Profound lessons can be learned in the most dire of times. Hence Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock’s decision to take Josh Jacobs in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Both Oakland Raiders head coach and general manager identified the team’s ground attack — more specifically, lack thereof — as a point of emphasis and voila!
Jacobs addition — along with bringing in Richie Incognito and Trent Brown on the offensive line – – re-energized a listless ground game. Now, injuries and other factors dwindled the rushing attack’s effectiveness, but the notion and initial execution was sound. An area of opportunity nets an actionable item.
To say the Raiders have areas of opportunities across the entire roster is a gross understatement. The actionable items list there is as long as the detailed report of the team’s 107 penalties thus far in the 2019 campaign.
The defense, for example, needs to be dissected and combed over with microscope and a fine-toothed comb. Ever see when the feds investigate a plane crash? How they have personnel stand next to each other for a long line and together walk the crash site? They’re looking for anything and everything from that plane. The Raiders need to do this with their defense.
Equally important, the team needs to do this with the quarterback position. “It’s been crazy,” Derek Carr said. “Let’s not sugarcoat it. Let’s just be real about it … It’s been a really weird year. We can get it into all the other stuff. Someone should write a book about it at some point. So much stuff going on. But, nobody cares. I’m used to that.” Used to that is a phrase that’s become a norm in the Raiders’ QB room. Ask yourself, in Carr’s tenure as QB, has there been anyone else in that room who is a legitimate threat to take the starting gig from No. 4? It’s almost like the team catered to Carr. That must change.
The Raiders should spend either early draft capital or coin in free agency to not only get Carr a quality backup (if he’s indeed the signal caller in Las Vegas), but someone who can push him daily on the practice field. Someone that Gruden can look at and tell himself, “I’d roll with him as a starter.”
The list of unrestricted free agent QBs this offseason is an inspiring list (Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Teddy Bridgewater are the top names), but expect them to be re-signed by their respective squads. That leaves potentially Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Chase Daniels, Ryan Tannehill and a slew of others in the FA pool.
Draft wise, by the time the Raiders are on the clock in the first round, the top-tier prospects are likely off the board. The team would be looking at Jalen Hurts, Jake Fromm, Jacob Eason, Tyler Huntley and Jordan Love, to name a few.
Issue and Resolution
The lack of quality depth at the most important position is insulting to a fan base deprived of homegrown talent at QB. The list of drafted and developed signal callers is quite short. No matter what you think of Carr, the last signal caller who the Raiders selected and blossomed -Ken Stabler — a second-round pick (No. 52 overall) out of Alabama in 1968.
“We’re trying every way we can to win a game,” coach Jon Gruden said. “I know we had some ugly moments today and in the last couple weeks, but we’ve had some real bright spots this season. We have some young building blocks in place I think Raider fans are going to enjoy watching.”
Add a young building block at quarterback and watch the fan base’s interest grow exponentially, coach. Because there’s nothing more popular than the backup QB on a football team.