Some people are fans of the Las Vegas Raiders. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Las Vegas Raiders. This 2021 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: Las Vegas Raiders.
Your 2020 record: 8-8. Featuring a 6-3 start out of the gate, including a genuinely thrilling upset over the Chiefs at Arrowhead. [Gruden voice] Tell you what … this team was ready to TAKE IT to the NFL. Ready to charge into the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and to make a STATEMENT when they did.
Let’s see what their opponents did to them after that!
The best thing about these Raiders is that, every year, they start out red-hot, then Albert Breer and every other dipshit start tweeting shit like, “Hmmm, I guess Jon Gruden maybe knows a little something about football?” And then they finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs. Last year was no different. But as always, it’s the details that matter when it comes to the Raiders fucking themselves with a shoe. So let’s recount some of those details right now:
- They played the inaugural Vegas season to an empty stadium, which made good practice for the coming reality that awaits them.
- Al Davis’s wife lit his memorial torch at that stadium, presumably because Davis’s son looks like he would cower in fear at the sight of fire.
- Their starting safety got his shit ruined by a camera cart.
- Their head coach pretended to have COVID in order to motivate his players, only it turned out he was only pretending to pretend and actually had the goddamn thing.
- They all hung out together maskless at a charity event.
- Their coach wore the wrong hat.
- They injected air into their own offensive tackle and nearly killed him. Hey man, only the Chargers are allowed to pull that shit.
- Their entire offensive line got put on COVID reserve and then got taken off just in time to give up three sacks to Tampa Bay in a 25-point loss.
- They got absolutely fucking drubbed by a Falcons team that had already cashed in their season.
- After Gregg Williams handed them a miracle win against the Jets, they turned right around and let Ryan Fitzpatrick miracle them into the sewer three weeks later. There was no zero blitz to blame for this one. The Raiders had actual defenders back there.
- They lost in overtime to the CHARGERS. Do you know how hard it is to choke against the Chargers? That’d be like me losing to my mom in the Oklahoma drill. It’s not possible. The Chargers walked off that game thanks to a QB dive at the goal line. Everything the Chargers fucked up in every previous game, they were able to do correctly against this team. It wasn’t a coincidence.
Your coach: Jon Gruden. The Raiders will never win anything important so long as Gruden is coach. So they may as well go the full Vegas with him in charge. Give him his own entrance music (he’ll pick something by Stone Sour). Deck him out in a sequined Raiders track suit. Hire an underage Mongolian acrobat to contort inside Gruden’s hat as they cut to commercial. Station Penn and Teller on either side of Gruden all game long to pull exotic fruits out from underneath his headset and to make him vanish during two-minute drills. Build a 20-foot Chucky statue at midfield and have its eyes shoot fucking LASERS. Don’t half-ass it. This man was born to coach while standing atop a grand piano made entirely of bulletproof glass while doing an encore performance of Spider 2 Y Banana.
Gruden has never had a winning season since returning to this franchise three years ago. His team’s aggregate point differential during his second tenure is negative-327. He has a winning percentage of 15-30 in December and January since winning the Super Bowl 19 years ago. The only thing that Gruden has proven GOOD at lately has been bloodbaths. You know about the Khalil Mack trade. You know that Gruden will never be happy until he’s bludgeoned Derek Carr to death with a bowling pin. But what you may not know is that the bloodbath is STILL going.
If anyone can get to the bottom of why respectable front office types are fleeing the Raiders, it’s TOTALLY the Raiders. Jon Gruden isn’t gonna stop until he finds out why these people didn’t have the HEART to work for the stupidest team in football. Josh McDaniels has so, so much to learn from this man, and from Mark Davis, too!
As it stands now, the Raiders are a TV-archy, with Gruden and GM Mike Mayock shoving out anyone who hasn’t cried out “THIS LEAGUE” in an announcing booth, or is not related to someone already in the organization. There are four separate father-son duos on the coaching masthead. The Raiders are the fatherboy team.
Do they have a Guy on the coaching staff? Edgar Bennett! Remember that Guy? He was really good! Expect him to mysteriously quit this team six minutes from now.
