After a 20-6 loss to the Chargers, in a performance dispirited even for the Raiders, head coach Jon Gruden provided the quote that ought to be slapped onto the season-in-review DVDs, before those DVDs are immediately buried in a depleted copper mine, the mine entrance sealed off with concrete and the site irradiated from space:
“This will be a year that a lot of us will never forget,” Gruden said. “It’s painful. It is hard. It will be hard to sleep again, hard to get up in the morning.”
The 2018 Oakland Raiders: It will be hard to sleep again.
There was more to the quote, some typical coachspeak pap about how these tough times will fuel the mental toughness that this franchise will rely upon to turn things around, but this is my blog, and the Raiders are just so downright awful that I deem it more spiritually accurate to cut the quote off there, before any optimism creeps in.
The Raiders are 1-8. They have not scored a touchdown in their last nine quarters. They have been outscored 75-9 over that stretch, by three teams with a combined record under .500. They were booed off the field by their home fans, who, come 2020, won’t be their home fans any more. Any optimism is misplaced.
The quarterback appears broken. Derek Carr called a failed jet sweep on fourth-and-goal from the 1 on the game’s first drive “gut-wrenching,” and broke it down with the tragic, weary hopelessness of someone stuck in a Gogol story:
“We’ve seen multiple teams score on that play,” Carr said. “They had trouble at first lining up to it, just like we saw on film. And as I’m sitting there, I’m like, ‘This is going to walk in.’ And then it didn’t.”
Bookending that crusher was Carr firing the football into the turf on a must-complete fourth-quarter fourth down:
And in between?
“We had no clue what we were doing,” Carr said. “Speaking for myself, I had no idea what I was getting into. You just hope that it’s not like this forever.”
The good news is that it’s not going to be like this forever, not for anyone wearing the silver and black now. This is a hell from which there is an escape. Khalil Mack escaped the Raiders by being too talented. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie escaped the Raiders by quitting football forever. Bruce Irvin, released by Oakland and signed by an actual good team, celebrating by yelling at the top of his lungs, “I’m free! I’m free!”
You see, there are ways out.
Here is where I’d normally say something encouraging, like things will get better because they cannot get worse, but that’s not actually true for Oakland fans. For them, it will get worse: The team is leaving. If it makes the most of its myriad high draft picks and becomes a contender again, it will do so in another city. This is a black hole of misery and the event horizon has been crossed. It does not get any better from here; this is it, just one kick in the dick after another, until the end of all things.
And, at the heat death of the Oakland Raiders, there will still be Gruden.