Give Rich A Chance
Raider Nation, this season was both incredibly disappointing and incredibly inspiring. It began with a bit of familiar flair, another good start to the season, going 3–0, which included one heart-stopping overtime win against the Ravens and one road upset of the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Then, as has been the case for the Silver and Black for a minute, the wheels fell off.
The way it all came apart was different from previous seasons. Under Jon Gruden, the Raiders experienced back-to-back late season collapses in 2019 and 2020. For whatever reasons, after boasting mid-season records that placed the team squarely in the playoff hunt, those teams unraveled in November and December. This season,
Some skeletons from Gruden’s past in the form of THOSE emails came back to haunt him. That got him canned from the Raiders and killed his NFL career, five weeks into this season. Mark Davis asked Rich Bisaccia to step in as the interim head coach, which we all know he did. Thirty-eight years of being an assistant coach in the NFL finally paid off for Bisaccia, and he made the most of this opportunity.
He won the first two games he coached before the Raiders hit another low point in their season. Henry Ruggs III killed a woman and her dog in a DUI accident on November 2nd, a terrible tragedy for all parties involved. The team was distraught. The franchise was still reeling from the Gruden fiasco, and now one of the stars of the team had destroyed everything he had worked for and ruined so many people’s lives. He was liked by his teammates and by Mark Davis, and his accident and immediate release from the Raiders threw the team into a downward spiral.
A week later, Damon Arnette acts a fool and gets himself released from the team. That’s two first round picks from the 2020 draft off the roster a season later. The Raiders lost the next three games before turning things around on Thanksgiving with a big win against the Cowboys, and somehow, Rich Bisaccia guided the Silver and Black to a four-game winning streak to close out the season and punch their Wild Card ticket to the playoffs.
The impossible dream of making it to the AFC Championship Super Bowl was shut down in Cincinnati last weekend, leaving Derek Carr still in search of his first playoff win. It was a solid effort, but it fell short, and now we wait and see how Raiders management goes about deciding who’s the man to take over as head coach permanently. Some of the players have spoken out in support of Bisaccia continuing on in his current role, and I am with them. We all should be, Raider Nation. He is exactly who the Raiders need to lead them.
You might be surprised to hear that I don’t know the guy, but there’s enough word of mouth out there on the internet to get the impression that he’s a real one, and that players and personnel from around the league love the dude. That’s already a significant improvement from Gruden, who had a reputation of grinding down folks with his intense persona.
Whether it matters to you or not that Rich Bisaccia is a likeable person, it should matter to you that he seems to know how to coach football. He went 7–5 after he took over the team, including that four-game run that helped them qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2016, before Jon Gruden. Bisaccia took the same group of guys Gruden (and Mike Mayock) selected to be on the 2021 Raiders, and he did in one year what they couldn’t do in three.
This doesn’t mean that the Raiders will make the playoffs every season. The AFC is one of the NFL’s toughest divisions, and it’ll be that way for a while. It’ll be a grind to get there, but Rich Bisaccia is the type of coach to lead men through that, and he inspires those men to play with everything they have. Sure, there are bigger names out there, but it’s all a crapshoot. Those guys will also cost a lot more to bring in. Rich will give the team more bang for its buck. A cash strapped owner, like Mark Davis, could use that extra money to bring in a couple of high-end coordinators to help out Bisaccia. A new GM, better choices in the draft, more weapons for DC, a beefed-up defense … the Raiders future looks bright.
Maybe it’s bright whether or not Bisaccia stays the head coach, but giving him a shot to build on this successful 2021 campaign is a smart football decision. All I’m saying is give Rich a chance.
Originally published at https://nickmacwilli.com on January 22, 2022.