The Las Vegas Raiders won yesterday. They are 3-0. It may not feel like it, but they are. Let’s take a look at some knee jerk reactions following yesterday’s win.
The O-Line is in shambles…
This reaction is targeted at the interior of the offensive line. Kolton Miller was solid once again today. Alex Leatherwood hasn’t been great, but he is far better than I expected. That is where the positives stop for this unit. Andre James’s play has been a far cry from that of Rodney Hudson. Just like last year, the guards have been marred by injury. The problem is that the depth has not been replenished.
John Simpson, expected to compete for a starting job this year, has been an average backup. Jermaine Eluemunor just plain stinks. For another game, Derek Carr bailed out the line by getting rid of the ball quickly. If something doesn’t change upfront soon, the Raiders won’t be able to rely on Carr because he will be hurt.
“Gruden Still Gonna Gruden”
The Jon Gruden we know and hate is back. This Gruden is reactionary and overly cautious. We saw it yesterday. The first example was on that fourth and one call in the first quarter. Carr had just thrown a pick-six, and Gruden was desperate for a response on the ensuing drive. The Raiders were still inside their own 40, but ‘Gru‘ elected to go for it on fourth down anyway. Las Vegas was stopped and turned the ball over. A few plays later, Miami was in the end zone and up 14-0, putting the Silver and Black in a deep and unnecessary hole.
Late in the fourth quarter, we saw another Gruden staple: getting ridiculously conservative late in the game. The Raiders had the ball up eight with just over four minutes left, and everybody and everybody’s mother knew what ‘Chucky‘ had dialed up here: two handoffs straight up the middle. After that, it was third and 11; go figure. I know it makes sense in that situation to bleed the clock, but come on. You have to be more creative than that. More so in that situation where you likely need two first downs to put the game away. We get having faith in the defense; they deserve it now. However, at that point, they had done their job.
The offense should have put the game away, much like they did last week. It looks like the Raiders head coach hasn’t changed after all. That is very similar to what we saw last year and the year before. Every game the Raiders win, Gruden’s sphincter gets a little tighter.
Jalen Richard might be out of a job…
Despite a depleted line, Peyton Barber and to a lesser extent Kenyan Drake, looked pretty good. By the end of the game, the former Washington Football Team runner had become ‘the guy’ for Vegas. If he keeps playing as he did on Sunday, Barber will become the de facto ‘number two’ behind Josh Jacobs once he is healthy. That would likely leave Jalen Richard and Drake vying for a roster spot. At this point, the latter would be much more expensive to cut. Richard is still an asset in this league. So, the smart thing would be to try to get something for him in a trade. He likely makes too much money for the Raiders to even get a Day 3 draft pick for him.
*Top Photo: Associated Press/Rick Scuteri