After both the disappointing loss against the Jets and the exciting victory against the Titans, I decided that I was going to withhold judgement of the team until after a sample of four games. Now, after four games, I think I need a couple of more games to make a determination. However, my gut is that our current record is probably indicative of what we are - and notwithstanding my desire for more, I think the realistic expectation for this team is a .500 record. Before the start of the season, I expected a 3-1 start. I thought our offense would clean up on most of the small mistakes and that the defense would improve from the bottom 1/3 in the league to the middle of the pack. Based on the first four games, it appears that both the offense and defense have taken a step back. We can all look at the Raider's game and make arguments to the contrary, but right now - that game is looking like the outlier. On offense, I think this team has cleaned up some of the small errors, but the big difference between this year's squad and last year's sqaud is the lack of running game. Worse, in 4 games I think Slaton has caughed up the ball already twice as many times as he did all last season. I do think that we look much better in the red zone, but Schaub doesn't look as confident as he did at the end of last season. It is hard to be disappointed with the overall production, but we just don't look crisp and the play calling leaves me scratching my head at times. I can't really explain the defense. It doesn't make sense to say, however, I think the entire body of work seems a little better...but the results are worse. I think we have better peices, but our tendency to give up the big play and/or our inability to get off the field in third a long situations just kills this team. In the games we have lost (and even the Titan's game), the defense basically puts the team in a hole by giving the other team 7 points on busted plays. Reasons to be pessimistic: All of the fans on this board are constantly looking for an indicator that this team has turned the corner and is on the road to be consistently good. Unfortunately, long and short term history of this franchise is that we are consistently inconsistent. This season looks no different. Also causing me heartburn is that we lost two at home, which puts more pressure for us to win one or two on the road that we haven't historically won. Reasons to be optimistic: Overall, I think we played poorly the first four games. I think there is tremendous room for improvement and we are still at .500. The offense has been able to move the ball, notwithstanding a lack of running game...which has improved the last two games. The defense can't get any worse. Cushing and Dunta missed the entire pre-season and should be much more ready these next four than they were the first four. We seem to have some options in the defensive backfield and, why we may never be stellar, there is still time to find a combination that will be serviceable. Finally, we already have won one of the tough road games that we needed to steal to make up for the two home losses. Final Thought: Overall, I'm disappointed with the overall play of this team. With the way we ended last year, there was a real hope that we would get off to a fast start this season. In general, I don't feel that this team is always as prepared as it should be and, in addition to the inconsistency of the team as a whole, I think that is a bad reflection of the coaching staff. If this team ends with 8 or 9 wins, I think you have to look for a coach who can take you to that next level. I think we have a lot of talented players here and that we wouldn't need to completely "rebuild" to make the next step. However, Kubes and Co. still have time to prove me wrong on this thought...and I hope to eat crow early and often on this one.