If you look at the Raiders offense, Jared Cook remains on the roster. To the surprise of many, Cook will probably enter the summer workouts. When Jon Gruden assumed power, he began slicing away costly veterans with whom he had zero attachment to. Through releases and trades, Gruden and Reggie McKenzie culled the roster, refilling it with other veterans. Meanwhile, Jared Cook will take his reps in the offense. The question remains why.
Gruden Is Not Stupid
Outside of Alameda, opinion will vary on Jon Gruden. Some view him as a power hungry coach, looking to rule every aspect of the Raiders. Others see him as an old-school relic, seeking to bring back an old version of the game. While either one of this can be both true, what it does not say is any lack of intellect. Jon Gruden can see Jared Cook for what he is: a seam-busting threat. In addition, Gruden realizes the bonus of having a tight end that will force defense to cover him vertically. If you look at the majority of top offenses, having an explosive tight end makes a difference. From Gronkowski to Kelce to Olson, big play tight ends will never go out of style. Gruden understands this.
Reverse Malcolm Smith
For the majority of the Reggie McKenzie Era, the Raiders struggled with tight ends. Players like Crockett Gilmore torched the Oakland defense. If that name does not sound familiar, it should not. Gilmore was a fringe tight end that found holes in the Oakland defense, exploiting them for big gains. Jared Cook, on the other hand is an explosive athlete that wins vertically versus slower linebackers.
With the AFC West up for grabs, Cook’s 2017 stats bear out a case for him to have a more active offensive role. In two games versus the Chiefs, he snagged 11 passes for 182 yards and two scores. Other than the Chargers, the Chiefs present a divisional roadblock for the Raiders. Cook’s ability to gash defenses proves vital in playoff runs.
In reality, we all know Jon Gruden wants to pound the ball mercilessly. However, Gruden appreciates employing a sound tight end. Cook remains the Raiders’ only threat at the position. While he may not serve as an offensive focal point, Cook gives the Raiders another weapon.