It’s difficult to put in perspective just how bad the Oakland Raiders have been over the last decade and beyond, but let’s try anyway.
The Raiders have had 12 consecutive non-winning seasons, they won five games or fewer in 10 of those seasons, they’re 11-37 over the last three years – including 3-13 a season ago – and last year they finished dead last in the league in yards per game and 31st in points per game.
That, my friends, is awful.
And yet, many believe the Raiders will be considerably better this year and could flirt with their first winning season since 2002.
“I’m thinking this is the year you see improvement,” Raiders color analyst and two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Tom Flores said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “This is first time in a long time that I felt good about the season. How many games they win, no one knows that, but they have to stay healthy because there’s not a lot of depth in some positions and they’re very young in so many positions. They have to grow up. They have to learn how to win. Jack Del Rio has really changed the mood in this training camp.”
Oakland’s hopes likely hinge on the play of second-year quarterback Derek Carr, who completed 58.1 percent of his passes for 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as a rookie.
“Derek Carr is a unique guy,” Flores said. “He loves the game, he’s a student of the game, is very serious about it, he’s very mature. In fact, last year as a rookie, he was too mature. He was trying to do, I thought, a little too much.”
Still, Flores has been impressed with Carr’s work ethic and dedication to football and his family.
“It’s not a bad combination,” Flores said.
Whatever happens this year, Oakland should probably enjoy it while it lasts, as Flores is one of many who believes the franchise will likely move.
“Every day my feelings change a little bit more towards leaving because I don’t hear anything coming out of the Oakland area, the city or the county,” he said. “I see renderings of a new stadium proposal by the city of San Diego, and I see two renderings of two stadiums in Los Angeles. I have seen nothing – or heard of nothing – in Oakland. Of course, I’m not privy to anything that might go on behind (closed) doors, but still, it’s unfortunate because there’s not a lot of corporate money in Oakland. They’re starting other measures for the city and the people of Oakland, but in my opinion, the Raiders belong in Oakland. That’s where they started. That’s where I started in 1960. God, I’m an old guy.”
Flores, 78, said Los Angeles would be the best landing spot for the Raiders if they do move.
“I think so,” he said. “I think that’s the only option they have. Any other city wouldn’t be a good option for them. They still have a tremendous amount of fans in Los Angeles. It’s still Raiders Country in so many ways.”