There’s a 17-year age gap between former play-caller Todd Downing and current Oakland Raiders head honcho Jon Gruden. But, apparently, there’s no gap in mundane and rudimentary play-design and game calls between the two.
Do you prefer Jon Downing or Todd Gruden?
Opinion: Half-and-half chalk full of gaffes for Raiders
The lack of a play-action bootleg, a moving pocket, a creative/opportune screen passes mixed with the unwavering reliance on the tight end (hell of a game by Jared Cook) and the checkdown options surely wreaked of the prior conductor of the Raiders’ putrid 2017 offense.
When owner Mark Davis executed a swift exodus of Jack Del Rio and his staff after that disappointing year, Raider Nation felt relieved the Downing (38 years old) offense would be jettisoned.
In comes Gruden (55) and his desire to bring back power football to Oakland. Marshawn Lynch’s first-quarter steam-roller of a touchdown was evidence of Gruden’s plan.
But, as with all plans, they can go awry. Case-in-point: Cook went off for 180 yards receiving, but once Los Angeles defensive boss Wade Phillips decided to put a corner on the Raiders tight end, Oakland’s attack went impotent.
New year, new coach, and an all-too-familiar brain fart of an offense in the second half.
Gone was the purposeful sense of urgency Gruden, quarterback Derek Carr and the rest of the O exuded. It was replaced with inconsistency and shakiness that not only eroded the Raiders’ hopes of keeping pace with the high-octane Rams, but dwindled the furious spark from Raider Nation at O.co.
Not moving the chains allowed momentum to remain in Sean McVay’s corner and he took advantage showing the teacher that the student has surprised the tutelage. It was his Rams teaching his mentor a lesson.
It was McVay giving his quarterback Jared Goff the proper play calls and designs — you know, keys to success — to take advantage of a tiring Raiders defense. Paul Guenther had his undermanned unit hanging with the Rams, but that levy was going to break eventually. Especially with Carr needing AAA.
A highly questionable throw to no one in particular that was picked off, to a crowd-displeasing penchant for throwing the ball away early and often — his second-favorite receiver beside Cook was the sideline — the Raiders offense in the second half was offensive to football viewing eyes.
Surely, it was only Week 1. One ball game in a season with 16 of them. But in a game where Gruden’s grace with a fan base he waxes poetic about lessened after he shipped out the ever-popular Khalil Mack, that was a textbook FUBAR opener.
Time for Gruden and Carr to pick themselves up from the canvas and answer the bell in Denver against their AFC West foe Broncos. You know Von Miller and those dudes are salivating after seeing what the Rams were able to do to the Raiders offense.
Oh, and I can’t leave this unsaid: Did Gruden fib when he said wide receiver Amari Cooper was going to be a focal point of the offense? Surely, the Rams are equipped with two top-flight shutdown corners in Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. Perhaps Phillips’ mastery of defensive schemes was too much for the Raiders to tempt. Perhaps the Rams were doing things on the backend that eliminated the deep strikes. But to not even test them deep or in space with a receiver with elite route-running skills was a disheartening, to say the least.