Mark Davis takes full responsibility for the Raiders advancing regression. He also apologizes to the fans for whats happened, and feels as bad as they do.
And the Raiders are still going to have to do extraordinary work between now and seasons end to be better than 4-12. Feel better anyway?
Davis emerged from a postgame meeting inside Dennis Allens office, where he, the coach and general manager Reggie McKenzie shared their level of torqued-off-i-tude after watching the employees lay inert for a 38-17 beating by the New Orleans Saints. They looked lifeless, overmatched, confused and generally . . . well, generally Raiderrific.
But its the third straight week in which theyve looked that way. Since beating the horrific Jacksonvilles and Kansas Citys, they have given up a laughable 135 points, 56 in the third quarter alone when all the vaunted coaching adjustments are supposed to be distributed and put into action.
And after the usual nonsensical platitudes from Allen about all I know is how to work, and we have to keep grinding and working to get better, the message from the Coliseum was that this was a team that had either seen the future and vomited all over it, was outmatched, or just plain decided to mail in the holiday season.
Thus, when Davis came out of the postgame grouse-a-thon, a starved media corps surrounded him. Most of the players had left or decided not to speak, probably at the behest of the brain trust. Nothing good could be said, so they didnt say it. Lots of more work and continue to try to improve and other empty phrases that clearly mean nothing, given the results.
And Davis, who does not have his fathers gift for scaring people away with a single snarl, a single profanity, or a single bodyguard, decided to interpose his body between the outside world and the beleaguered employees. He sensed, or we suspect he had thrust upon him the sense, that someone had to say something about this developing mudslide.
So he did. Maybe it helped. For a bit, anyway.
As Ive said before, I didnt think we had a Super Bowl team, but you cant blame this on the new front office or the salary cap, he said, rejecting the obvious alibi offerings. You have coaches and you have players, and you have to play. We have to be Raiders.
But it clearly wont be done by Allen, or McKenzie for that matter certainly not in the middle of the slop-storm. And the players who might, most notably Tommy Kelly, are battening down their larynxes.
Not that they are required to do so, mind you. But the audience is already starting to hate the new cast because the team is considerably worse than the last few. Darren McFadden is hurt for the every-yearth-in-a-row time, the passing game is more shambolic every week to the point where the fans are now reflexively booing Carson Palmer, the receivers are clearly worse, and the defense which was momentarily tolerable has now returned to its spider-hole near the earths crust.
In short, the roster is broken, the new coaches havent gotten through to it, injuries seem to be a growing fallback position, and in general this team looks like its ready to take that dive, and start over in 2013.
Now everyone at once, in the key of L: Happy Holidays . . .
Rebuilding? I dont know what the word would be, Davis said when asked what he expected from this team. I know that we didnt have the talent, at the beginning of the year, to be a Super Bowl team. I thought that we had definitely potential to get maybe in the playoffs and beat in our division. Obviously that hasnt happened. Im not happy. But nobody in this room is.
And when he was asked if there was a way to save the season, he chose not to be Johnny Happy Face.
(Were going to) take it game by game, but uh, I dont know. I know theyre gonna fight.
Its just the results of the game. You win or lose. We havent been winning and it hasnt been close the last 3 weeks. I couldnt put (his frustration level) on a 1-to-10. Im not happy, Ill put it that way, but why should I be? Why should we be? Why should anyone in this room be? But theyll fight and fix it.
Or . . .
Like I say, Im patient. Im patient. But I want to see progress. I dont want to see regression. Nobody does. And thats why Im unhappy today. But as far as a pass, I wouldnt call it a pass. Theyve got contracts, theyre gonna be here.
Then he shared the news that hed had back surgery five months earlier to remove a cyst (or a tumor, he wasnt sure which), and in describing it, he really articulated the state of his team in ways that fan apologies and devotion to work ethic and being a Raider never really could.
I had a sciatic nerve problem, a pain in my ass, he said. And I had surgery five months ago, and it didnt fix it. And then so they took pictures again, they found a big cyst-tumor, right on the sciatic nerve. So Im feeling a lot better. Its not totally healed yet, (but) January 1 I can start working out (patting his stomach). The triplets go away then. I deliver. But again, its a sad day today, the last three weeks have been sad, but were gonna fight. Thats what it is. And well see what happens.
If only his other and more chronic gluteal issue was as easy to repair.