Raiders

Don’t Kid Yourself, Gruden Was Like This In Round 1

Lose your breath yelling all you want and sprain your fingers typing furiously on your preferred social media platform, but for those clamoring for more aggressiveness from Jon Gruden’s offense, you must have missed his first go-around as Raiders boss.

Don’t Kid Yourself, Raiders Fans; Gruden Was Like This In Round 1

Generate a lead, play defense, ball control and a nail-biting and anxiety-riddled march towards the finish line is signature Gruden Ball. Sure, it’s a very conservative approach — it looks particularly disheartening when the end result is a L — but it worked quite well in Gruden’s first tour of duty in Oakland. And don’t you dare besmirch Gruden’s philosophy and play-calling acumen, apparently.

“I like what we did,” Gruden said about the most recent second-half lapse offensively. “I’m being honest with you. We had one possession in the third quarter that started on our two-yard line and one of the goals you have is to get a first down when you’re backed up and change field position, and we moved the ball to midfield. Unfortunately, we didn’t convert on third down and I punted the ball on fourth-and-1, and I don’t regret doing it.”

Read that last part one more time. Don’t worry, I’ll wait and no one will say a word …

Got It?

That’s Gruden to a T. He’s of the “defense gets paid too” mindset and is more than willing to rely on that side of the ball to hold up its end of the bargain. It’s just unfortunate the Raiders defense run by Gruden’s chosen defensive coordinator, Paul Guenther, is so porous, it’s embarrassing. And perhaps that’s why Gruden continued with this:

“Hindsight I wish I would’ve gone for it today, but good drive,” Gruden said. “Second drive, credit Jacksonville, they smelled out a screen pass and they got a sack on us on third down and long, and the last drive was one of the best four-minute drives I’ve been associated with. We took the ball on our 30-yard line and ran six straight runs and Derek Carr ran the ball himself for a first down on a read option.”

Here are the particulars:

  • The Raiders are getting outscored 101-20 in the third quarter this year. 
  • Oakland held a 16-3 lead at the half in the home finale. 
  • The Jaguars scored 17 unanswered points. 
  • In the last five games, the Raiders have scored 1 touchdown (and that was in garbage time too). 

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr tried to harp on the media that the Raiders didn’t take their foot off the gas (another patented Gruden characteristic, by the way). 

“No, our mindset as players is, man, we felt confident throughout the whole game, especially that first half, we were rolling,” Carr said. “Moving the ball, efficient … we just wanted to step on their throat. And we just didn’t do a good job of that in the second half.”

About That Defense…

There’s no question the Raiders defense has been as solid as rice paper. The holes opponents have poked in said rice paper is numerous and hideous. After styming Gardner Minshew and the Jacksonville offense in the first half, the rookie QB found receivers running free and open in the second. And the Jaguars latched their fangs on the Raiders jugular and took away the game and ended the Raiders’ run in Oakland with a sight all to familiar: a choke job defeat. 

“This is probably the worst loss of my career just because I know the history, the good times and the bad times that these fans have been through,” rookie defensive end Clelin Ferrell said. “We let them down today.”

Yet, for the last five games, the offense has been equally as absent.

Related: Incognito Has Proven To Be A Force With Raiders

“It sucks,” fellow rookie Maxx Crosby added. “We lost. We had the game in our hands. We didn’t finish. We didn’t do enough to win.”

Stupendous tight end Darren Waller, who eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark in the defeat, echoed the hurt the two defensive rookies displayed. 

“I feel really bad about not ending this game, this homestand, on the note that the fans wanted,” tight end Darren Waller said. “It’s more about the city, it’s more about every person that’s involved, the people playing and the people not playing. I feel bad about that. You want to win, you want to go out on a high note. But at the same time, I still love the team. I still love the effort. It’s just the execution has to be better.

The Excellence of Execution

Execution? Bret Hart these Raiders are not. They aren’t the excellence of execution the pro wrestler touted he was. Instead, the Raiders are merely at the end of a tight noose. A once bustling offense rendered more moot with each loss. 

“We got to pick up our execution,” Gruden lamented “We got to do some things better and we’ve got to get more opportunities certainly.”

Opportunities should be plentiful in Las Vegas. Just don’t expect Gruden to turn high roller in the desert. He is what he is and a tiger doesn’t change his stripes.

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