The Gruden-Guenther Comparison is Stark

Raiders HC Jon Gruden’s side of the ball is generating an outstanding 6.2 yards per play. That’s good for 4th in the NFL. See, Gruden still got it. 

Raiders: The Gruden-Guenther Comparison is Stark

Paul Guenther’s group, however, is allowing an alarming 6.1 yards per play. That’s good for 5th worst int he league. See, Guenther … ummm … he … 

Those are stats to bash the Oakland Raiders — some will say. Reality — others will say. 

I go for the latter — reality. 

But it begs the question: Are you surprised the offense is miles ahead of the defense? 

Through seven games of the 2019 campaign, Gruden’s wizardry casts a humongous shadow over Guenther’s futility. The head coach does have the ability to say “I get the most out of my bunch, Paul, why don’t you?” But the defensive coordinator can fire right back with “Because you saddled me with this roster.”

Both are true. 

Injuries have hit both sides of the ball in Oakland and both coaches adjusted the best way they could. Gruden is indeed coaching up his group while Guenther is in purgatory with his lackluster bunch. But, as the de facto personnel man — wax poetic about general manager Mike Mayock all you want, but we know who is calling the shots — Gruden is the one that does all the shopping. The offensive roster is put together with much more care than the defensive side. 

And Guenther cooks with the ingredients he’s given. 

The results have made for bland meals — to say the least. Take for example the Raiders most recent outing, a tilt in Houston with the Texans. Gruden had his offense humming, but when the Raiders needed it most, couldn’t stop Houston — even when they had the win in the grasp … literally. 

Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson escaped from a would-be sack and threw a go-ahead (and eventual game-winning) dart to tight end Darren Fell. All this with one eye after getting inadvertently kicked by Raiders defensive end Arden Key (who couldn’t bring down Watson for the sack). 

“He is a spectacular player,” Gruden said of the Texans QB. “He wills it out of his team, and he makes something out of nothing … You see Michael Jordan, you see some of the great athletic plays in any sport, you’ve got to tip your cap to the guy.”

Ah, MJ. Guenther stands no chance against an athlete of Jordan’s caliber, no? 

“We tried to sling him down rather than put our weight on him and bring him down,” Key lamented after the game. “That’s a technique issue that we have to work on. … If I get that sack … I should have made that play.”

“They capitalized on our mistakes, and it’s all about not beating yourselves,” added rookie defensive end Clelin Ferrell, who had a tackle and a pass block. “We were getting pressure, but we didn’t get him to the ground, enough.

“This was a really big game, and a win would have really capped our road trip. This one hurt, really, really bad.”

One can’t ignore the progress the Raiders have made under Gruden in Year 2. The offense proves it can score even against the better defenses in the league and youth isn’t an obstacle. 

“I feel pretty good about the progress we’re making, and I’m going to continue to beat that drum. We’re building our team around a lot of young players that are playing critical roles. I’m really proud of our young players. That doesn’t mean we’re a finished product. We want to win some of these tight games, so we’ll continue to work hard.”

The latter part of that quote most definitely applies to Guenther’s defense. 

Instead of being 4-3 with a much-needed home game, the Raiders are 3-4 and gear up for another quality signal caller, this time, Detroit Lions gunslinger Matthew Stafford. Here’s a brief rundown: Stafford is 4th in the NFL in passing TDs (16); 5th in yards per attempt (8.4), 3rd in yards per completion (13.0) and 4th in yards per game (299.0).

That’s a bevy of touchdowns and yards for a defense that sports the 2nd worst pass defense in terms of TD throws allowed (19). 

What the Raiders have going in their favor is a power-run offense coupled with a QB who throws quickly and accurately. Detroit is a loose defense as well. 

The Raiders’ MO heading into Sunday’s clash with Detroit should remain the same: Run the ball, control the clock and beat ’em over the top. 

But then, I saw the percentages…

The Raiders offense scores on 34.3 percent of its drives while the defense gives up points on 43.8 of the opposition’s drives. The Lions score on 40.5 percent of its drives and yields points on 40.5 percent of opponent’s drives. 

What will the numbers be after Sunday’s game?

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