OAKLAND -- A significant thing happened after the Raiders lost to the Saints 38-17, after they dropped their third game in a row by a combined score of 135 to 69, after their record fell to a hopeless, hide-your-head-under-the-pillow 3-7.
Mark Davis, son of Al and current owner of the team, entered the silent, mostly empty, very gray locker room. He stood in the area where the offensive linemen get dressed. He made it clear he was available to talk, made it clear no questions were impertinent or off-limits. He wanted to — needed to — get something off his chest. There he stood.
The reporters got to work and he worked with them.
Are the Raiders rebuilding?
"I don't know what the word would be," he said, looking for the word. "I know that we didn't have the talent at the beginning of the year to be a Super Bowl team. I thought that we had definitely potential to get, maybe, in the playoffs and beat our division. Obviously, that hasn't happened."
This was an opening salvo filled with frustration and criticism and it meant the coaches — especially Dennis Allen — have not extracted the most from the players.
And Davis was mostly correct. The Raiders are rapidly getting worse and their defense is disgraceful. It's like they don't even have a defense, just a bunch of paid actors who stand there and watch opponents run past them. And all that is on Allen. But Davis was wrong about one thing. He always was wrong to think his team could win its division. The Raiders are a mirage of a football team — rookie owner, rookie general manager, rookie head coach, inexcusable roster. They never stood a chance.
Does Davis still feel the Raiders can turn things around this year?
"Take it game by game,' he said, "but, uh, I don't know. I know they're going to fight."
Not exactly a vote of confidence from Davis — and you've got to love him for expressing real, unfiltered, unedited thoughts. He does not know if the Raiders can turn it around. He has serious doubts. He should because the Raiders cannot turn it around this season.
What were his goals heading into the season?
"I think finding a direction for the franchise," he said, "and moving forward and seeing progress week to week, but you know that's still possible."
Now Davis was arrowing in on Allen. The phrase "finding a direction," surely implies Allen has not found a direction. Well, he's found "down" but that's not an acceptable direction.
Is the challenge of making the Raiders good more daunting than Davis expected?
"No, I wouldn't say that," he said. "I wouldn't say that. I think, again, it's just the results of the game. You win or lose. We haven't been winning and it hasn't been close the last three weeks."
More implied criticism — actually, not so implied, kind of blunt.
Is the subpar roster, the roster lacking depth, the result of salary cap problems?