When Tony Romo(notes) looked around his locker room after today's 24-7 win over the Raiders, he saw a lot of guys he could point to and say, "I am thankful for this guy, because he makes my job easier."
The Raiders played hard this afternoon, and while it might be a stretch to say that they gave the Cowboys a game, they didn't embarrass themselves, either. The effort was there. What's not there, though, is the same level of talent enjoyed by most other NFL teams. It becomes especially clear when they play a team like the Cowboys who are loaded at the skill positions. It doesn't even look like the two teams are playing the same sport.
When Tony Romo drops back, he's got guys in front of him who can protect him from a pass rush. With the time that gives him, he's usually able to locate a receiver who has been able to get separation from the defense.
When Gradkowski drops back, he's got about two seconds before a defender crushes him. And if, somehow, he's able to get away from the rush, he'll be looking downfield for an inexperienced receiver who probably has not found a way to beat the coverage.
He's playing with such a high degree of difficulty. It's like he and Romo are both carpenters, and when Romo goes to work, he gets a hammer, a screwdriver, a drill, a saw and a tape measure. Gradkowski gets a ball of yarn and a breadstick.
I felt bad for the Raiders today. They're trying. Tom Cable has them playing hard, but they just don't have the horses. It's not Bruce Gradkowski's fault, and it wasn't entirely JaMarcus's Russell's fault, either. It's a bare cupboard. There are haves and have-nots in the NFL right now, and the Raiders demonstrated to all the haves today just how thankful they should be.