The Oakland Raiders are in big trouble. Jon Gruden’s career record, in a time when football was far easier and far simpler, was .517. that’s what he is, middle of the road, bang average and that were in his prime.
Only Pete Carroll has done well after a 9+ year absence but at least he continued to head coach at the college level. Chan Gailey was hired in 2010 by the Bills and had an 11-year span between NFL head coaching jobs. Since his return, he had a 16-32 record during his three years with the Bills.
Then we move on to the general manager, the second celebrity hiring made by the Raiders. Here’s his prediction on how the quarterbacks were going to fall last year – Darnold (1), Josh Allen, Wyoming (2); Josh Rosen, UCLA (3); Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (4).
He expected Sam Bradford to be the best pick in the NFL draft since Peyton Manning.
He felt Cam Newton should be a late first, early second-round choice.
This is his thoughts on Johnny Manziel – “If I’m a GM in the top 10 and I had to take a quarterback today, it would be Johnny Manziel,” Mayock said on “Path to the Draft.” “A lot of it is on the strength of defensive coordinators not wanting to deal with that style of play, and me buying into the kid. I’m buying into the kid as a competitor more than anything.”
As you can see, he’s completely illiterate when it comes to choosing a quarterback and for the most part, unless the talent is obvious his predictions across the board have followed suit to his QB predictions.
Nothing but Coaching Chaos
If we take a quick glance at the raiders current coaching set-up:
OC: Greg Olson – A very average OC, did well with Bortles but he’s not going to do anything amazing or consistent with a modern NFL offence. He’s also considered the reason behind Goff struggling in his first season or so.
OL: Tom Cable – Awful, awful coach. His last season with Seattle he had them as the 3rd worst pass-blocking offence and 3rd worst run blocking in the NFL. the year before that they were dead last in both run and pass blocking by a fair distance, a year before that they’re bottom 3 in pass blocking. You get the point yeah?
RB: Kirby Wilson – coached the 6th worst running game in Cleveland before moving to Arizona last year where he coached the 2nd worst running game in the NFL. He got success and given a title as a good coach because of Le’veon bell, but he has never improved teams’ running game since level the steelers in 2013.
DC: Paul Guenther – in Cincinnati he coached the 13 worst defence, 7th best in 2015 (often credited to VJ, hence the fins hiring him), 19th best in 2016, followed by the 11th worst defence in 2017 before he left for Oakland and coached the second worse defence in the NFL. He’s bottom half average according to his career numbers.
DL: Brentson Buckner – Coached the Tampa defence which put together the 2nd least QB pressures and worst QB hits. Before that he coached the Cardinals defensive line between 2014-2017. Bottom 3 in sacks, pressures and hits in 2014, 15th worst in 2015, they did top the list in 2016 for pressures but then in 2017, they reverted to being 16th ranked across pressures, hits and sacks.
ST: Rich Bisaccia – coached the 22nd worst special teams in 2018 with the Raiders. 2013-2017 he was with the Cowboys where they ranked 10th, 12th, 23rd, 28th and 8th respectively.
Making a Meal of Mack and No Coup in Cooper
The mack and cooper trades have been done to death and I don’t have a huge problem with the reason why they traded both players, my problem is with the fact they traded both players. Mack is a generational talent, you do not move generational talents at any position, ever. You make your cap work to give them the deal they want because they’re just that damn good.
Good front offices are very good at working deals in order to keep their best players. I’d point to John Elway being particularly good at negotiating contracts to pay bigger towards the end of the deal and it is a huge reason why Denver came anywhere close to SB50.
The Amari Cooper trade was the strange one for me, however, had these trades been done the other way around then the Raiders would have been able to keep Mack and within reasonable cap constraints.
Before I delve into the draft I wanted to take a look at free agency, specifically some of their incoming players.
Starting with Antonio Brown, the fact that there isn’t a fan base in the NFL envious of this move should say it all. There’s no doubt the trade itself has been stacked in the Raiders favour, there’s no doubt that on paper they received the better end of the deal.
So why aren’t fans jealous of a team acquiring one of the leagues top receivers for what was effectively chump change? well, it doesn’t matter how good of a player you are if you’re consistently calling out your quarterback, your coach and your fellow teammates.
It does not matter how good of a player you are when your teammates consistently talk ill of your ability to be a team player in a team sport.
