If you’re reading this article, you don’t need anyone to tell you that this is not how good football teams look.
You can go ahead and stick a fork in the Oakland Raiders because the fat lady is halfway through her encore, and while the Raiders are headed to Las Vegas, Elvis has left the building. It’s going to be a long season, and it’s barely halfway over. How are Raiders fans, the most passionate fans in football, going to get through another couple of months of this trash? Easy. Like this.
The Raider Nation Survival Guide: How to Survive the 2018 Season
Don’t expect the Raiders to win many games this year. Sure, there are a few bad teams on the schedule, the Week 11 game against the Arizona Cardinals jumps out, but it wouldn’t be wise to expect Oakland to do a whole lot of winning this season. Don’t expect Derek Carr to have great numbers, don’t expect this defense to do a whole lot of anything, and frankly, don’t even have decent expectations for the special teams.
It’s okay to want the Raiders to win. You have a limited time on this Earth, and you should get to experience as many wins as possible. But try to be positive, if the team wins, all good! If not, better draft positioning, and I know that’s not as good.
Study The Positives
Believe it or not, there are things about this team to like. There’s some real talent on that defensive line with Maurice Hurst, Arden Key, and P.J. Hall. Meanwhile, when Carr occasionally gets good protection, he can still light up the scoreboard. Jared Cook is having one of the best years of this career, and at some point, we’re going to get a real look at rookie wide receiver, Marcell Ateman. Try to find things to like on this terrible team, because you might just discover the foundation of this team’s future.
Keep An Eye on College Football
The fun thing about the Raiders having a ton of draft capital is that draft day is going to be a blast for Raider Nation next year. Start tuning in on Saturdays instead of Sundays, and watch those big schools. See if you can find the next great Raider.
Nick Bosa, the darling of next year’s draft, has clocked out at Ohio State, but check out Devin White, the freak linebacker from LSU. Tune into an Arizona State game and see what wide receiver N’Keal Harry is doing for them. Even if the Raiders trade down, and they might, they’re still going to get at least two blue chip prospects, and you might as well find your favorites now.
Trust The Process
It’s almost a punchline based on the endless rebuild in Philadelphia, but that’s exactly what the Raider Nation has to do. This season is going to be brutal, but next off-season is going to be an absolute blast. The Raiders are going to have four picks in the first 40 (looking like 33 at this point), and around 70,000,000 dollars in cap space. The likes of Demarcus Lawrence, Le’Veon Bell, Dante Fowler, and maybe even Jadeveon Clowney are set to be free agents and Jon Gruden has money to burn.
Meanwhile, you might be thinking that it doesn’t matter how many picks a team has if they miss. Well, a brief glance at Oakland’s 2018 draft gives you a lot to be excited about. Kolton Miller needs a summer in the weight room, and there’s no question he’s struggled, but he’s had some good moments too. Arden Key has shown flashes of brilliance, and will only get better with time. P.J. Hall has been disruptive when he’s been in the game, and linemate Maurice Hurst is arguably the Raiders best defensive player.
Silver (and Black) Lining
It’s still early, but if next year’s class is half as good as this year’s, plus a solid free agent season? It might not be doom and gloom for the Raiders next season. It’s easy to look at this version of the team and be discouraged, but in a bit of irony, Gruden and Raider brass probably predicted this. They said all the right things about being competitive, but they knew this squad wasn’t built to win, which is why they traded pieces like Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper.
It’s not like Jon Gruden thought the Raiders were going to be blowing teams out and instead they laid an egg, he knew this was a lame duck season. As unhappy as Raider Nation is, you have to believe better days are ahead. Otherwise, why even bother? Next season, Gruden will have had two drafts, including multiple first round picks and a ton of cash to build his team. Then we’ll get a real glimpse of what the next ten years could look like in Oakland/San Diego/Las Vegas/Mars.
Ultimately, this is a fan base that doesn’t deserve to sit through another rebuild. After the 2016 season, the best fan base in professional sports thought the dark days were over, and that they could finally root for a contender again. But as bad as things might be, coming off a hideous beat down in the final Battle of the Bay, Raider Nation has to stay positive. Nobody knows if Gruden’s plan will work or not, but there’s only one way to find out.
Just Watch, Baby.