ALAMEDA – The Raiders won’t have a winning record this season. At 4-8, that’s now impossible. A .500 record is a pipe dream, as is a playoff berth.
The franchise has precious little to play for these final four games, though head coach Dennis Allen hopes to takes something from these contests, to see his team evolve and improve and learn how to finish.
That could be difficult, considering how many key players have expiring contracts.
Will the players stay engaged? Will they keep fighting for the Silver and Black?
Allen has no doubt.
“There is absolutely nothing that would give me any indication that there is anybody in that locker room that has any give up in them,” Allen said. “I’ve said this from the very beginning, I still believe this: I like this football team. I like the guys that are in that locker room. I understand where we’re at from a record standpoint, but these guys have gone out there and given us everything that they’ve had every single week. I continue to expect to see that for the last four weeks of the season.”
Allen’s confidence comes from team character, and the type of player brought in this offseason. The Raiders preferred football junkies, blue-collar workers who put the team first. There are also several players working for the next big deal, and a solid finish should bring a bigger payday.
There’s also a frustration built in recent weeks about the team’s penchant for blowing leads.
“We don’t finish,” cornerback Mike Jenkins said. “Guys play better ball than us at the end of the game. We have to manage it. We have to get it corrected.”
The Raiders seem committed to improving their lot, at least outwardly so. They talk about righting wrongs and finishing strong although it won’t mean much in the grand scheme. It may ensure their coach sticks around for another season, especially if they can win a few games and improve on last year’s 4-12 mark.
“We have a lot of fighters on this team,” free safety Charles Woodson said. “What guys go through during the week and during games to stay on the field and play is impressive. There are a lot of guys dealing with an array of injuries, but guys continue to get up after they get knocked down. That’s a positive for this team. I’m glad to go out and fight with these men.”