With the 2018 preseason half over, the Raiders can begin to solidify some of their opinions regarding roster spots and potential moves. In that case, these two games give a long look into what the team sees and looks for. Granted, certain spots remain eternally safe, like Carr. However, the camp appears vastly different, and the games feel more important. Although, preseason wins are losses are meaningless, here are points to ponder.
While we all know, Jon Gruden likes the microphone and camera. In contrast, Gruden relishes coaching. If you look at his quotes or hear his voice, the passion for his job resonates. Naturally, that transfers to the mood of the field. Jack Del Rio never appeared to bring that sense of true confidence. Through various helpings of his word salads, Del Rio never conveyed what Gruden does.
Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther walked into Oakland with an actual scheme. Not to mention, Gruden assembled a staff around Guenther than will implement the scheme. Last year, Ken Norton floundered through little to no adjustments. Now, the scheme looks solid and players perform well within it, at least in the preseason.
Not long ago, Seth Roberts became a staple of the Oakland offense. Yet, he faces an uphill climb to claim a roster spot. With as many as six receivers in the hunt for spots, Roberts could see the Raiders cut him. In addition, Obi Melifonwu also looks in danger of not seeing the first week. Relatively healthy at UConn, Melifonwu struggles to see the practice field on consecutive days. However, when he did practice, Gruden lauded him. Yet, the best ability remains availability. Melifonwu can make the roster from the trainer’s room.
In watching both games, surprises took place. First, Shilique Calhoun flying around remains the most stunning aspect of camp. With many lining up to vilify Reggie McKenzie’s devotion to Calhoun, the DE appears to fly around and pressure the passer. Did Paul Guenther’s scheme free Calhoun from the Norton way of minimizing talent?
In time, we will see if the vast overhaul panned out for the Raiders. After two games, the team feels completely different from previous seasons. The confidence from coaches and the flexibility and execution of scheme gives Oakland hope that Gruden can make this work.