J. Burroughs is back and has a warning for Raiders fans: there are reasons to be optimistic but the Nation shouldn’t set itself up for a fall too soon.
Rewind to last week: talk of a possible hold out by rookie running back Josh Jacobs had Raider Nation in one of its trademark tizzies.
On one side (as Raiders fans are the epitome of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde), you had the “don’t worry, they’ll get it done” crowd. You know, the same group who said that about a former defensive player that wore No. 52 a few years ago in Oakland would be back before the 2018 season started.
On the other side, you had the sky is falling fans. They were certain it was yet another bad omen in this mostly 17-year run of misery for the fans of the silver and black.
I can really understand both sides but Raider Nation needs to get a grip and get it fast.
Yes, it’s been a long time since the Raiders were relevant on the national scene. They had 2016 and it appeared the long nightmare was over. Then came the injury to Derek Carr, derailing what might have been an exciting playoff run, and the dysfunction of former coach Jack Del Rio’s last year. The malaise was back and the hiring of Jon Gruden had fans riding high as “Chucky” was back and so too were the rose-colored glasses.
It’s a good time (I know, how many times have we heard that before?) to be a Raiders fan. Las Vegas is less than a year away, the team is getting better, there is stability in the front office and with the coaching staff. Optimism should be high.
But how high is too high?
By looking at conversations in social media, it might be a bit too high. A confession: I am a lurker, mostly, in social media. My editors here give me grief for my inactivity on Twitter but I’m always watching.
What I’ve seen are a lot of unrealistic expectations. Fans saying this team will go 9-7 or 10-6. That’s dangerous daydreaming people. With the schedule the Raiders are facing, fans would be wise to look for improvements in all aspects of the game but that might not be recognizable always in wins. Although professional football is about wins and losses, when a team is in a rebuild, you need to tread lightly.
That doesn’t mean it is impossible. Teams have magical runs and the ball bounces their way. Could the Raiders be 10-6 and make the playoffs? It could happen, but it’s a long shot.
The purpose of this column isn’t to be a downer. To the contrary. Even though the national narrative around the Raiders, Gruden, and Mayock continues to be negative, I believe bright days are ahead. But there will be dark days too. Just be careful Raider Nation.
We’re not at the point yet where, as a staff, we’re making win/loss predictions , but I believe you’ll see the Raiders (and, yes, Carr) make great strides this season. Yet fans need to be realistic and know it’s going to be one step forward, two steps back at times.
Embrace the process and growth. Don’t get too high and don’t get too down when the wheels occasionally fall off.
As long as they beat the Broncos and Chiefs, I’ll be a happy dude.