Shutdown Corner - NFL

September 15, 2009

Do the Raiders ... not ... suck?

It's hard to say for sure, because their opposition didn't provide the sternest of tests, but ... could it be? Could it be that the Oakland Raiders managed to impersonate a non-ridiculous football team for 60 minutes last night?

They competed. They were more physical than the Chargers. In the end, San Diego's offensive weapons proved to be just a bit too much, but for a good portion of the game, it looked like Oakland's physicality would rule the day. They had me very, very concerned that Tuesday would be a dark, dark day for me.

If you've been reading The Corner for any time at all, you know I don't want to be typing this. Mocking the Raiders is perhaps my favorite hobby. It brings me tremendous joy. I don't want to stop, but I might have to.

This is a legitimate defense. Up front, Tommy Kelly(notes) and Richard Seymour(notes) (not worth a 2011 first-rounder, but still) can make plays. Greg Ellis(notes) is a solid veteran. There is athleticism and talent at linebacker with Thomas Howard(notes) and Kirk Morrison(notes). Everyone knows about Nnamdi Asomugha(notes).

I don't want to go overboard here, because obviously, there are still some problems. I'm not predicting a winning record or anything, and JaMarcus Russell(notes) isn't making the Pro Bowl anytime soon.

That was not the performance of a joke of a team, though. If nothing else, they didn't have the constant mental errors and penalties that have consistently embarrassed the Raiders over the last few years. They played competent football. Maybe it wasn't great football, or even winning football, but it was competent. It was respectable. For the first time in a long time, the Raiders scared me, and it had nothing to do with the fact that some of those people in the stands might roam the streets freely.

At least until their next game, I'll be suspending all jokes about how the Raiders play football. They earned that last night.

Jokes about Raiders fans, though, remain on the table. I mean, come on.

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