Fire up the Jim Mora Sr. “Playoffs!?” video and memes all you want on this one, baby. Because Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and the franchise’s quarterback Derek Carr have not only the proper mindset, but the only one the team should have when it comes to postseason aspirations.
“I don’t feel like we can respond to any of that stuff. I just watched the Falcons go to New Orleans and beat ’em. And beat ’em bad,” Gruden said during his Monday press conference. “Miami goes on the road, beats Indianapolis, no one expected that would happen. “I try not to listen to the talk shows. I was part of that for nine years. I turn the sound down.
“We’re going to get what we deserve. We’ve got a long way to go and a lot of things to overcome and I know Cincinnati. I know those players. I know those coaches. Two of them were on my staff last year. We’re going to get their best shot. And we’d better be ready to go or else.”
“Or else” rings like a resounding gunshot on a tranquil and peaceful night, no?
Carr was well ahead of his boss man in terms of that sentiment.
“We got a lot of young guys so I tell them to just pump their brakes a little bit,” Carr said during an on-field postgame interview after the team’s win over the Chargers last Thursday night. “It’s a it’s my sixth year, I’ve only been once and I didn’t get to play I broke my ankle so I told them just let’s pump our brakes and let’s just do our job you know that’s that’s all we need to focus on right now.
“But it does feel good to be in the hunt we’re playing games that matter just like tonight. That’s what you want November is you’re playing games that matter and we can set ourselves up but we got we have seven more games to go.”
And what a final seven it will be: vs. Bengals; at the Jets; at the Chiefs; vs. Titans; vs. Jaguars; at Chargers; at Broncos. That’s four at home and three on the road. Alright, I digress, that’s five at home and two on the road because we know damn well the Chargers game is a de facto home game.
Analyst and fans abound lament on the Raiders being 7-4 heading into a must-watch AFC West clash with the Chiefs at Arrowhead. That is mularkey of the highest levels.
Just like Gruden noted, a clear favorite (Saints) can lay an egg to a supposed inferior team (Falcons). And Oakland isn’t good enough to hold out it’s chest and announce itself as a “favorite”, even against the Bengals, despite what some will say.
“You know, I’ve been associated with the National Football League for the last 33 years, either as a player or a broadcaster. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a team this bad,” former Raider QB and current CBS analyst Rich Gannon said Sunday after watching the winless Bengals fall to 0-9 in a 49-13 loss to the Ravens. “I can’t believe how bad the Bengals are.”
Cincy isn’t as bad as the Raiders would feel if the fell to 5-5 on the season home loss to those cats.
This isn’t time for grand posturing or proclamations. It’s time to stack wins, one game at a time. The offense can run the ball and Carr is dropping dimes like a change machine (or Tekashi69, whichever you prefer), and the defense showed one hell of a pulse in Thursday’s win over Los Angeles. But that side of the ball is far too inconsistent to bank on — yet.
Like Gruden and Carr, journeyman ballhawk Erik Harris knows what’s up.
“People have a right to feel the way they do coming off a 4-12 season,” Harris said. “But that was last year and this is a totally different team. Things happened yesterday for us but all we can do is control our own destiny and win the games we’re supposed to win, one at a time.”
That begins in earnest against Cincinnati this Sunday and New York beyond, etc. etc.
Look, I get it. Raider Nation needs aspirations of playoffs like we all need oxygen.
Starving for success, dreaming of playoffs is something Raider Nation is going to gobble up with impunity.
But you have to remember folks, Gruden isn’t into dreams.
He’s into fucking nightmares.
Follow Ray on Twitter @TotoyTigas82