Hysteria! Dysfunction I say!
That was the negative notion media folk took when Jon Gruden dropped a CM Punk-esque pipe bomb during the media presser after Wednesday’s practice.
“You look at the film, we had him wide open deep,” Gruden said of wide receiver Amari Cooper. “We didn’t go there. He was open a couple of times and for whatever reason we didn’t go that route. Yeah, we want to get him going. That’s easier said than done now.”
Gruden was quickly chastised by pundits for breaking an unwritten rule of coaching: Do not call out a player in public.
I don’t have such qualms. After all, rendering Cooper invisible in that Monday Night debacle — I digress, the first half was entertaining — was quite public, no?
It left many, myself included, with the inquiry: Amari, where art thou?
Apparently, Coop was open after breaking free from coverage downfield, according to the All-22 film. But alas, all for naught.
Where I disagree with pundits is the notion this condemnation of Derek Carr from Gruden is the death knell to his tenure as franchise Raiders quarterback. It was one instance — albeit on a national primetime stage — and placing a red stamp on any team after the first week is a fool’s errand. Gruden and Carr can get back into the lab and devise a diabolical plan to destroy the doubters.
Yet, that doesn’t absolve Oakland from being questioned openly and directly about a questionable tactic, especially after Gruden announced to the football world Cooper — who reminds the coach of former Raiders great Tim Brown (Gruden’s words) — would be the focal point of the Raiders aerial bombardment. Surely, the Los Angeles Rams’ imposing defensive line and suffocating secondary cannot be ignored in this case. Kroenke’s Millionaire Club defense is stout. And, at times, Carr was relegated to the short, quick-strike passes to exploit the Rams’ less-than-stellar linebacker crew (31-year-old Jared Cook went bonkers). Aaron Donald and his menacing ways collapses the pocket resulting in Carr going the route he and Gruden decided long ago: Throw the ball away and go the checkdown to avoid the big mistake.
But what in the blue hell was that look right, then lob it left interception Carr threw up for grabs? That literally looked like the real-life version of what happens when you press the wrong button when you’re trying to pass in Madden.
Serious question, folks: If Cooper is ever to ascend to that elite level Brown attained, shouldn’t he be given the opportunity, the chance to make a play against even the best of corner backs?
In hopes of creating more big-play instances, the Raiders brought back Martavis Bryant. A wideout with jets to boot, both Cooper and Carr spoke of MB’s potential impact.
“He is really going to take the top off of defenses,” Cooper said referring to Bryant. “We’re excited. He is a guy that’s going to really open things up for us.”
“He can split double teams. Teams can try and play certain coverages with him, but he’s so fast that doesn’t matter,” Carr added about Bryant. “You make one false step … he can be gone like that … he can do things that other people just don’t do.”
Here’s my issue with what Carr said. Cooper. Can. Do. The. Same. Exact. Thing. Use the Spongebob Squarepants meme if you want.
- After Carr’s second-half jittery performance, I got a text stating: “This is the Carr we saw when Fresno State took on USC, remember?” My retort was: At least that version of DC took shots downfield.
- Jalen Richard is going to get plenty of snaps considering he’s the best running back in the stable catching the rock. But ey his drop, big at the moment, was even more egregious as there was nary a defender in front of him if he had snared the pass.
- Gruden used an array of exotic formations and put Cooper in the slot. Tremendous! That must continue.
- Justin Ellis was placed in injured reserve with a foot injury (reportedly tore it up.) Rookie P.J. Hall is ailing with his foot in a walking boot.
- That resulted in the additions of Johnathan Hankins and Clinton McDonald. Hankins is a run-stuffing nose tackle that can get to the passer while McDonald is more of a rusher who can occasionally slow the run.
- Is Karl Joseph’s height such a detriment its causing Reggie Nelson to be the go-to option as a starting safety? KJ and Erik Harris can’t be worse than the aging one, right?