Dissecting the Jon Gruden-Derek Carr “dilemma” is the hot topic among Raider Nation – and for good reason. The relationship between the head coach and quarterback, unlike any other bond, is a special one and can be the difference between success and failure in the NFL.
Yet, in the Oakland Raiders loss to the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday, Carr’s performance was merely a spoke in a wheel bent and eventually dismantled by the Purple People Eaters. No joke, Minny – in all phases of the game – served the Raiders their own asses on a silver platter and the tray was bent.
Oakland was lethargic and passive while Minnesota was resolute and steadfast in opening a robust and tall can of whoop ass. The Vikings offense turned Raider defenders inside out, while the Purple People Eaters defense ransacked and took the Silver & Black’s lunch money.
The domination was so thorough, a Vikings columnist couldn’t help but state: “Carr being visibly afraid of the Vikings’ pass rush.”
Perhaps the Viking’s head honcho Mike Zimmer said it best.
“They max protected on third down just about every single time,” Zimmer said. “I think they were afraid of the blitzes. … People to not want us to blitz them. So be it. We just get a chance to rush on tight ends. We get a chance to cover.”
The most disheartening aspect of the 1-2 Raiders was how feeble they looked. Losing to a more talented team with superior coaching is one thing. To do so while looking like a squad more apt to play in the XFL is another. The woeful effort was as continuation of the second-quarter disappearing act the team had two Sunday’s ago in a reality-check loss to Kansas City.
The Raiders don’t even look competitive and that’s truly disconcerting.
“I don’t know if I would say flat,” Gruden said when asked about how the team fell so quickly behind 21-0 against Minnesota. “They took the opening kickoff down the field and scored, and then the crowd gets in the game and we’re three-and-out. Shortly after that, it’s 14-0. … If you fall behind this team early, they have the closers that make it very difficult on you, and the noise doesn’t help.”
“We have to get better as a team. … We’re putting our team together,” Gruden continued. “You can say the Chiefs and Vikings are as good of teams as there are in football.”
Fair enough, coach.
However, isn’t it also fair to expect the team in Year 2 under a head coach to be much more combative? The Raiders played like a team in its inaugural year as an expansion team against Minnesota. And that is something that shouldn’t be happening. Not with Gruden having a hand-picked coaching staff and general manager.
Was that Week 1 performance a mirage? An anomaly? (Granted, it came against an equally woeful Denver Broncos squad).
I posed a question to Raider Nation on Twitter after last Sunday’s defeat.
The Raiders road slate is indeed brutal, but not insurmountable. At Colts, vs. Bears (in London), Bye, at Packers, at Texans. The Raiders don’t need to win even half of those games. The team needs to show some fortitude and grit. At least more than what they’ve shown in three quarters against KC and four more against Minny.
For all his faults as the Raiders signal caller under center, Carr is the ultimate optimist.
“This is not the same feeling I’ve had in the past where it’s like, ‘it’s hard to get a yard right now,’ know what I mean?” Carr said. “We feel very confident, but we just didn’t finish our drives this game.”
I see …
Yet, in order to finish something, you need to start something.
And this coming Sunday, against a hobbled Indianapolis Colts squad, it’s high time the Raiders start proving their a capable NFL team.
Otherwise, the Raiders are Humpty Dumpty and all the King’s men (Gruden et al) can’t put him back together again.