A Time for Answers
You know things are bad when the big news of week three is that your team is still learning how to get to the line and snap the ball before the game clock expires.
Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune said it better than I could: “The first two games, it was almost incomprehensible that an NFL team, trailing by double digits late in the game, was continually snapping the ball as the clock was winding to zero. It was almost as if they had a lead and were executing a four-minute drill to work the clock.”
Incomprehensible, indeed. A tad disgraceful, too, I might add.
You all know me. If a dog crapped on my birthday cake, there’s a good chance I’d call it frosting. My pajamas are made of silver (and black) lining. I am committed to optimism as well as excellence.
Alas, however, I must eventually contend with the irritating matter of reality, and the fact is that the Raiders have, offensively speaking (in more ways than one), put my optimism on a starvation diet so far this season. There’s been a lot of talk in the locker room this week, just as there was after the Chargers game, about being tougher and playing better. I’m glad we’re saying the right things. Now it’s time to do the right things. Talk is talk. Facts are nourishment.
So let’s return to the reality at hand, and this incomprehensible bit of business about still learning how to get to the line in time, and the related concept of coaching. There’s been a lot of discussion about our playcalling and our execution, and where one begins and the other ends. But something that has been overlooked in this discussion is this concept of coaching. Not coaching in the playcalling sense of the word, but in the teaching sense of the word. You can say all you want about professionals being expected to execute like professionals. But at the end of the day, the players are students and the coaches are teachers. Otherwise, why have position coaches in the first place?
Until this year, our quarterbacks coach had no NFL experience, and limited experience as a quarterbacks coach. Now he is charged with preparing Andrew Walter for the complex rigors of the NFL. Is he the guy for the job? How is it that our veteran offensive line seems to have gotten worse under the tutelage of Jackie Slater and Irv Eatman? These two guys are line legends, yes. But are they great teachers? Our offensive coordinator is so rusty that he’s having trouble getting the plays called and our players up to the line in time. Is it fair to assume that his overall teaching skills are similarly rusty?
Far be it from me to call out our position coaches. I really don’t know the first thing about their teaching abilities on the practice field. All I’m saying is that it’s a topic that merits watching as the season progresses. If our execution and fundamentals improve, then it’s a moot point. Indeed, I hope that this is the last time I have to entertain these questions. I should add that I have little concern about Art Shell has a head coach and a team leader. But even the greatest CEO needs a strong management team to succeed.
I am holding good thoughts for this Sunday. We simply cannot lose to the Browns at home. I expect our collective angst be cleansed by the refreshing waters of victory. It’s time to put these ugly questions to rest. It's time for answers.