The Raiders used to have an unwritten contract with their fans: Just win, baby.
They still have an unwritten contract, but the contract's wording is different. What is the new contract? Just show progress, baby.
The Raiders are trying hard to become a relevant NFL franchise. To become relevant, they need to improve, need to show fans and owner Mark Davis the curve has a steady upward arc. Are the Raiders doing that?
Yes, they are.
If you define progress in wins and losses, you may not see the upward arc or even care. And let's be frank. The Raiders won't have a great win-loss record this season. The progress is just beginning and the arc doesn't move steadily upward. It lurches.
How do you define progress?
You ask if the Raiders' games are more competitive. You look at the schedule and you see they don't get blown out — not like they used to, not like the Jacksonville Jaguars (why is that name familiar?) get blown out this season.
Not getting blown out is progress.
The Raiders play hard all game long. They compete. The days of Richard Seymour and guys like him loafing on the field and in practice are over. This team is developing pride and a work ethic, although I can't abide that work-ethic cliché. Sometimes a team has to start with clichés and move on from there.
The Raiders' defense actually can stop teams. And that's different from past years when it was a joke.
And although the Raiders' offense is lagging — the offensive line is a mess — Oakland is attempting to develop a quarterback. This does not mean Terrelle Pryor is the quarterback of the future. Who knows? But the attempt to develop Pryor is there, and general manager Reggie McKenzie was wise not to keep Carson “A Pick a Minute” Palmer and to go through Matt Flynn and abandon him and finally light on Pryor.