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The 2018 Oakland Raiders are a total tire fire and I love it

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When ‘better than you are’ is all you got.

Oakland Raiders v San Diego Chargers Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images

As a young Broncos fan in Denver during the 80’s and 90’s, everyone knew that it wasn’t enough to root for the Broncos, but to root for the Raiders to lose as well... always and for all time. Needless to say, the Raiders 2018 season gives me great hope for ineptitude for years to come.

Raiders fans will tell you that jettisoning Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack for 1st round picks was a shrewd move. I still can’t believe that Jerry Jones gave up a 1st for Cooper, but that’s on Dallas and the subject of a separate article entirely. For a couple weeks before the trade deadline, it was reported that pretty much anyone could be had. Heck, articles popped up saying that Derek Carr could be on his way out for the right price.

You have to wonder what affect personnel moves and rumors have had on the franchise. What’s it like for a player on a team who gives up on the season before leaves fall? It’s clear that Jon Gruden is playing the long game in his approach building HIS team, but what does that mean for players who only have a precious few years? Put yourself in their shoes. I’d be furious, resentful, and borderline hateful for what Gruden is doing. What about their fans? With maybe one more year in the Bay Area, can you imagine what it must be like? Not only is their team ‘peace-out’ on them, but they don’t even have the want to not embarrass themselves from week to week... and for what? A draft pick a slot higher than the Giants? It’s nuts.

It’s remarkable that the Raiders didn’t learn their lesson when they went back to the well and rehired Art Shell as head coach back in 2006. Signing Jon Gruden to a 10-year contract was perhaps the most amazingly thing I’ve ever witnessed in professional sports, and not in a good way. For contrast, the greatest coach in Raiders history was John Madden who coached for... 10 years. The expectations are insanely high for a guy who did not a whole lot in Tampa (without Tony Dungy’s team).

So let’s talk expectations. Remember just a few short months ago when pundits were predicting that Oakland was going to win the AFC West, the AFC, and possibly contend for a Super Bowl? As soon as things got tough and those scenarios came into question, the second coming of John Madden didn’t hesitate to pull up stakes and start playing for next season. With no pressure to win now, why power through and lead when cowering over first round picks provides adequate cover? Shoot, a substantial percentage of Raiders fans aren’t just content with quitting on the season, they’re in full support.

...but here’s what’s wrong with that...

Marshawn Lynch, Bruce Irvin, Amare Cooper, Khalil Mack, and Marquette King (okay, maybe that’s not a big loss) among others are all gone next season. Mack and Cooper generated 1st round picks in return. In order to get back to just where they were before the season (forget the projections of confetti-level success), they have to either hit home runs on those picks or have incredible success in free agency.

Aha! Says the Raiders fan reading this right now. “Look at all the salary cap space we have! We can sign anyone!”

With no cornerstones on the team other than Derek Carr (assuming they don’t trade him in the offseason) left, who in their right mind would sign with the Raiders? In order to attract talent, they’re going to have to overpay to lure anyone over. Further, in only the second year of a 10-year contract, who’s to say that Gruden won’t quit competing again next year if things get tough?

Stay tuned Broncos fans. Hate-watching the Raiders is going to be fun for years to come.

HORSE TRACKS

Mason's Mailbag: Promise must become performance
Also included: a look at whether an easier division really helps a team become a Super Bowl winner. The answer might surprise you.

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