Despite Playoff Loss, Raiders Have Moral Victories To Be Proud Of

The Las Vegas Raiders may have lost in their wild card weekend matchup, but they still have a lot to be proud of looking back.

Moral Victories

In the NFL, there are no such things as moral victories. It is the equivalent of doing everything right, except finishing the job. However, the Raiders did their best emulation of The Rock, from the movie San Andreas, overcoming all odds and embarking on an incredible run that culminated in the playoffs.

Ending a five-year playoff drought was an absolute necessity for the Raiders. Achieving 10 wins for the first time since 2016 and only the second time in the last 20 years is remarkable. Making a two-game improvement over last year’s 8-8 mark is also noteworthy.

Shedding cancerous deadweight at different times midseason led to the team banding together. Facing a perfect storm of adversity as one unit was how they survived. Nearly everyone wrote them off. But for the first time in the second Gruden era, they were able to get it done.

Rebuild On Schedule

A modern NFL rebuild takes one to three years, while a full rebuild usually takes three to five years. Both Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock set the goal of making the playoffs at the start of the season. After one lame duck year and back-to-back collapses, in year four, the Raiders cracked the code as they won their last four games in a row. In the process, they knocked off some of the hottest teams in football out of the playoffs.

Defensively, through the months of December and early January, the Raiders’ defense was elite. In four of their last six games, they held opponents to 20 points or less, and under 300 total yards of offense. The Raiders’ pass defense was middle of the pack, finishing 14th in yards. An often-porous rushing defense allowed only three running backs to break into the century club all season long.

Rich Bisaccia

In Gruden’s absence, Bisaccia, the special team’s coordinator, was nominated to come off the bench and lead the team in Gruden’s absence. Respected unilaterally, Bisaccia found a way to center the team, guiding them through crises after crises, earning their trust and love. No one ever knows when they will get their moment to shine, nor if they will be up to the task when they do.

Entering his dream job under the most nightmarish of scenarios was how Bisaccia came in. Is Bisaccia an Xs and Os kind of coach? Maybe, maybe not. What he has been able to accomplish is get his team to believe in him enough to play hard week after week. When they had every reason and every excuse not to.

How will Bisaccia go out? It’s been rumored that his interim position will be filled by someone else. The end of his tenure has yet to be announced. On his watch, the Raiders went 7-5 and earned the five seed. Is Bisaccia the perfect coach? No, probably not, but he should be proud of the job he did. He deserves an interview and consideration. Not many could do what he did.

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*Top Photo: Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal

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