Your quarterback: Derek Carr. His understudy remains Marcus Mariota. Gruden’s ultimate goal of benching Carr for good will end up stymied every week when Mariota is listed as doubtful with a stubbed toe.
Nathan Peterman is still here.
What’s new that sucks: Your line! With Gruden, it’s vital that every position group on this team be torn down and rebuilt for NO reason, and that it be done in stages. Gruden already took apart his own defensive line. Then he ruined his wideouts. Now it’s the offensive line’s turn. If neither COVID nor team doctors could kill this unit off, then by God, Gruden will. Trent Brown was shipped back to New England. Rodney Hudson, who was a top-10 center last season, got dealt to the Cardinals in a “win” for Mayock because Mayock wanted to release him outright. And guard Gabe Jackson was dealt to the Seahawks. Vegas wanted an NFL team. They got a fucking pawn shop. The only lineman left in this sorry-ass rotation? You guessed it.
FEELS GREAT! Would it shock you to learn that many other Raiders decided to retire this offseason? Of course not. Everyone who plays for the Raiders hates them. And everyone still here is merely waiting for the check to clear before they can finally escape. Only the new players have yet to understand the misery that accompanies being in Gruden’s employ. So let’s meet them right now!
Your new starting right tackle is rookie Alex Leatherwood. When the Raiders reach for a draft pick every year, they don’t do it like boring-ass Dave Gettleman does it. They do it with flair, finding guys that absolutely NO ONE wants. I’m not even sure Alex Leatherwood has ever played right tackle before. I think Mayock saw him working on an oil rig and his draft brain got real horny real fast.
Your new defensive end is Yannick Ngakoue, who’s great for 10 sacks a year and absolutely nothing else. Three teams have employed Ngakoue in the past 12 months. All of them decided that his pass-rushing skills weren’t worth any of his other liabilities. Your new backup DT is former 49er Solomon Thomas, who can’t rush the passer at all. Your new Sam linebacker is Tanner Muse, who sounds like a shitty country music contestant on The Voice. Your new backup running back is Kenyan Drake, whose days as a useful DFS flex option are now officially over. Your new wideout is John Brown, who’ll revert back to being a deep threat who never catches anything now that he’s a Raider.
What has always sucked: The Raiders are trashy. Their owner is trashy. Their coach is trashy. Their favorite players are trashy. And their fans, new and old, are absolutely trashy. Every time I write about the Raiders, like now, one of those fans will send me an email stating that I am both jealous and gay. And all of those fans put “Raider” before their actual name online, like it’s an honorary title: Raiderbrendan79@hotmail.com and such and such. This is the only organization in the world that could possibly INCREASE their classiness by relocating to Vegas. And even in that, they’ll still fail.
Everyone loved that Jets touchdown, but guess what? Henry Ruggs III only scored one other touchdown all season. He’s a fucking bust.
Ratto says: Club honcho Marc Badain, the only person to survive the P.F. Chang years without complaint, quit in late July. There’s some skullduggery going on here that ends only when Badain is found wandering I-10 with a Forrest Gump beard and a sign that reads, “Will Bilk Your State’s Treasury For Food.” Gus Bradley, who once coached in Jacksonville, is the defensive coordinator of this barn without doors, all as part of his NFL Stunt Man series that will culminate in his being shot out of a cannon into a stadium abutment. BEST NAME TO HEAR ON TV: Assistant director of college scouting Teddy Atlas Jr.
What might not suck: When I said the Raiders might inadvertently become cool this season, I meant it.
HEAR IT FROM RAIDERS FANS!
I’ve been a raiders fan since 1982. I’ve seen them go 6-3 to start a season and end up 8-8 like 10 times. And yet last year I was shocked they went from 6-3 to 8-8. I’m a fucking moron.
All you need to know to understand the Raiders commitment to quality football is that a big chunk of their new stadium is a field level end zone club designed for socializing, not watching the game.
Because a day after the Las Vegas move was announced, I saw some asshole with a Vegas Raiders sticker on his truck in Portland, Oregon.
