The Raiders’ time in Oakland is dwindling as construction on their new Las Vegas Stadium should be ready for the 2020 season.
Plenty of tears will flow here in the Bay Area once that time comes, but in the meantime I wonder how their farewell tour will end in Oakland. It’s a sensitive subject for Raider Nation, especially with the way the 2017 season has played out.
This was a year with heightened expectations that the Raiders failed to meet. With Derek Carr coming off of a career year and the addition of Marshawn Lynch, their 6-8 record and slim playoff chances has been one the NFL’s biggest disappointments.
Not only has this season been lost, but the region has started to see the Raiders as an afterthought.
After the 49ers traded a second-round pick to New England for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on Oct. 30, the talking points and attention here has shifted to the red and gold.
It’s all smiles in Santa Clara after Garoppolo — in his home debut — rallied the Niners to their third-straight win this past Sunday. The vibe coming from the South Bay is all of a sudden contagious, as the Faithful feel like they have their savior.
Now, with two weeks left on what looks like a lost season, there’s nothing but questions surrounding the Raiders and their immediate future in Oakland.
Will Jack Del Rio be retained as head coach? What’s going to happen to first-year offensive coordinator Todd Downing? Does Carr have to prepare to play for his fourth coordinator in five seasons?
Those questions will be answered early in 2018, but you have to wonder: Can they pull themselves off the mat next year in their second-to-last season in Oakland? Can the Raiders regain the attention of an audience that is turning on this iconic sports franchise?
Say the Raiders finish next season 6-10 or worse, the fan reaction likely won’t be pretty. The Coliseum could very well resemble Cleveland in 1995 when fans threw bottles on the field as the Browns prepared to move to Baltimore.
The hype the Raiders had coming into this season — one in which they had Super Bowl aspirations — will have dissipated when they check into training camp next July.
How can they steal some of the limelight back? By winning. How can they negate the negativity that has latched onto this franchise over the last four months? By winning.
Over the next two years, the Raiders must prove to their fans that 2016 wasn’t a fluke. Although, it sure seems like it was considering they’ve missed the postseason all but once since 2002.
I don’t have the answers for how to fix this team. Clearing house won’t be easy for owner Mark Davis, who committed to a contract extension to Del Rio before the season and will likely be reluctant to pay two people to do one job. But something drastic needs to happen.
Because how this farewell tour ends for the Raiders largely depends on how they perform on the field. And what we’ve seen this year has been forgettable — like the team could wind up being in the eyes of many Northern Californians.
Bonta Hill of 95.7 The Game can be heard from noon to 3 p.m. on the Greg Papa Show. Born and bred in San Francisco, he is a sports junkie who loves to sit in the lab (home), eats breakfast food for dinner, and has a newfound love for tequila. Follow at your own risk on Twitter @BontaHill.