Oakland Raiders Keep/Discard: Week 8

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Oakland Raiders CB Trayvon Mullen

A one-eyed DeShaun Watson found a way. And a two-eyed Paul Guenther gave it away. That’s the tale of the tape from the Oakland Raiders most recent loss. 

Despite getting kicked in the left eye by Raiders defensive end Arden Key after breaking away from a drive-ending sack, Watson, the Houston Texans magician of a quarterback, flicked a dime to tight end Darren Fell for the go-ahead and eventual game-winning score.

In Oakland

Over on the Oakland sideline, stood defensive coordinator Guenther. A man who watched his defense handled by a much more determined Texans bunch. 

“He is a spectacular player,” Raiders boss man Jon Gruden said of Watson. “He wills it out of his team, and he makes something out of nothing. You see Michael Jordan, you see some of the great athletic plays in any sport, you’ve got to tip your cap to the guy.”

If Watson resembles MJ, then Guenther’s lackluster group stood no chance — what a perfect out by Gruden for his defensive coordinator, no? 

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Keep

  • Rookie CB Trayvon Mullen on the field: Gruden said the second-rounder missed time due to lack of fluids (although it appeared he was yanked for not snagging a would-be pick six), but the neophyte NFL corner did well as a starter. He was physical in both pass coverage and coming downhill against the run. 
  • The offensive line healthy: While rookie Andre James did admirably in Rodney Hudson’s absence, the Raiders need to keep the group healthy. The group has given up only 8 sacks, second lowest in the league and have paved the way for rookie tailback Josh Jacobs. 
  • Hunter Renfrow involved: The rookie receiver showed how precise his route-running is and how dangerous he is if you can’t tackle him. After eluding tacklers on a slant for a 65-yard score, the offense veered to Tyrell Williams. The Raiders would be wise to keep Renfrow involved. Make other teams defend the entire field. 
  • Attacking deep: While the 50-50 deep balls didn’t go Oakland’s way against Houston, the Raiders shouldn’t be dissuaded from attacking vertically. The Raiders have a good mix of taller receivers who can run. Take advantage of that. 

Discard

  • The notion Guenther’s defense will click soon: His scheme relies a lot on specific types of players, it’s difficult to fathom he’ll get all he needs in one more offseason. Players need to acclimate the the Paulie G style. The fact remains highly likely his defense doesn’t click until Year 2 in Las Vegas — at the earliest. 
  • Lamarcus Joyner as a pure slot corner: The former St. Louis/Los Angeles Ram has his best years as a safety and not a nickel corner. His best plays come when things are in front of him and he can read and react. Put this guy back at deep safety and see what happens. 
  • Inopportune linebacker vs. receivers matchups: Sure, Nicholas Morrow is one of the more fleet-footed LBs in the game, but having him or Tahir Whitehead cover Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins was asking for yards and completions. 
  • The platoon rotation at defensive line. You’ll see Johnathan Hankins, P.J. Hall or Maurice Hurst make a play and then trot to the sideline to get subbed out. A hot-hand rotation might suffice. Perhaps this helps first rounder Clelin Ferrell snaps inside, as opposed to edge.
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