Mediocre NFL teams always claim they just need to add a few players or tweak a strategy to become contenders. For the Las Vegas Raiders, it’s actually true. The 2020 season has shown an improved Raiders team that even gave the defending Super Bowl champs a scare. The NFL is finally starting to notice the Raiders. Although they don’t have an impressive record, they’re turning into one of the surprises of the 2020 season.
The disappointing seasons of the past
The Raiders have devoted fans, coined slogans, and star players and coaches who’ve come and gone. But the team has barely made the playoffs in recent years. Since 2002, 2016 was the first time they were in the postseason — that’s an extremely long time for such a well-known team to endure dismal results.
Raiders fans have seen a carousel of coaches come and go, usually all with the same result: losing. The only records they seemed to post had to do with their losing ways. In 2009, they became the first team to lose 11 games in seven consecutive seasons.
Raider Nation was down in the dumps, but for the first time in years, the tide may be turning. The 2020 season has seen a hungry and improved Raiders team. Fans are now cautiously optimistic that their beloved Raiders may find their way back into the postseason.
The Las Vegas Raiders’ improvements
The Raiders have seen an increase in their offense, in part thanks to Derek Carr’s improvements. The QB has improved tremendously, throwing deeper, seeing the field clearly, and moving in the pocket. Colin Cowherd from The Herd with Colin Cowherd gives credit for Carr’s improvement to coach John Gruden. He claims Carr was a mid-level quarterback before Gruden’s arrival but is now a strong talent thanks to his coach.
The cast of characters around Carr has also improved. There’s better blocking, better rushing, and better receiving. All of the pieces are starting to fall together at the right time, and if Gruden can get the defense on track, the Raider’s chances for postseason glory are looking up.
The Raiders beat their rivals
In recent years, the Chiefs are usually atop the AFC West. But this year the Las Vegas Raiders hoped to change that. In their first meeting back in October, the Raiders pulled off a close one 40-32. The second meeting went to the Chiefs in a nail biter, ending 35-31. Both times, the Raider’s offense adapted to anything the Chiefs threw at them.
Chief’s tight end Travis Kelce’s comment about the Raiders was picked up on Twitter: “This is the best Raiders team I’ve played since I’ve been in the league.” He isn’t the only one who thinks this. Redditors had similar comments: “I knew this was gonna happen the second they snagged Gruden. It’s bittersweet after years of having to watch them flounder helplessly.”
Another Reddit comment read, “Only team that could even get close is the 2016 Raiders, and I do think their current squad is better. So yeah, he’s not wrong.” A Raiders fan chimed in, “The Gruden Factor, baby.” With the rest of the league noticing their stellar play, the Raiders need to keep giving their fans something to cheer about long into the playoffs.