By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 at 8:58 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Anyone else less than overwhelmed by the announcement of the 2011 NFL schedule?
I’ll grant that the first quarter of the season has some interest because there is a remote idea of what a team may be like based on the previous year.
But far too often games which seemed to be something huge when the schedule came out are something less than that based on injuries and team performance.
When you throw this year’s work stoppage into the mix, the 2011 schedule has never been less relevant, despite the NFL’s best effort to keep the giant hamster wheel turning.
Conventional wisdom means little as one season turns to the next, even less when there’s the possibility of throwing everything together at the last minute in terms of free agency, signing draft, picks, etc.
That’s why it’s hard to get too worked up over the Raiders visiting Lambeau Field on Dec. 11. Even under normal circumstances, forecasting significance for a December game in April is pure folly. Throw in the lockout, and it’s a complete waste of time.
The Raiders seem to have learned their lesson about complaining about the schedule in recent years. It’s hard to forget the grousing that went on when they visited New England to open the 2005 season, a year when they signed free agents Randy Moss, Lamont Jordan and instead of taking the tact of surprising the Patriots, there was an undercurrent of whining about having to open against the champions on the road.
Prediictably, an opportunity became a loss.
As has been the case with the Raiders in recent years, it comes down to the start. Oakland never seems to be able to dig itself out of a poor start and has lost eight straight openers.
No complaints in 2011. Denver and Buffalo may be on the road, but if you’re an 8-8 team with hope of moving into the playoff realm, it’s a chance for a 2-0 statement against two teams coming off double-digit losses.
Then you host the Jets and Patriots, win at least one, and at 3-1 suddenly the Raiders are more than a curiosity.
But there’s forecasting a schedule and then there’s actually playing one.
Bad teams worry about the hand they were dealt. Good ones simply make the most of it.
And since it’s impossible to know at this point when the cards will actually be on the table, and who will be there to play them, folding a hand and waiting until the next round has never been a better idea.