Is Derek Carr the equivalent of Steph Curry (I’ll give you a moment to answer with an emphatic “NO!”), of course not. Even in his rookie year Curry was hitting triple doubles and in the running for rookie of the year. But with a commitment to building through the draft, a defense minded coach, and a fan base that is once again flexing its vocal muscles in the national conversation (don’t ask where the Raiders fans have been the last few years, I haven’t run into very many), the Commitment to Excellence is once again starting to almost begin to consider ringing true for the Oakland Scoundrels (I mean Raiders).
Carr’s got an arm, sure, and he seems to be grasping how to play the game at a pro level. Will he ever be able to do the football equivalent of crossing up one of the best defenders in the NBA so bad he falls on his ass? Probably not.
But we can hope.
What the Warriors Championship (and it was a long deserved one) means to the Raiders fanbase is that nothing is out of reach, even when it feels like forever since you’ve even glimpsed the number 500.
The Raiders have had two 8-8 seasons since the three year Division Champ run that culminated in an embarrassing home state Superbowl loss to a coach one year removed from building our entire team, and they missed the playoffs both of those years. And trust me, the “what the fuck?” hangover has not gone away from that Jon Gruden ass reaming.
Oakland has a tough schedule, in the first five weeks facing three teams (Bengals, Ravens and Broncos) that have won at least ten games nine times (collectively) in the past four years. Say what you will about the downfall of the Bengals, week one will be a decisive matchup in the Sisyphean (Sisyphish? Sisyphetian?) trek to mediocrity the Raiders are to embark on this season.
The focus of this season shouldn’t be how many games the Raiders actually win (although I’d bet even money they win more than the Forty-Whiners), but on how they measure up against the tougher teams they’ll be playing. Can 2014’s 21st ranked defense slow down the True King of the North Aaron Rodgers and his merry band of men when the hordes of Green Bay march into the Bay Area? Can the young duo of Carr and Amari Cooper score enough to go tit for tat with Matt Stafford and his Cybertron bred receivers? Can Khalil Mack and Justin Tuck match the fire in Phillip Rivers’ eyes when it’s time to decide who the alpha male of the AFC West is?
With the AFC North and the NFC North on the Raiders schedule, the Oakland boys definitely have their work cut out for them, much like the Golden State Warriors had on their way through an insurmountable Western Conference on their way to the Finals and a championship. Losses in the last two years to the Spurs and the Clippers in the playoffs were as much a part of the Warriors journey as the wins this last year, and those bitter defeats are just what the Raiders need to light the fire under their collective asses.
The problem is, for a defeat to be bitter it needs to mean something in the grand scheme of the playoff picture. Whether it’s a play in game to make the postseason, or a road trip into the Conference Champion’s house against a tough crowd and a talented and hungry team, you gotta get there before you can win it. Being statistically eliminated from the postseason in week 10 doesn’t really allow the end of the season to mean anything.
So much props to the Golden State Warriors, it’s been a long, tough, heartbreaking journey through coaches and players and we believe’s. If only the Raiders can do something similar in the next five…ten…twenty…sometime before I die…