I was fortunate enough to catch up with Terry Biggs, the editor of our Raiders section here at Full Press Coverage, in anticipation of Friday’s preseason opener between the Lions and Raiders.
Check out what Biggs had to say about Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, quarterback Derek Carr and the team’s 2018 prospects in a mysterious AFC West.
MU: What’s been the response to head coach Jon Gruden and what people have been calling an old-school approach? Major differences from Jack Del Rio?
TB: For the most part, the team seems receptive. The veterans appreciate the structure. Jack Del Rio did not use a regimented format. From moment one, Gruden ran the team his way. As a result, the team will mirror his approach.
MU: Where do you see this team improving in 2018 and where could they potentially be weaker than last season?
TB: The offense will center around the running game. With Gruden’s affinity for the power attack, look for Oakland to bludgeon opponents. On the other hand, the team could struggle at offensive tackle. As Donald Penn sits on the PUP list, rookie Kolton Miller gets the nod. Although Miller is athletic, he struggles with bending and will lunge at defenders.
MU: Can Derek Carr get back to being an elite passer under Gruden? Where do you still think he still needs to grow as a quarterback?
TB: Granted Derek Carr possesses the tools of an elite passer, but the problem of holding the ball too long exists. Under Gruden, he will learn quicker decision making as the offense is geared toward timing and intermediate routes.
MU: Can the Khalil Mack situation be resolved and who do you feel is in the wrong?
TB: Basically, the Raiders need to pay Khalil Mack before the season. In my opinion, the situation should not let this drag into the regular season. If blame needs placement, GM Reggie McKenzie extended right guard Gabe Jackson a year ago. Mack and Jackson arrived in the same draft class. A generational pass rusher takes precedence over an interior lineman.
MU: Where do you see the team ranking in what looks like a different division with Alex Smith gone from KC and with Case Keenum now leading the Broncos? Should the Raiders be favorites?
In reality, the Raiders should win the AFC West with a 10-6 record. Mahomes in Kansas City owns the tools but lacks the accuracy and experience. Case Keenum possesses the accuracy but lacks the physical attributes of a great passer. Over in LA, the Chargers, while talented, continue to struggle with staying healthy.