In a perfect Raiders summer scenario, Matt Schaub would be cruising toward the Sept. 7 opener without any need to prove anything to anybody anymore.
If things were going ideally, tales and highlights of rookie linebacker Khalil Mack's exploits would be reverberating throughout the NFL and the Raiders fan base.
An optimal Raiders team would have DJ Hayden healthy, practicing every day and ready to launch into his second NFL season.
If all that and many other things broke just right, coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie probably would be feeling a lot more comfortable heading into this regime's pivotal third season.
With everything lined up perfectly, maybe Allen and McKenzie could carve out a winning season -- and jump off the combined hot seat along the way.
But the results through two exhibitions and with just three weeks to go before Week 1 vs. the New York Jets, do not look to be quite so comforting.
The Raiders' reconfigured offensive line hasn't helped him at all, but Schaub so far looks like a very limited quarterback.
If anything, rookie Derek Carr seems to already be the more dynamic quarterback ...
But Carr was knocked out of Friday night's game against Detroit with what Allen said was a concussion.
This is clearly Schaub's starting job to lose. But it might not be pretty to watch him do exactly that over the first few weeks or months of the season.
Interestingly, when I asked Allen about Mack playing so deep into Friday's game -- Mack got a sack and registered his only other tackle against Detroit's third-string offense -- Allen himself brought up Mack's status as the No. 5 overall pick.
"The only way you can get better is get experience," Allen said. "I know he was a high draft choice, but he needs to play. And that's the only way he's going to get better."
That isn't quite the way the 49ers talked about Aldon Smith or the Denver Broncos talked about Von Miller during their 2011 rookie preseasons -- and remember, Allen was a member of that Broncos defensive staff.
Obviously, it's very early in Mack's career and he should step in as a good producer right away. But is he going to be the immediately dominant playmaker Allen's defense badly needs?
So far there are zero signs of that.
And the Raiders' No. 1 secondary, with 49ers imports Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers in featured roles, has been shredded through two exhibition games.
So, though the Raiders certainly have time to settle everything, you would have to say that Allen and McKenzie have not quite pushed this franchise into a new golden age.
Not just yet.
Again, the games we have seen don't count. The ones that do count haven't started yet.
Veteran additions Maurice Jones-Drew, James Jones and Justin Tuck still look solid, young players such as Mychal Rivera and Sio Moore are good pieces, the rookie class led by Mack, Carr and Gabe Jackson has hope, and veterans Tyvon Branch, Marcel Reece, Stefen Wisniewski and Charles Woodson are valuable.
But for a team that has missed the playoffs every season since 2002 and is coming off back-to-back 4-12 records under McKenzie and Allen, a mere handful of better-than-average players is just not enough.
To compete with Kansas City and Denver and this rough upcoming schedule (which includes the entire NFC West), the Raiders need more good players. They need stars.
They need Schaub to command the offense, Mack to fly to the ball, Hayden to get on the field, and a host of other players to raise the level of Raiders football beyond dredge and doom.
The Raiders need everything to break right to salvage the Allen/McKenzie tenure, and they need it to happen rapidly.
It would be entertaining to see if it did all break that way. I'm just asking: Where are the signs in this preseason that it will?
Raiders' pass defense set for another
tough test against Green Bay. PAGE 3