Making a promise is one thing. Following up on that promise is something entirely different.
One is far easier than the other.
For the 2016 Oakland Raiders, the opportunity to emerge out of the Denver Broncos shadow is right now. Yes, those very same Denver Broncos who won the previous five division crowns and a little something called the Super Bowl in February.
For all of his glory, Al Davis prior to his passing made head scratching moves that utterly halted his once world famous football teams growth. Following in his fathers footsteps, Mark Davis hopes to be the ring leader in repositioning the Oakland Raiders back to their perennial powerhouse status they once held.
Oakland fans aren’t really comparable to Packer, Cowboy, Patriot or Steeler fans. Their style is unique all their own. Face paint, body armor only previously donned by various members of the band Kiss, plus the occasional Darth Vader mask add a certain level of fear when playing in “The Black Hole”.
Regardless of camaraderie, the O.co Colosseum has seen better years in terms of on field performances. However, in the last two seasons an injection of youth, new veteran faces and an entirely new coaching staff has given many fans a reason to believe in their bay side football team.
With names like Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Bruce Irving, Latavius Murray and Sean Smith all poised to make instant impacts, the sky remains the limit. Well, that’s the promise at least.
What may eventually derail the hopes of a second coming dynasty in Oakland is simply, the kids don’t live up to their potential.
That being said Oakland may still have a few holes to patch, development is no hole. In first season of the Carr/Mack era, the Raiders posted an uninspiring 3-13 record, finishing last in their division. 2015 saw a noticeable swing in performance, finishing the year 7-9 and third in their division behind the Chiefs and Broncos.
Obviously, the tide is beginning to change in the bay.
Denver has no quarterback in their arsenal from last season, leaving Kansas City, in my mind, as Oakland’s biggest threat in 2016. While it can be argued that Oakland’s deal breaker is their youth. Winning in both Denver and Kansas City is far from your leisurely Sunday stroll through the park. It’s not outside the realm of reason to think Oakland can split the season series with both teams, but in order to win a division title you’ll need to win on the road.
Hell, even the Jets beat New England last year. So let’s not rule anything out here.
Derek Carr offers something to the Raiders offense that they haven’t had since Rich Gannon. Stability. The jury is still out on whether or not Carr is the next Kenny Stabler, but considering his portfolio is only two seasons old, and management bulking up for the upcoming season, perhaps it’s time to believe again. Don’t forget Carr and Cooper has the potential to become the next Brady and Moss connection. Call me crazy, but just watch.
Now, if history is any indicator to what is to come, then Oakland will take another notable step forward in production. 8-8 or 9-7 feels respectable. A wild card game for sure may be the only thing this team needs. Feeling good in camp is fantastic, but everyone does that. Believing in that you can win is a motivator like none other.
Just get into the big dance and work everything out later. After all, in order to win a Super Bowl in the next two years, you’ll have to go through New England.
So Oakland, your time will come once Brady calls it career.