The Raiders have spent the last few years looking less like the Silver and Black and more like something else.
It's tough to blame them. As a franchise in a multi-year transition ahead of a move to Las Vegas -- things weren't exactly pleasant in their final two seasons in Oakland -- the Raiders didn't resemble the club of the Al Davis era, but one that was less swaggering and more scrambling. Jon Gruden could scowl all he wanted, but it would be more about the on-field struggles than about his team's chances of dominating an opponent.
Davis looks to the team's new home of Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas as a symbol of the team's bright future, one embodied by the first-round selection of Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III. That pick would have made his Davis' father proud, the younger Davis believes.
"Henry Ruggs was the player I wanted for the last six months," Davis said, via an excellent feature in The Athletic on Davis' adjustments as an owner in Las Vegas. "My dad was always trying to replace Cliff (Branch) with so many different types of guys. ... Speed, speed, speed and we really got away from that the last five, six, seven years. We really didn't have anybody that could run. Nobody could run.
"I watched Henry Ruggs and his speed and quickness and his strength were pretty impressive. And then if you see his baseball highlights, my God. He made some nice tackles on interceptions and he'll block too. He is a complete player. I was just so thrilled that we drafted him. Maybe that's the piece that we haven't had that's Raiders football. You throw it deep the first play and the safety is worried the whole game."
That last line is classic Raiders ideology, which has since permeated all levels of the game to varying degrees. Speed kills, as they say, and for the first time since around the final months of first-round bust Darrius Heyward-Bey's Raiders career, they have a legitimate burner in their receiving corps. No longer will they have to rely on Amari Cooper -- a very good receiver in his own right, but not quite a speed demon -- as their best deep threat.
It'll be up to Ruggs to produce, of course, but it's quite a pairing -- new stadium and new toy for the offense -- to bring to a new home, even if it might be some time before a full house can be there to see it.