Las Vegas Raiders Best Weapon: Patience
Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr.
Henderson, Nev. -- When you look at the systematic overhaul that has commenced since Mark Davis handed Jon Gruden the keys to the Silver and Black, you see a pattern. It is an evident and distinct pattern.
While not afraid to be aggressive like the Raiders of old, they have maintained a patient, high reward, low-risk approach.
Trading Khalil Mack brought instant criticism from passionate fans and ignorant media, but quiet praise from inside the NFL. It was a sign that Mark Davis had confidence in his brain trust, and they had a plan.
Championship and sustained franchises are built via the draft. They add high rent players when you are one player away from a Super Bowl. Methodically the Raiders have addressed their needs while maintaining salary cap awareness both for today and tomorrow.
The Raiders' interest in Jadeveon Clowney is the latest example. They know that he is available, and they know that he is a big name that will excite the same passionate people that ripped them for trading Mack. But they also know his productivity and health are suspect.
Championship franchises have a saying. "The best ability is availablity." Sitting on injured reserve is not where big-ticket free agents win you football games. Big-ticket free agents who under-produce cause tension in the locker room with young players, who are paid significantly less, and due more.
The Raiders have had several opportunities this offseason to make trades for draft picks and give up picks for players. Each time they are thinking long term while not sacrificing today.
While the Raiders are still 100 percent committed to the edicts put in place by Al Davis, they have added another. It's an important one: patience. They refuse to make splashes that are as big of a game as those on the Las Vegas strip, with a very high risk of loss.
Mike Mayock doesn't need to come to a podium and tell people who have any discernment at all that they are looking for and wanting more defensive lineman. If you have studied football for any amount of time, that is a cry and need of every team.
But what the Raiders' braintrust has done should encourage Raider Nation more than anything. They are deliberate. They have had great drafts. They have added key players who offer leadership on the field and off the field for a very young team. They are waiting.
Brian Hoyer, long-time (and current) NFL quarterback with the New England Patriots, once said it best to me about winning teams: "They may not win press conferences or get all the hype, but when they are patient and trust the process, they win what matters most, football games."
In 2020, the Raiders are ready to pounce into the NFL post-season. They are not yet a Super Bowl team, but their patience makes the ultimate goal of hoisting another Lombardi Trophy in the future more tangible.
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