Raider Ramble Roundtable for Week 12

Welcome to the Week 12 edition of the Raider Ramble Roundtable where some of the Ramble’s finest contributors and guests will bring you their thoughts on all the rumblings, rumors, stats, and even fake news.

Without further ado let’s get into it as the Ramble welcomes Scott Gulbransen of Silver and Black Today.

What were your expectations for Gruden and Mayock this season?

Ryan Holmes

I expected for Gruden and Mayock to end up 7-9 entering the season. I hoped for the team to be competitive and for the rookies drafted in top two rounds to show promise, which they have. Additionally I have been pleasantly surprised by the way the team recovered considering the Antonio Brown fiasco during training camp. Mayock put his foot down with the whole Brown situation and proved he could stand up to Gruden as well.

Scott Gulbransen

Coming into the season, I really believed the two men were on the same page and were methodically going about shaping the roster with players that fit the mold they want. It’s not hard to look at the result of the 2019 draft and say they far exceeded expectations. Also, with Kolton Miller improving, Gruden’s 2018 class looks better too.

Ray Aspuria

Not going to lie: I expected Gruden to dominate the draft and for Mayock, being the film junkie, to end up providing reports on cats Gruden won’t select. Based on what we’ve seen so far, that notion got blown up like J.J. Watt getting manhandled by Trent Brown. What Gruden and Mayock have done is acquire players that fit the Raider profile as they see it and have the coaching to develop said acquisitions. That’s not an easy thing. Teams miss on that commonly, even the Raiders. But the two “TV guys” have walked into Alameda and instituted change for an organization falsely claiming a commitment to excellence.

Chris Simmons

With Gruden and Mayock (I’m calling them Jayock) in their first year together, I would have been fine with a 6-10 season with a few near misses against teams like the Chiefs, Texans, (last years) Chargers, and maybe a shoot-out with the then Andrew Luck led Colts. Instead, the goal posts have been moved and anything less than .500 would be a pretty big disappointment. The team is certainly still flawed but for the first time since maybe Gruden’s first time as coach, the Raiders consistently have a coaching advantage in almost every game with an excellent evaluator waiting in the wings every April.

Which player has improved most since Week 1?

 

Scott Gulbransen

Yes, this is an easy one: Maxx Crosby. I’d give an honorable mention to Tahir Whitehead who has quietly, but importantly, led that thin linebacking corps and the defense overall.

Ray Aspuria

Maxx Crosby. The fourth-round pick from Eastern Michigan was a “developmental” type. Mayock even noted during the draft day call, Crosby needed to get stronger and that was the only thing holding the prospect back. Crosby did a great job getting stronger in the time between draft day and camp and it’s showing. A relentless motor coupled with physical attributes to boot is a fortuitous turn for the Raiders. Crosby is making rookie-year impact for a team famished for pass-rushing talent.

Chris Simmons

Derek Carr. Carr came into the season with solid, if sometimes questionable decision making, and a higher than average floor. This season, however, he has quieted questions about his longevity and fit in Gruden’s system. He has demonstrated a mastery of Gruden’s passing concepts and audibled into the perfect runs while pushing that pesky YPA further up and keeping turnovers down.

Ryan Holmes

Kolton Miller. Miller has made positive strides in his development in Year 2. His run blocking has improved although he will still miss some cut blocks on the back-side of runs from time to time. He has held up in pass protection much better than expected with added weight in the off-season. While he did play most of 2018 with an injury, I didn’t expect him to play as well as he has. Credit should also be given to LG Richie Incognito as I believe Miller has benefited from having the former Pro Bowl guard lined up next to him.

Which player has you most concerned moving forward?

 

Ray Aspuria

Tyrell Williams. This is based purely on if he remains the “No. 1” wide receiver in 2020. A foot injury dampened his contribution this season but he did start the year of well with touchdown catch after touchdown catch. While Williams and the physical tools, he strikes me as a solid complimentary receiver and not an unquestioned No. 1 wideout. Ty has eclipsed the century mark in receiving once in his career and is best used as a vertical threat.

Chris Simmons

Clelin Ferrell. Ferrell certainly had his breakout game just two weeks ago, and came close to notching another sack last Sunday. However, in order to take the next step, the defense will need for him to be able to consistently make his presence felt. That doesn’t mean he has to have a four(!!!) sack game, but if he can notch another six (!) run stops and help as a complimentary rusher then the defense will be able to hold teams down. As it stands he was expected to be a run stopped before being a pass rusher and while he has not be been in the run game, he has to be more then average starting this week.

Ryan Holmes

Nicholas Morrow.  Morrow has seemed to regress in coverage and teams are taking deeper shots down the field against him with RB’s.  Raiders need him to hold up in coverage as Whitehead doesn’t offer much in that regard and the rest of the LB core doesn’t either. He has missed his fair share of tackles over the past 4-5 weeks.

Scott Gulbransen

Despite a recent injury, that player would be Lamarcus Joyner. Although there’s one big caveat: he’s playing outside his natural position in the slot.

 

If you could redo one free agency signing who would it be and why?

Chris Simmons

Antonio Brown. This may end up being a popular answer but imagine the off-season without by far the biggest distraction this passed summer. That led to more piling on to the Jayock pairing and contributed to the doom-and-gloom feeling that pervaded the fan base after that Minnesota loss. Moreover, the picks used to get AB could have been spent on a defense that, while improving, could use more talent. It was exciting right up until he made it to training camp and tried to nuke the team. While its nice to win in spite of his efforts, I would have rather never crossed that barrier.

Ryan Holmes

J.J. Nelson/Ryan Grant.  Raiders acquired these two in free agency to help solidify their receiver core. Unfortunately, neither made it past Week 5. They combined for eight catches for 50 yards. The Raiders had to spend future draft capital to fill their spots trading away a 5th round pick for Zay Jones and a 6th round pick for Trevor Davis.

Ray Aspuria

Lamarcus Joyner. This is tough considering what’s occurred at the positions of corner and safety, but my pick is Joyner. Sure, it would be nice for him to be surrounded by more talent, but the veteran got more than $16 million guaranteed and Joyner is a liability in pass coverage. He’s a much better run defender with his tackling ability, but with how the slot position has evolved into a true weapon, Joyner is a bust. The Raiders lack of options at slot CB hurts, but anyone can match or beat Joyner’s performance.

Scott Gulbransen

I think the Raiders signed an excellent free agent class that has been setback by Vontaze Burfict’s suspension, Jordan Devey’s injury, and Joyner’s need to play out of his natural position. But, if I had to look back and pass on one of those guys, it probably would be safety Curtis Riley who hasn’t been terrible but hasn’t been the answer either.

 

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