Despite sitting at 34-4 and 7-16 during his second stint with the Raiders, Jon Gruden can hold his head high regarding a couple aspects. Similarly, there are a few points to improve upon and serve as negatives. Nothing appears as dire as the overall record suggests. With that said, FPC Raiders writers Ray Aspuria, Pete Camarillo and Terrance Biggs weigh in regarding the return of Jon Gruden.
25 games into the Second Gruden Era, what are two positives and two negatives?
1. Jon Gruden didn’t troll with the Darren Waller hype.
The “chance of a lifetime” talk is legit. The Raiders have Waller as a feature player, something that seemed nothing more than hyperbole the likes of Gruden saying “we have to make Amari Cooper the focal point of our offense.” Snagged off the Baltimore Ravens practice squad, the converted wide receiver is a dynamic weapon in the passing attack and has improved considerably as a blocker. Waller is one of the must-account-for players on offense and is an ascendant athlete, something sorely missing when aging but capable Jared Cook was allowed to walk.
2. Tom Cable is getting it done this year.
Derek Carr has only been dropped 8 times — sure you can point to the quick release — but the offensive line still has to hold up and isn’t being beaten like a drum. The bruiser mentality up front gives Josh Jacobs plenty of room to work with and allows Gruden to fully use the power run West Coast offense.
1. Paul Guenther is several players away from his scheme.
Undermanned is putting it nicely. The Raiders much-maligned defensive coordinator is several players from having his scheme work to full capacity. And one has to seriously wonder if Gruden has the patience for the defense to get its pieces — something I don’t see happening until the 2021 season. The Raiders need two more off seasons (free agency and draft) to give Paulie G what he needs.
2. The offense has to score on every drive to get a W.
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Because of No. 1, the Raiders need to score points — 3 or 7 — on every offensive drive to keep pace with the opposition. The Raiders have reached the 24-point mark a number of times this season and that should be enough. Yet, due to the lack of players who fit his scheme, the opposition can carve up Guenther’s defense on the reg.
1. The Raiders employ an accurate starting quarterback. Granted, Derek Carr will check down to the short game, at times. Yet, recently, he features a more aggressive approach. He changed Derek Carr, giving him a sense of stability.
2. Gruden is the last line. When he signed that lucrative contract, Gruden accepted full responsibility. Whether he will say this or not, the future of the Raiders rests completely with him. Forget Mayock or Mark Davis, the onus fals on him
1. Paul Guenther still collecting a check rankles the nerves of most rational fans. Regardless of scheme, covering the premier wideout with a linebacker remains unacceptable. Guenther’s defense offers no pass rush. As a result, the secondary invites torchings.
2. Draft a linebacker early. In all honesty, it’s tiring to watch UDFA and overcompensated vets take up valuable space. Our colleague, Kenny Berry owns a book of bad Raider drafts. With Gruden and the duration of his contract, you’d hope the linebacker avoidance ends.
First positive, the Raiders secured a plethora of draft picks to help Gruden build the team in his image headed into Las Vegas.
Second positive, the Raiders have balanced aggressiveness in making transactions that both send and acquire talent with financial flexibility maintaining cap space.
In essence, the Raiders, armed with draft picks and cap space, are far better than they were with Jon Gruden than Jack Del Rio. The offense appears more advanced and better suited to success.