Technically speaking, the Oakland Raiders still have a shot at making the playoffs this year. About a 5,000-to-1 shot, if you believe the cumulative probability odds of FiveThirtyEight, which reports that the Raiders need a “royal flush to make the playoffs”. And while, technically, the odds of a royal flush are 649,740-to-1, the point stands: the confluence of events outside of the Raiders’ control necessary for Oakland to make the playoffs is staggering. The Raiders’ season — realistically speaking — is over, and it will go into the books, without objection, as a disappointment. And looking back on what went wrong for this team in 2017, while also looking forward to the 2018 season and beyond, one has to wonder: is this as good as it will get for the Raiders? We can argue and debate over whether the Super Bowl expectations around this team going into this season were unfounded — I believe that they were — but that won’t change the fact that those significant expectations weren’t even close to being met. That failure should raise concerns: what if the 12 wins from 2016 — driven by an incredible (and probably unsustainable) seven fourth-quarter comebacks — was the franchise’s peak for this decade? What if the brand of eventful mediocrity that defined the 2015 and 2017 seasons is the real norm for the Jack Del Rio-Derek Carr era? The quarterback-head coach duo is the most important in the NFL (and perhaps in all of professional sports) and after three years with this duo in place, it’s more than fair to wonder if Del Rio and Carr have what it takes to make this Raider team one that can compete for championships. After this season, it’s also fair to wonder if the duo has what it takes to return the Raiders to the postseason. Alas, before the start of the 2017 season, the Raiders’ tied the franchise’s fate to the two, signing both to contract extensions — a reward for taking the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Carr signed a five-year, $125 million contract with $70.2 million guaranteed; Del Rio extended his contract for four years at around $5 million per season.
What if this is as good as it gets for the Raiders?
East Bay Times | Dec 23