The Oakland Raiders were embarrassed in Santa Clara on national television as the lifeless 49ers who were on their third string quarterback, made the Raiders look like a junior varsity team.
Or were they embarrassed???
There are a number of Raiders fans and members of the media who believe the Raiders are intentionally tanking the season for draft position. And if that’s the case, then perhaps things aren’t so bad. If they are trying to lose, than maybe the defense isn’t as bad as it looks and maybe Jon Gruden’s offense is far more potent than the unit we saw fail to put up more than 3 points against a bad 49ers defense.
But sadly, that line of thinking seems too good to be true.
Are the Raiders treating this roster like they believe they can make the playoffs this season? Of course not. They’ve traded Amari Cooper and are finally playing some of the youngsters they refused to let on the field earlier in the year. The moves they are making with the roster are about looking ahead, that’s for sure.
But there’s a major difference between roster decisions that are made with the future in mind and actively trying to tank a game.
I find it impossible to believe any of the players are out there on the field with the intent of tanking. Do some of the players seem to give up during games? Sure, this team is pretty bad and in many games, they simply have no shot and the players know it. But giving up on a game is different than entering that game with the intent of not playing well.
First off, many of the players on the Raiders won’t be with the team much longer, so doing anything other than playing their best would only hurt their own bank accounts as they look for new jobs next year. And the same goes for the young players like Gareon Conley, DeAndre Washington and Karl Joseph, who finally have a chance to prove their worth in live game action.
Sure, there are times when the players give up on games, but that’s more a sign of not believing in themselves, the team and their coaches than it is a sign of them wanting a high draft pick. Outside of this year’s rookies who are fairly assured of a spot next season, tanking for a high draft pick doesn’t help any of the players on this roster.
And then there’s the coaching staff. Sure, it would make sense for them to tank. Gruden has ten years to get this thing right and little to no pressure from owner Mark Davis.
But tanking by a coaching staff requires that staff’s willingness and ability to put their ego and competitive nature aside. And to be honest, that’s not something I believe Jon Gruden is capable of. I think Jon Gruden would take six wins over the number one draft pick any day of the week. It just does not seem to be in Jon Gruden’s nature to willfully lose a game.
Plus, the idea that the Raiders are tanking meets a big time road block when you consider the Colts game. The Raiders played Indy close and almost came out with a win over one of the teams competing for the number one pick. If the Raiders were deliberately trying to tank this season, there is no way they try to be that competitive against one of their primary opponents for the top pick. If the coaching staff was tanking, Sunday’s game against Andrew Luck would’ve looked as bad or worse than Thursday’s game against Nick Mullens.
But the unfortunate truth is that the idea of the Raiders tanking appears to be more of a way for fans to be ok with the product being put on the field than it has to do with reality.
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