Season begins anew for Raiders

November 10, 2011, 8:05 pm
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The great thing about the NFL -- if there is one -- is that your highs and lows come hard and fast and dont linger long. There are too few games and too much time between to chew on them.

Enter the Raiders, the leagues most pronounced case of short attention span.

Three weeks ago, Al Davis died, and the team rose up and slapped Houston a good one the next day to go to 3-2. Then Hue Jackson promoted himself from living on the edge to being the guy holding the razor by trading for Carson Palmer, and the people who have endured the Raiders in all their madness suddenly were freed of their burdens.

And then it went to hell again. Hey, what did you expect?

RELATED: Midseason review: Offense

Well, you expected better, is what. You liked the new car in the garage, and you laughed at the competition and your lungs were filled with the incense from the Flame of Al behind the center field stands.

You did not expect them to get crushed by Kansas City, or rush Palmer into action before he was prepared. You did not expect them to fail High School Defense 101 by declining to tackle either Tim Tebow or Willis McGahee. You didnt expect them to retreat back to their old penalty-sodden ways.

And you didnt expect Jackson to go from charming chatterbox to hyperactive gabbler. Which is how it works when you talk and lose rather than talk and win.

Thus, we can now say that the Raiders season has started anew. And not for the better.

RELATED: Midseason review: Defense

Five of their next seven games are on the road, and of the final eight, six are against teams that either have winning records or are breaking even; only Minnesota and Miami, both on the road, are even considering the We Blew For Andrew Sweepstakes.

Next is the matter of Darren McFadden, whose troublesome foot has cost him the last two games and may in fact cost him the next two as well. McFadden is -- with all due acknowledgement of Palmers arrival and his immediate linkage with Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore -- the reason to fear the Raiders' offense. He and he alone changes defenses, and without him, the Raiders are pretty one-dimensional.

Palmer is next, and he has shown signs of having all the arm he had in his best days. He also has shown signs of being erratic, although some of that can be blamed on his unfamiliarity with his targets. One can safely assume he will improve, though without McFadden it is hard to tell how much better the offense will be.

RELATED: Midseason review: Special teams

There is also the defense, which is suddenly a great vulnerability again -- tackle-deficient, penalty-laden, blown-coverage-festooned. So profound were the failures against Denver that it has all come back into question again, and defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan has to repair what seemed to have already been fixed with tougher opponents looming on the horizon.

And finally, there is Jackson himself. His impetuousness was once charming, but now it seems quirky to the point of guesswork. Thats what happens when you fill a vacuum of leadership with yourself -- at least thats what we can say based on this unique situation in modern sports history. An owner who is completely invested in his team dies, leaves neither a plan for football succession or anyone to take it on -- happens all the time, right?

In any event, he lost and gained a quarterback, who in turn brought in a slot receiver, and then lost his best offensive player. He became a general manager on the fly, and acted on it with the same impetuousness that marked his coaching. Someone, maybe Jackson himself, will have to become the good angel on his right shoulder just as a check and balance.

All the good vibes the Raiders carried through Week 6 are now a convoluted mess, and nobody can predict with any certainty what lies ahead. In short, its the good old days, just in a different set of clothes.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for

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