Oakland Raiders: Why 2011 Season Was a Success, Playoffs or Not

What qualifies as a success in the NFL?

Is it a lovable loser finally making the playoffs for the first time in 11 years (The Detroit Lions)? Is it an unorthodox quarterback revitalizing a moribund franchise and becoming the most polarizing figure in sports (Tim Tebow)? Or is hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after the season’s final game the only true measure of success in the NFL?

Some might argue that every season ends with 31 teams failing, but I don’t. If you would have told me in August the Oakland Raiders would have a shot at the AFC West title in Week 17, I’d not only call it a success, I’d be ecstatic—and many long-time Raider fans would agree.

So as we head into the biggest game in Oakland since the 2002-03 AFC Championship game, let’s stop for a moment and consider the state of the Raider Nation.

Just think of what this team has overcome this season: Another new head coach; the death of the man who personified the Raiders, owner Al Davis; a season-ending injury to the only viable quarterback on the roster; a season-ending injury to a running back who was leading the league in rushing; Chuck Bresnahan as defensive coordinator.

Any of these developments could have easily doomed this team, but the Raiders persevered. Granted, it hasn’t always been pretty, and it’s hard not to look back on this season and ponder all the opportunities Oakland let slip away, but let’s consider the facts.


The Raiders won’t finish with a losing record for the second consecutive year

How quickly we forget, Raider Nation. It was just two years ago that the Raiders finished 5-11 (again), completing their seventh straight losing season. It still hurts to even think about it. This franchise was a laughing stock for most of this century before 2010. When Tom Cable famously said last season, “We’re not losers anymore,&rdqu...

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