Allen playing cards close to the vest approaching season opener
The Raiders went 4-12 in Dennis Allen's rookie season as head coach and enter his second year after a 1-3 preseason. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
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If there has been good news from the Oakland Raiders this summer, it has largely been withheld from public view -- which is why the team is painfully overdue for a pleasant surprise.
Well, okay. A not-so-unpleasant surprise. Let’s not lose all perspective here.
Nearly everything about this offseason has been like last season -- an almost unremitting stream of news that has run the gamut from “meh” to “oh hell.” Even the one thing that seems to excite folks -- Terrelle Pryor -- comes at the cost of the most expensive offseason get -- Matt Flynn.
[NEWS: Pryor to be Raiders starting QB]
And everyone who pays attention agrees this will be a very difficult, painful and potentially job-eviscerating season.
So where’s the upside until the actual upside? Is there no alternative to a happy 2014 but a horrifying 2013? When exactly do the people who care about this team get something other than a lint-covered candy bar?
In other words, what could go right? And how exactly do you define “right” without being blood-tested hourly?
Well, it rests with you, and your ability to fully comprehend how much of a loss leader this season will be. Pryor will frustrate more than he invigorates because he cannot single-handedly solve all the issues that beset the team. He cannot, for example, play defense. And Darren McFadden will mostly scare you to death wondering if (or just as likely, when) he will get hurt again. And so it goes through the roster, a transitional team until the new one can be fully assembled a draft or two down the road.
And who will assemble those drafts? General manager Reggie McKenzie, whose first job is keeping Mark Davis’ trust? Or Dennis Allen, who still needs to figure new ways to break normal coach programming other than exchanging Flynn for Pryor?
No, the biggest alteration will have to be with the fan base, and learning how to zen an entire football season. Football is the sport that makes for the least patient fan base, which means that Raider fans need to be most patient of all. Only Detroit has won fewer regular season games in the last decade, and only Buffalo and Cleveland have been watching the postseason longer, so you think you’ve been patient. But you haven’t. What you’ve done is grouse that it isn’t better, and you are great at grousing. Patience is another thing entirely.
Patience is in knowing the truth and accepting it until the data changes, as opposed to screaming that Al Davis was the problem or Al Davis was the solution and hating whomever the quarterback was at the time.
The wins will be few and must be enjoyed as you would enjoy finding a five-dollar bill in the dryer. The losses will be many and the ones that aren’t excruciating will be hilarious. And finally, the future is utterly unknown. This is not yet the team you will find happiness in, but the team between the one you hated and the one you might like later.
Essentially, you’ll have to become a different kind of NFL fan -- the kind for whom the results are secondary to the process, and the tailgating, and if the Raiders are really going to be worth your while, the odd bet. They may only have won 30 percent of the time since the last Super Bowl, but they are a .400 team against the line.
Hey, you’re zen-ning 2013, remember? It won’t be easy, and you may put some bite marks in the odd coffee table, but if you want the Raiders to treat you right, first you have to treat yourself.
Oh, and beer helps, too.