When Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock began to assemble the roster, the Oakland Raiders began to take shape. Granted, this appears the polar opposite of what Reggie McKenzie tried to construct during his tenure. Under Gruden and Mayock, the team leans in a more aggressive direction. That is to say, the team wants to embrace physicality.
The Dog Theory
Listen to any player for a while, you will hear them refer to aggressive but talented players as dogs. These athletes are the ones that you want filling during the run, or making plays in the backfield. To Paul Guenther, Vontaze Burfict embodies that. Despite Mayock’s objections, the Raiders signed him. Mayock explained his change to Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.
“Paul became one of his best friends, earned his trust, showed him how to become an NFL player and kind of unearthed the fact that on top of being this incredibly tough, physical guy, he was also smart and instinctive,” “Paul knows this guy better than any of us. Paul banged the table for him. Hard. And I challenged him a little bit. ‘He’s getting older, he didn’t have a great year last year, but there’s still talent there — Paul, how are we dealing with this?'”
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In order to improve the Raiders, Mike Mayock trusted his defensive coordinator to vouch for Burfict. Like him or not, Burfict brings an attitude the Raiders lacked in previous regimes. However, the question remains if he can channel that energy into positive plays. In addition, if Burfict fails, costing the Raiders wins, look for Paul Guenther to take the fall. As a result, Mayock looks strong for believing in an assistant.
Before the flameout in Pittsburgh, people praised him for his tireless work ethic. Originally, drafted in the sixth round, Brown brings an edge to the field. However, many chided the Raiders for the trade. While not the volatile talent that Burfict is, people believe that Brown’s edge could destroy the Raiders. However, to this point, nothing but raves from the team about Brown’s effort.
As mentioned, I am still not a fan of the Richie Incognito signing. Never will be. However, He will suit up for the Raiders. More than Burfict or Brown, Incognito could wreck team chemistry. Gruden and Mayock are betting on him behaving. Spare me the “ he’s only here for a year”. With 80 million dollars and eight years remaining, Gruden can’t sacrifice any season.
In essence, the Oakland Raiders bet on players with unattractive reputations. Whether they work out, remains to be seen. To their credit, the team looks like there will pull out all the stops to win.