We’re entering our fourth year of the Jon Gruden experiment with seven more seasons to go. I’m certain we won’t win a playoff game in that span. When his contract mercifully ends, I’ll be nearly 40, and since I started supporting this team as a child we’ll have had one to two playoff appearances and zero wins. I’ll probably be a senior fucking citizen by the time this team manages to get into Conference Championship, God forbid a Super Bowl.
Fuck this team with a COVID shot that Derek Carr definitely hasn’t gotten.
I am a Raiders fan living in Cleveland surrounded by Browns fans. At age 21 my friends and I attended a Browns-Raiders game in Cleveland. A local strip club had buses ready after the game to transport drunken fans to the club.
We drunkenly and reflexively boarded the strip club bus. It was already full of significantly older Raiders fans. Commitment to excellence.
Because the first time anything bad happens for, to, or near Carl Nassib, he’s going to have the worst of humanity screaming things about him that would English soccer fans blush.
Because we’ve had little brother syndrome follow us around to three different cities now.
Because as of this writing there remains six years, 24 weeks, two days, 22 hours and one minute left on Gruden’s contract. Our owner will only eat if it were a special at PF Chang’s.
Because Richie Incognito, Tom Cable and Nathan Peterman remain employed and I can’t decide which is the more unforgivable sin.
Because 8-8 isn’t even an option anymore.
Derek Carr looks like shaved head Brendon Urie, eyeliner included.
Even though I do not personally believe it, I have defended the Khalil Mack trade to friends and family multiple times saying “with that draft capital, the numbers make sense” like a fucking tool.
Fuck you Jon Gruden. Script more than the first fucking 10 plays, you shithead.
Because this thing will surely reappear at a tailgate party in Vegas.
I got stuck with this vagabond Superfund site of a football team due to Bo Jackson. I was just at the right age, and I remember being a 13 year old thinking Bo and the LOS ANGELES Raiders would rule the NFL forever.
Oh boy, was I in for a surprise.
There was this really brief moment in the early 00s when our horror movie actor of a coach guided them to a few games over .500. And then he won a Super Bowl, but only after being traded to another team and beating the Raiders because he knew they were too stupid to change their playcalls.
The only actual good moments I can remember as a Raider fan was that the big boss at work had Charger season tickets and gave me his ticket to the Raiders game because he was afraid to attend and get stabbed.
Now this listless Titanic that somehow never reaches the ocean bottom has set up shop in a town that literally has no water. I boldly declared to all my friends, who gleefully text me all manner of Raiders trash talk for 17 (and only 17) weeks per season, that I was divorcing this team and that this move to another town was one too many. Then I found myself in 2020 looking on ESPN Gamecast to see how Derek Carr was doing.
I am stuck with these guys forever, even when they move into a new stadium in Siberia. Fuck my life.
We finally get to see what happens when you fill a brand new stadium with pharmaceutical conference attendees and visiting fans who care more about forgetting they have wives than watching a game. Much like Vegas itself, this seedy, gritty, underbelly of a franchise has been refurbished into a sterile version of the past that sells itself on the fact that it used to be interesting.
The only fun things we had were our braindead fans who worshipped the team even though we’ve had exactly zero reasons to do so since the 2003 AFC Championship. (By the way, since that game, Steve McNair has more playoff wins than the Raiders — it turns out belonging to this drunken blunder of a franchise is a MUCH bigger setback than being dead for 12 years). We’d lose — oh, we’d lose — but we’d at least be entertained by a band of societal outcasts getting wasted in Dollar Store costumes and instigating a fight with some poor bastard in the parking lot. That’s a tradition you can set your stolen watch to.
But now, the stadium will be as lifeless as our defense. Just a bunch of hungover tourists dragging themselves from their hotel rooms and spending the whole game googling which STIs are transmissible by mouth. We’re now what the Cardinals had been for so long: a forgettable, nondescript, mediocre franchise somehow finding a way to tread water in the middle of a desert.
Submissions for the Defector NFL previews are closed. Next up: Miami Dolphins.