October 17, 2011

2011 Oakland Raiders: Just Endure Baby

In the film, “The Dark Knight”, there is a climactic point involving the main antagonist, the Joker, setting up a video feed to the people of Gotham City and terrorizing a victim as he issues out a warning that his nemesis, the protagonist Batman, will need to unveil is true identity or he will kill more innocent people. What follows soon after is a wrath of madness and violence brought to the city by Joker, forcing Bruce Wayne, the man behind the Batman mask, to fold up his operation and turn himself in as the masked vigilante.

As he begins to shutdown his secret lair, his butler, Alfred Pennyworth, stands by and watches with a solemn look on his face. Wayne can feel his lifelong guardian and friend’s distaste in his decision to throw in the towel, to which he replies that people are dying and what would he have him do?

“Endure,” Pennyworth responds defiantly to Wayne’s distressing inquiry.

No matter if it’s in fiction or in real life, the strength to endure is one of the hardest qualities for a human being to maintain. Suffering and difficult moments usually precede this necessity, which can sometimes overpower even the strongest of super heroes.

This is the crossroads that another band of muscle-bound individuals face before them.

On October 8th, 2011, the face of the Oakland Raiders and its owner since the 1970s, Al Davis, passed away. It was the biggest shake-up in the Bay Area since the Loma Prieta earthquake hit in 1989. As the man who embodied the spirit of the franchise since he first stepped into the Oakland scene as the head coach and general manager in 1962, he always pushed for a three-letter word that became the only outcome he cared about throughout his tenure presiding over the team: win.

The Raiders continued to do so, even while dealing with the pain of losing their biggest supporter and proprietor just a mere nine days ago.

First came the emotional win by Oakland on the road in Houston on the final play of the game. As Matt Schaub evaded their supreme pass rush, he sprinted out of the pocket and tried to loft a pass to his receiver in the end zone, only to have it snagged in the air by Safety Michael Huff while his team made the mistake of playing with ten men on the field at the time.

Then, the Raiders found a way to stave off a last hopeful drive from the Cleveland Browns to get a 24-17 victory last Sunday. The win put the team at 4-2 after week six and the hope of an AFC West title in 2011 alive with one more loss than the division leading San Diego Chargers

While optimism is still running on high around Oakland, another recent setback will only make the journey back up to the level as a post season participant a mountain of a climb. During their match up with Cleveland, the Raiders lost another member of their organization, but this time through their personnel. QB Jason Campbell tried to scamper down the field for a run and landed awkwardly when he was tackled down. The diagnosis for their quarterback is that he has a broken collarbone and will most likely miss the remainder of the season.

Now without their team spirit (Davis) and their leader (Campbell), the Raiders will hope to continue their winning ways be investing greatly on that one quality that even Batman himself found hard to grow and maintain through multiple adversaries.


The core of their stamina will funnel from their magnificent backfield, which has been carrying the team since their offense first took the field in early September. Led by the current leading rusher in the NFL, Darren McFadden, the franchise is second in the league when gobbling up yards on the ground and also have scored more times by way of the run than any other team.

If they hope to endure all that they have lost at this point, then McFadden, Michael Bush, and Taiwan Jones will have to continue evading defenders for big gains, as they will undoubtedly see their carries increase because of their current QB installment.

Their new starting signal-caller will be former UC Berkeley star Kyle Boller, who the Raiders will hope can return to his old Bay Area prominence. Since being drafted in the first round by Baltimore, the 30-year-old quarterback has become a bit of a lost thought in the league after five underperforming seasons with the Ravens. If he can just keep his ship afloat by not making mistakes and peppering in a few big plays here and there; then the weight bearing down on the Raiders’ backfield might not be as heavy as it looks right now.

Yet, a task that most other QBs in the league might find simple is a bit far-fetched for a player whose career rating hovers just above 70 and has more interceptions than touchdowns. The franchise itself understands that Boller might not be the right choice to maintain stability and have been rumored to be exploring other options. It appears they are trying to push the right buttons in order to get Bengals owner Mike Brown to deal the untradeable and retired Carson Palmer, as well as scanning through the list of quarterbacks currently available through free agency.

Whichever direction they lean, the Oakland Raiders understand that their outlook for success has been minimized by to a few key losses over the past two weeks. Lucky for them, those losses haven’t applied to their record, as they continue to “just win baby” like their fallen owner always wanted them to do.

Yet, if they hope to make good on his famous words at the end of the year, they will have to lean on the two syllables that Alfred made so legendary in the “The Dark Knight”:


By Norcal JW with No comments


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