When Jon Gruden assumed the reins in 2018, many believed that he would stay true to his Tampa form. That is to say, he would rely heavily upon grizzled vets, while rookies looked from the outside. Instead, Gruden and by extension, Mike Mayock began to chart a different course for the Oakland Raiders. If the first wave of cuts provides any indication, the Raiders and their approach should surprise fans.
“Every day, man. I can’t wait. It’s not going to take me long to see my old teammates, see my old organization, you know, I can’t wait. I see us winning. I went back to Denver not too long ago and I told some of those guys that we were going to beat them.”
Earlier this summer, Marshall spoke to the NFL Network about facing his former team. Yet, the Raiders cut him before the season started. To the surprise of many, Marshall exits Oakland. While we all want to ask why, look at the action. If a veteran fails to impress during camp, Gruden seemed to usually let them have a few more reps. Remember Derrick Johnson. His Raiders tenure lasted into the season before the team released him.
If you look at the depth chart, the Raiders appear woefully thin at linebackers. Names like Marquel Lee and Nicholas Morrow populate a group that does little to inspire. Yet, the name that should give fans the most hope is Morrow. While he lacks the positional awareness and nuance of Whitehead and Burfict, Morrow brings a speed element. Although his explosion doesn’t always mesh with proper angles and technique, he can cover a variety of weapons.
As you read this, the Raiders could conceivable find Marshall’s replacement via trade or waiver wire pick up. As of this writing Dolphins’ linebacker Kiko Alonso’s name surfaced as a possible fit in Oakland. However, Miami traded him to New Orleans.
With Marshall gone, Paul Guenther could ask for a more versatile linebacker. as a result, the Raiders could begin to implement the entire defense. If you remember, Guenther detailed a small samples of his scheme to the MMQB, which included:
14 different D-line fronts
14 stunts and twists
20 blitzes out of a four-down front
26 blitzes out of double-A-gap fronts
19 blitzes out of “odd” fronts, which have either three or five men across the D-line, with one aligned directly over the center
There are also options for facing unusual offensive looks like four-receiver sets and wildcat. Plus there are 10-12 red zone packages and 18 end-of-game packages. (via the MMQB)
With one move, the Oakland Raiders managed to buck conventional notion and open the door to new possibilities. As a result, I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.