For too long, they’ve walked into Arrowhead and rolled snake eyes. Under the lights and on prime-time television, tonight’s the opportune time for the Las Vegas Raiders to seize the moment and cement their culture.
At 1-3, the desert marauders have little choice but to win. Victory assures that the Silver and Black are indeed moving in the right direction and, more importantly, the early-season stumbles can be corrected. The win in Arrowhead against the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs is proof in the pudding that Josh McDaniels’ Raiders are something to be taken seriously.
It won’t be easy, that’s for damn sure. But if Las Vegas has serious intentions of becoming something more than pro wrestling jobber Barry Horowitz (keen on merely patting himself on the back in a self-congratulatory measure), victory must be attained. The Horowitz example is apt considering, like the jobber, the Raiders have merely laid down in KC for the 1-2-3.
There’s an inkling the McDaniels Era in Vegas is starting to take root. The Raiders’ bossâ€”for better or worseâ€”isn’t one to get too high on a win and too low on a loss. The players have taken the same approach, too. But what’s interesting about that is what McDaniels said during his Saturday media session.
“Yeah, I am,” the Raiders head honcho said when asked if he’s happy with how his players are learning the culture he’s trying to install.
But here’s the meat of the matter: “And again, I go back to this, and ultimately it will be their culture,” McDaniels added.
Raiders players need to take ownership
Ownership will ultimately come down to the Raiders. That’s important. This approach harkens back to the glory days of legendary Raiders coach John Madden. The quintessential Raiders head coach believed in his players’ having ownership. When it became a “we” thing as opposed to a “me” thing with Madden, the buy in was there. McDaniels appears to have similar sentiments.
“Regardless of what I say, or what our coaches may say, or want us to do, at the end of the day, it’s really what they’re going to believe in,” McDaniels noted. “And the only thing we’ve said is, we think it’s the right approach to each week, to have the same urgency, same attention to detail, same work ethic, same attitude and put the same amount into it, regardless of what happened the game before. And not let our guard down and relax and have a bad day, and then try to have a motivational speech the next morning to have a better practice the day after. So, we’re just trying to keep it here and stay as consistent as we can. I think they’ve really done a good job with their approach and the work that they’re putting in.”
“And the habit we want to create is a really good seven-day cycle where you evaluate what happened, be self-critical, learn from it, figure out how we can get better, and then go and attack the next week the same way. And hopefully, if you stack a bunch of weeks on top of each other in December and January, you’re playing your best football and that’s the goal.”
It’s a long road to December…
It’s a long road to December and January, but it’ll be a much easier course to chart if the Raiders are victorious tonight. Despite what McDaniels or his players say about not getting too high or too low, they’re all human. And it’s human nature to bask in victory or wallow in defeat. Why bring that up? After this pivotal Monday night AFC West showdown is completed, it’s bye week for Las Vegas. That means either exuding confidence or stewing in second-guessing the next two weeks. And it’ll be a long two weeks if the Chiefs stamp another L on the Raiders’ forehead.
Look to Derek Carr…
Las Vegas fans can merely look to franchise quarterback Derek Carr if they want to know all about the trials and tribulations of trying to knock Kansas City off its perch of division dominance. Carr holds a career 3-13 overall mark against the Chiefs, including 1-7 in games at Arrowhead.
“Yeah, he’s seen a lot of things, and he has a lot of experiences that he shares with his teammates, shares with some of us,” McDaniels said. “He’s played these division games for almost a decade now, and I think that’s all helpful. I really do. When you’re learning about the culture that was here and the history and the tradition of this organization, you can talk to Mr. Davis, but then when you look at other people, whether it’s Derek (Carr) or Marcel Reece, or some other people that have been able to help some of us just really learn about some of the things that are important here.”
“We’re coming from a different place, but at the end of the day, we’re all Raiders, and so the people that have that significant history, I mean, I think he’s been super willing to share it with us, and I know how important it is for him to really play in these games and win.”
Andy Reid has owned the Las Vegas Raiders
That ‘seen somethings’ line smacks eerily similar to the speech my dad and other military veterans talk about. It’s the sentiment given to explain the unfortunate effects of shellshock. The Raiders indeed had their fair share of football fatigue against the Chiefs. Since arriving in Kansas City in 2013, head coach Andy Reid has compiled an impressive 15-3 record against the Raiders. Reid’s gunslinging quarterback for eight of those gamesâ€”Patrick Mahomesâ€”is 7-1 with an ungodly stat line of 193 of 297 (64.98%) for 2,546 yards, 22 touchdowns, just three interceptions, and nine sacks. That one defeat was a 40-32 defeat in Arrowhead on October 11, 2020. That was the victory lap around the stadium by then-Raiders boss Jon Gruden.
In comparison, Carr’s career numbers against KC read: 388 of 621 (62.48%) for 3,879 yards, 24 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, and 39 sacks.
“I think that there definitely will be some adrenaline, no question,” McDaniels said of the Monday night tilt. “You have to manage that a little bit, but I hope our guys are really excited. If what I see from them is any indication, I’m sure we will be. Excited to perform, excited to compete, and excited to play in this atmosphere for this one time.”
The Raiders not only hold their own excitement in their hands, but they also decide whether a rabid Raider Nation heads into a long two weeks jubilant over what went right in a win, or what went wrong in a loss during a season with plenty of them already.
What say you, Raiders?
*Top Photo: NBC 3 New/Las Vegas