The NFL season is almost upon us and with it, the typical slew of Oakland Raiders hate is pouring in from the media. There’s been negativity coming from all directions. A recent piece from The Athletic blasted Derek Carr and ESPN thinks the team’s offensive arsenal has somehow gotten worse.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion and Raiders fans are entitled to theirs. Unfortunately, the team’s supporters and analysts don’t have much leverage because of how awful the team has been for almost 20 years to this point. Until the Raiders field a consistent winner, it’s going to be hard push back against the media hate. However, Deadspin may have taken it too far with a recent piece absolutely trashing the Raiders.
Why Deadspin Is Dead Wrong About Trashing the Raiders
If you’re unfamiliar with Deadspin, they take a more stream of consciousness approach to their writing, meaning they take more of a reactionary approach. As part of Deadspin’s “Why Your Team Sucks” series, writer Drew Magary took aim at the Raiders:
“To aid Gruden in this decade-long vanity project, the Raiders hired Mike ‘THIS LIG’ Mayock to be GM. Together, Gruden and Mayock have frozen out the scouting department and will now mold the Raiders’ roster into something that resembles a mock draft held exclusively by a handpicked group of devoted Golic and Wingo listeners. The Raiders will fail, over and over, and at no point will Jon Gruden blame himself for these losses. He is a college coach now. He belongs at fucking Air Force.”
There are already a few things to unpack there. To say the Raiders “froze out” the scouting department is a ridiculous misreading of the situation. There was a change at general manager and Mike Mayock couldn’t trust the scouts from the old regime because they were already reportedly leaking information.
It makes complete sense as to why Mayock would want to bring in his own crew of scouts, especially considering the Raiders haven’t done a particularly great job of drafting in recent years. Magary’s comments on the roster are also ridiculous. Like them or hate them, Antonio Brown, Richie Incognito and Vontaze Burfict are all Pro Bowl-caliber talents.
It’s hard to argue with Magary on Jon Gruden as he has yet to prove that he can win in today’s NFL. He’s obviously being hyperbolic when he says that Gruden “belongs at f**king Air Force,” but it has been evident for a while that Gruden doesn’t get much love at Deadspin. It’s going to be up to him to prove he can field a winner. Until he does, it’s going to be very hard to defend him.
“If you haven’t figured it out by now, here’s a dirty little secret about Jon Gruden: he doesn’t WANT to have a successful quarterback,” continues Magary. “Jon Gruden fancies himself a guru, and he cannot guru you if you are competent and know what you’re doing out there. If you ARE capable, he’ll sabotage your efforts so that your body and spirit crumble and you end up throwing the ball directly at unsuspecting passersby.”
That is a wild accusation by Magary. I’m not going to dispute that Jon Gruden is a narcissist, but this is a stretch. It’s hard to honestly believe that a head coach is openly sabotaging his quarterbacks. That’s so conspiratorial that it’s tough to even acknowledge.
The story stated that the Raiders had an excellent roster in 2018 and we all know how that turned out. Maybe Magary attacking the roster is a good sign, as he goes on to explain why he thinks the Raiders suck. We’ve all heard it before. Now, take Deadspin’s piece with a grain of salt because it’s part of a series of articles that is intent on exploring why certain teams aren’t good.
In what was obviously a hyperbolic effort to troll Raiders fans, this is a good indicator of how Raider haters feel about the team.
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Why the Raiders Don’t Suck
Two things can be true at once: the Raiders could be in the midst of a rebuilding year and still not suck. Let’s not fool ourselves, it’s going to be really hard for the Raiders to make it to the playoffs in 2019. They have the hardest schedule in the NFL and a really young roster. While Deadspin thinks the Raiders are destined for a 4-12 record, it’s safe to assume that won’t be the case. Last year’s effort doesn’t inspire too much confidence, but the Raiders have added a serious amount of talent.
Antonio Brown is one of the best receivers in the NFL and he gives Derek Carr the best weapon he’s ever had. Tyrell Williams will give the team a great second option at wideout and will help Carr show off his vaunted deep-throw accuracy. Don’t forget about Josh Jacobs, as he could become the best running back the Raiders have had in a long time and his ability as a dual-threat will greatly help the offense.
The defense has also been greatly improved. The Raiders added talented defenders with three of their first four draft picks and brought in talented veterans like Lamarcus Joyner and Brandon Marshall. The unit won’t be in the upper echelon of NFL defenses quite yet, but many of the young players should improve as they get more experience. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was dealt a bad hand in 2018, but he’s proven to be a solid defensive mind. Expect the Raiders defense to look completely different in 2019.
Magary did bring up some valid issues about Tom Cable and the offensive line. They’re going to need to protect Carr for the team to be successful. Cable hasn’t proven that he can put together a good offensive line, so Gruden will need to get rid of him if the unit continues to struggle. While the hate from many outlets can be frustrating, it’s up to the Raiders to silence them. If the Raiders put together a good season in 2019, it’s going to be incredibly satisfying to throw it back in the faces of doubters.
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