Oh, boy, was I arrogant. After predicting that the Oakland Raiders would finish 3rd in the division, and saying that they could go 8-8 this season, fans of the San Diego Chargers wanted my head on a platter. After the Raiders dismantled the Chargers in Oakland to move into 3rd place and match San Diego's 2-3 record, I reminded everyone that I had predicted this.
About 10 weeks later, the Chargers sit at 7-7 and need a miracle to make the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Raiders are 4-10 and falling to pieces, with owner Mark Davis living up to his father's legacy. I should've seen this coming.
Let's get caught up with everything that's gone on with the Raiders since their win over the Chargers.
The Matt McGloin Era
When Terrelle Pryor had to miss a game against the Washington Redskins with a concussion from the previous week, filling in for him was Matt Flynn. Flynn, who had been given a big contract by the Seattle Seahawks, was traded to the Raiders in the offseason with the expectation that he would be the team's starting QB in 2013. He lost his job in training camp and apparently underwhelmed in his lone start with Oakland, because a few weeks later he was released by the team.
When Terrelle Pryor had to miss a game with a sprained MCL, the Raiders decided to go with undrafted rookie QB Matt McGloin in his place. Despite a 1-4 record, McGloin has remained the starter for 5 games and will start against the Chargers on Sunday. Pryor is healthy, but the Raiders really like what they see from McGloin, who turned the ball over 5 times in last week's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Rashad Jennings Era
It was only a matter of time before the Raiders got tired of waiting for Darren McFadden to stay healthy.
Rashad Jennings, signed as a free agent to replace Michael Bush, made the most of his opportunity to fill in for an injured McFadden earlier this season and has taken over the starting RB job. The former Jaguars RB's 4.6 yards per carry behind a shaky offensive line is impressive enough, and it's helped catapult him to 4th in the league in DYAR.
To make a long story short, Jennings signed with the Raiders because he knew he'd eventually get a chance to start by playing behind McFadden. Now that he has been given the chance, he's finally proving himself to be anything but a first round bust.
The (End of the) Dennis Allen Era?
Michael Silver, who is usually dead on with reports of this nature, wrote earlier this week that the Raiders will need to perform well (and probably win) their last two games if Dennis Allen has any hopes of holding on to his job as the team's head coach. In fact, that article is cholk-full of Raiders hilarity (see below).
This is just the second season for Allen, who is the league's youngest head coach. The Raiders finished 4-12 in his first season, after going 8-8 the previous year, and are on their way towards a similar finish in 2013.
The Same Old Raiders / The Mark Davis Era
Remember, after Al Davis died, when everyone thought the follies of the old club were over?
Mark Davis won't be as involved as Al Davis, they said.
It also seems that, even with Mark Davis running the team in place of his late father, the Raiders are still the Raiders. After Allen was hired for the 2012 season, most of his assistants were given two-year contracts. At the end of the season, McKenzie recommended to Davis that the contracts of the assistants retained by the team be rolled over for another year, so that they'd continue to have two years on their deals, as per NFL practice.
Though McKenzie is allegedly in control of all things football, Davis rebuffed the request, meaning that numerous assistants (including defensive coordinator Jason Tarver) have contracts that are about to expire.
But sources say Davis, especially last year, has made his displeasure known after losses, sometimes behaving, according to witnesses, like a "petulant child" on the team plane after unfavorable outcomes.
One other bit of dysfunction: Typically in the NFL, when a team fires a coach/assistant with an offset clause in the contract (standard), the next team that hires him will give said coach an artificially low salary, forcing the former team to pay the rest of the money. Typically, no one complains -- this is the way it's done.
So, when the Jets fired Tony Sparano as offensive coordinator and the Raiders were set to hire him as their offensive line coach, they kept the salary low. However, the Raiders decided to give Sparano an "assistant head coach" title as well, suggesting increased responsibilities. This did not sit well with the Jets, who filed a grievance with the NFL, claiming the Raiders were intentionally underpaying Sparano and forcing them to pay a disproportionate share.
Reggie McKenzie is a fine general manager, far better than Al Davis was, and will get the Raiders headed in the right direction, they said.
First, the departure of quarterback Carson Palmer, who not only was asked to take a pay cut, but also, according to a source close to Palmer, was insulted by the team's unwillingness to guarantee Palmer's presence on the roster and insistence that he compete with Terrelle Pryor.
That triggered Palmer's rejection of the pay cut and desire to force a trade to Arizona. McKenzie countered by trading for Matt Flynn (disaster) and drafting Tyler Wilson (disaster). Because Olson has found a way to make it work with undrafted free-agent Matt McGloin, the team has performed reasonably well on offense despite a lack of talent at skill positions.
Yup, same old Raiders.