The Oakland Raiders waxed safety DJ Swearinger, linebacker Preston Brown and defensive tackle Terrell McClain on Tuesday, just a day after head coach Jon Gruden said there would be “changes”. “You gotta force a three-and-out, and we weren’t able to do that yesterday, from the jump,” said Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden. “Very, very concerned about it. We’re going to make some changes and get it right.”
The trio of veterans were made scapegoats by a team bereft of defense. They were signings by a team desperate to stop the bleeding, something to plug the hole. But releasing Swearinger, Brown and McClain wasn’t trimming fat. Not even close. It was taking the marrow out of the bone.
This isn’t meant to absolve the trio of veterans of personal responsibility. Swearinger wasn’t his usual impactful game-changing self (watching Jets QB Sam Darnold power past him on a touchdown run was awful). Brown couldn’t take advantage of snaps he was given and looked like another poor piece in a very lackluster linebacker group. McClain was odd man out on a defensive line that’s been hit or miss against the run. Yet, did Oakland’s defense improve by releasing this trio? They were desperate signings by an equally desperate team.
With our without the triplet, Paul Guenther’s defense will continue to be easily read and manipulated. Same as Gruden’s offense has been stymied and mocked during a putrid consecutive string of losses. Yes, Oakland nary stops opponents, however, the team is being outscored by 78 points in the third quarter.
“I don’t know what we’re drinking or what we’re eating at halftime or what we’re saying, but we’ve got to do a better job,” Gruden said. “We had another turnover yesterday in the second half that went back to the house. That’s three weeks in a row, whether it be an interception or a fumble that’s gone back the other way. To answer your question, you’ve got to take responsibility for that when you’re the coach and I’m the coach.”
“We’ve got to play better, and we’re going to play better,” Gruden continued. “There will be changes. There will be changes. What happened yesterday will not happen again. I can’t allow it to happen.”
Gruden is correct he shouldn’t allow the porous depth and talent collection on defense to happen — ever — again. Then, the team can avoid desperate signings and cuts midseason and later.