When the Raiders brought Jon Gruden back, one certainty became readily apparent. Gruden will take hold of the offense, and mold it in his vision. Whether fans and media agree, the Raiders will move the ball according to the wishes of their head coach. Throughout free agency and the draft, Gruden set the tone early. If you have followed his career for any length of time, you know how much Gruden cherishes fullback. As a result, the Raiders trading for Keith Smith should have not surprised another in the slightest.
History of Fullback Excellence
Gruden began his pro coaching career with the 1990 San Francisco 49ers. At the time, Tom Rathman enjoyed a crucial role within the 49ers offense. From there, players like Kevin Turner, Jon Ritchie, and Mike Alstott served as mainstays in Gruden schemes. These players set the tone for running games with violent blocking. Not to mention, fullbacks receive numerous targets in the passing game.
Face Punching Determination
In the Raiders’ offense, Keith Smith will do what he accomplished in Dallas. First and foremost, his job starts with clearing holes for the running back. Smith’s game require little nuance. From the snap, he attacks the hole and the defender trying to fill. A converted linebacker, Smith brings a style of collision blocking to the field.
Meanwhile, Smith’s blocking also extends to the passing game. As this shows, Smith possesses the ability to move block as well.
For years, the Raiders misused talented fullbacks with extraordinary skill sets. First, Marcel Reece, touted as a perennial secret weapon. He never received ample touches and faded away. Next, Jamize Olawale could catch, possessed outstanding speed and adequate running ability. However, he only received 30 touches once.
While Smith will not streak seventy-five yards on a catch-and-run, his value cannot be undervalued. His production may not show in stats. Yet, he gives the Raiders what Gruden wants most: attitude change. Gone are the days of mysterious playcalls and cutesy schemes in crucial situations. With Smith, the Raiders want to play a soul-breaking, spirit-crushing brand of offensive football. Under those circumstances, dispensing with elite talent for a bruiser fits. Although, he recorded 10 career touches, Smith will make an impact.
If the Raiders enjoy a long playoff run, the acquisition of Smith could rank as one of the better moves during Gruden’s first year. In essence, the revamping of a fullback instills a mentality shift. If you play these Raiders, expect a full-on fight. Quite the departure from the Downing days of checkdowns and failure. Finally, an offense with identity.