The more you say it, the worse it sounds.
In all honesty, this is quite a disappointing start to Jon Gruden’s second tenure with the Silver and Black. And while the internet, football analysts, and an angry mob of Twitter accounts are ready to throw in the towel for the season, there is still a lot of football to be played.
Unfortunately, Oakland’s odds of making the playoffs are minimal after the dreadful start. However, this season can still be marked up as a success without the Raiders making the playoffs. This is a team clearly in rebuilding mode that traded away its best player. So, let’s not give up on the Gruden-Carr marriage quite yet. Enough with the pep talk, let’s get into some predictions including the Raiders grabbing Gruden his 2nd-1st win in Oakland.
Jared Cook leads team in Receiving Yards
After going berserk for 180 yards in Week 1, Jared Cook has been relatively quiet recently. Gruden’s offense has seemingly rotated “go-to” receivers each of the first three weeks of the season: Cook, Cooper, then Nelson. So unless Martavis Bryant suddenly starts getting more targets, it should be Cook’s turn to return to the limelight. Also, the Browns have featured a solid group of CB’s, headlined by 2018 first-rounder Denzel Ward. Ward has been as good as advertised thus far, with a 81.9 PFF Grade. So, the Raider receivers could have trouble creating separation, giving Cook and the RB’s a chance to shine in the passing attack.
Baker Mayfield Tosses a TD and Runs for one
The Mayfield era has begun in Cleveland. Mayfield will make his first start today in Oakland. Realistically, Mayfield is probably going to have some success versus this Raiders’ defense who can seemingly only put one good half together. Also, the defensive line has really struggled to generate pressure, which is a rookie QB’s nightmare. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is the Raiders’ best hope for forcing sacks as he will be tasked with creating pressure with blitzes and exotic looks. The Raiders have already surrendered one QB rushing touchdown this season, the costly Case Keenum scamper. A side note, Mayfield ran for 21 rushing TDs in his illustrious college career.
Final Score: Raiders 27 – Browns 20
This is the week the Raiders finish the job, after leading all three previous games at half only to lose. Derek Carr has a way of bouncing back like no other. And Mayfield is still a rookie, prone to turnovers and mistakes. The Oakland defense should have some opportunities to create turnovers, something it has struggled with again this year so far. Overall, Gruden is a much stronger coach than Hue Jackson, who is 10-40-1 (seriously) as an NFL head coach. If the Raiders don’t win this one, they may never win again.