoons. So I am resigned to currently trying not to be pessimistic about fantasy football while I wait around for another hour to hate on the Niners. Yay.
It is mandatory that a football team and it's fans get deeply reflective during the bye week. Because there ain't shit else to do. The loss to Kansas City was enough of a microcosm of the Raiders' season thus far to make it completely redundant to analyze them both separately. The Raiders are who we somewhat realistically hoped they may be, except with an offensive line which varies in it's degree of NFL-acceptability week-to-week depending on who's healthy enough to suit up. When second-string center Andre Gurode and RT Tony Pashos, who we signed off the street after cutting Alex Barron, went down, it was a done deal. That is not something that you will overcome as a football team, especially in Arrowhead.
Naturally, Terrelle Pryor played as if there was a playoff berth at risk instead of just his own personal safety. After the game, he insisted that the Raiders will make the playoffs this season. I would have to respectfully disagree with him on that one. But it's looking more and more like that prediction may prove to only be off by a year. Hopefully at this time next season the concept of a good loss will have been forgotten about. But last week, I'm not sure if my feet touched the ground when I made a halftime beer run. The final score and stats were perfectly representative of the offensive line we ended up having on the field for most of the day. But in the first half, we were the better team.
Going into the year it appeared as if Dennis Allen's future was in Reggie McKenzie's hands, and it didn't look promising. But at this point it feels like Allen is the one carrying Reggie on his back. The team looks better than it should. Any sideways glances the fans have toward the staff are being cast further upstairs than the field. If nobody out of Sio Moore, DJ Hayden or Menelik Watson impresses before the end of the year, the question of who should be picking our players becomes far more valid than who should be coaching them. I will even go so far as to say if anybody other than Dennis Allen is coaching this team next year, I will be pissed.
Personnel wise, Sebastian Janikowski is probably our biggest concern right now. An early-season rough patch is not something we haven't seen from him before. But coming up short on a 50 yarder in good conditions, as happened last week- THAT is a new development. And we already gave him a contract extension at the beginning of the year, of course. Denarius Moore also continues to be an interesting case, generally looking like simultaneously our only NFL-caliber receiver as well as the guy most likely to wimp out over the middle or have a catchable ball bounce off his shoulder pads.
It's really anyone's guess what the rest of the season will bring. Again, I'm not cosigning on Pryor's prediction of playoffs, but we do play the NFC East this year, so anything is possible. It's very strange to look ahead to the rest of the season as a satisfied fan of a 2-4 team. "Man, I hope they don't screw up that .333 winning percentage!" As ultimately practical as it still probably is, when you're happy with your QB and head coach it's difficult to subscribe to the #loseforclowney school of thought. And given what we were staring down in late August, that is no small accomplishment.