I’m typically a sunny bloke, as I’ve demonstrated over the past two years here at Raider Take. If a dog crapped on my birthday cake, there’s a good chance I’d call it frosting.
So when I published my tirade on Tuesday, many seemed taken aback. It was as if I’d gone from sipping a half-full pint of Guiness to a half-empty vessel of battery acid. For some, it was as if they’d discovered that their aunt was really their uncle, if you know what I mean.
I must confess that I, too, was taken aback by my riotous outrage after Sunday’s loss. Honestly, it took me by surprise. But rather than hide it from you, I laid my soul bare. I found it to be very therapeutic. If you haven’t thrown a tantrum lately, I highly recommend it.
For the past 24 hours, I’ve been psychoanalyzing myself, trying to locate the source of my rage. And my journey, oddly enough, took me right back to where I started: with optimism.
Allow me to explain (and to paraphrase my own comments posted on Across The Silver & Black Pond, a blog that I highly recommend)…
Coach Kiffin said that no one on the team should have slept soundly on Sunday night. Yet some suggest that we, the fans, should be sleeping like babies, with visions of sugarplums and "rebuilding" dancing in our heads. Well, not this fan.
Sunday's “effort” was nothing short of shameful and unacceptable in my opinion, and I think Kiffin would agree with me. Kiffin has said there are no more scholarships, and I would include the entire organization in this new radius of accountability, from Al Davis down to the water boy.
This isn't a Kiffin issue. It's an organizational issue, and I have no problem with holding the organization's feet to the fire with regard to acquiring the right personnel to get the job done (that means executives, coaches and players), and with expecting an accelerated timetable with regards to turning things around. Remember, as fans, we’re all shareholders in this organization. As such, we have a role and a responsibility to demand, and expect, a reasonably coherent performance on the football field.
People say, well, Kiffin just doesn’t have the horses to run the race, and that it’s going to take time to groom the right player personnel. Well, whose fault is it, after four losing seasons and numerous high draft slots, that we still have relatively mediocre personnel? Yours? Mine? Kiffin’s?
But I can assure you that it’s somebody’s fault. People say we are rebuilding. Okay, then tell me: around whom are we rebuilding the future of our weak offensive and defensive lines? Thirty-two-year-old Jeremy Newberry? Barry Sims? Tyler Brayton? Warren Sapp?
Defense was supposed to be our strength, right? It’s okay if we were wrong about that. But it’s not okay if the organization was wrong about it. It’s not my job to monitor every practice and every frame of every film and determine whether we’ve got the horses or not.
When is the last time you saw one of our guys really stick someone and deliver a devastating hit? Whose fault is that? Yours? Mine? Kiffin’s? Who will take responsibility for this? Our defense looks like Cirque du Soleil this year, a bunch of acrobats flying around, hitting nothing.
I’ve witnessed an astonishing 52 losses since September of 2003. Let that number sink in for a second. And after all that, you want me to shrug my shoulders, Kerry Collins style, about last Sunday’s remarkably dismal performance, which netted us our 16th straight loss against a divisional rival, and to Norv Turner no less? No way.
In this age of parity, it is really difficult to stay on the bottom (or the top) of the NFL for four straight years. Therefore, by year five, which is this year, we should be well out of the woods. You want me to give the team another two or three or four years? No way. The first four were plenty.
This is not a unreasonable expectation. In fact, we were coming out of the woods until this recent loss. Trust me, it’s not the loss, it’s the way we lost. There is simply no more wiggle room for Art Shell-type games anymore. None. Rather than say, well, that's the breaks, just hang in there, we’re rebuilding, etc., I'm saying: No. Unacceptable. Never again.
That's not crying or hating. That's sending a message, the same message the Kiffin is surely sending in the locker room, and which had better be bouncing off the walls upstairs in Alameda, too.
Here’s the crux of what I’m saying, and what fills my glass back to half full:
Perhaps I'm being so hard on this team, so early, because I believe more than ever before that the Kiffin era will be different, that we no longer have to settle for anything less than sound, motivated, coherent and competitive football.
That is my message. There will be no more unsound, unmotivated, incoherent and uncompetitive football out of Oakland from this day forward. Sunday was the last of it. Of that, I am very optimistic.