To top that off, he’s gone from working with a #2 WR that is now recognised as one of the best #1s in the league (Ju-Ju), a hall of fame running back in Le’Veon Bell and a hall of fame quarterback in Big Ben, not to mention one of the best offensive line units under Mike Munchak and one of the best head coaches in the game in Mike Tomlin.
Antonio Brown has downgraded across the board here and it will show in both his performances and his behaviour, you will see AB blame every Raider but himself. Carr overthrew the ball, Gruden called the wrong plays, they didn’t target him enough, etc. it will all come, it always has.
With every loss the Steelers had, AB had something to say about who’s fault it was, now consider the Steelers lose 4 games a season whilst the Raiders typically only win 4 games a season.
Lamarcus Joyner and Johnathan Hankins are both upgrades on what was there last season but they’re not going to turn your fortunes around without a lot of help. Safety and defensive tackle, although important positions are two of the most saturated in the NFL.
Signing Vontaze Burfict is the second most peculiar thing the Raiders did in the offseason. Burfict used to have the ability to get away with his discipline issues, but that talent has started to slow down and what we’re left with is a consistently flagged linebacker who has a habit of getting burned in coverage and only really excels when tackling inside the box.
Vontaze Burfict has consistently declined year on year since he entered the league. To put into perspective how hard his decline has been he’s gone from an 81-graded tackler in 2012 to a 27-graded tackler in 2018.
Fellow linebacker Brandon Marshall also struggled heavily with Denver in recent years as you can read here. so that move represents little to no value for Oakland either.
Isaiah Crowell and Luke Willson are filler players and I don’t expect either of them to see much game time for Oakland unless injuries occur. Neither are good enough to be back-ups and I fully expect them to be 3rd string players, anything more than that and the Raiders will struggle to get any value from them.
Signing Richie Incognito is the strangest deal I’ve ever seen in the NFL quite frankly, at least in recent years. For those that don’t know Incognito is a man who only 12-months ago was arrested for trying to cut his deceased fathers head off at a morgue.
He’s also the notorious racist that has done more damage to the NFL landscape than any other player in modern history. I include Mr Kaepernick in that also.
He is a liability who needs genuine psychotic help from serious mental health issues, yet here we are with Jon Gruden risking the life of Incognito, his opponents and everyone on the field based on the misguided opinion that Incognito is the adequate player he was 5 years ago. He is a huge red flag in the NFL and he should not be allowed back into the league until he has cleared Psychiatric evaluations, something he is yet to do.
Anyone of those 3 players can ruin a dressing room, causing the team to implode, having 3 players not just with the potential but with the record of consistently disrupting dressing rooms it is only a matter of time until all 3 destroy whatever little Gruden has managed to assemble.
Moving into the draft we had arguably the biggest laugh on the night when the Raiders spent their first pick on 2nd round talent Clelin Ferrell out of Clemson. Albeit a talented, focussed young man, he is the one entrusted with replicating Khalil Mack, a feat which is almost impossible. If he does not replicate Mack’s form then this pick is a failure, end of discussion. They took a 5th or 6th rated talent to replace a future Hall of Famer in a somewhat stacked defensive draft, in all honesty, it was incredibly hard to screw this pick up but the Raiders somehow managed it.
20 picks later Josh Jacobs was selected with the 24th overall pick. Honestly, I don’t think Josh Jacobs is going to do anything of any real note in the NFL and like many before him, I believe he won’t be in the league as a starter in 3 years time.
He lacks real intelligence and simply plugs his gap with his head down, his top speed is adequate but takes a while to get anywhere near it which really hampers his ability when coming through the gaps and taking on the 2nd level.
He has so much to learn, but whether you like it or not he’s a bell-cow back in a time where bell cow, power backs are no longer used with the exception of the goal line. I understand why people are high on him but looking at the landscape of the NFL, the state of the offensive line in Oakland and the state of their coaching situation it’s going to be damn hard for him to succeed.
I’m sure he will have multiple 100-yard games, but I seriously doubt a 1000 yard season coming his way anytime soon and I also massively doubt he gets more than 5TDs on the floor in any given season. He’s just not good enough.
I do like the Raiders 3rd first-round selection, Johnathan Abram, a Safety out of Mississippi State. Now whilst I’m a fan of his and I do think he will prove to be a smart selection in the long term it still doesn’t change the fact he was not the best player on the board nor the best safety on the board. I believe the Chargers signing Nasir Adderley will prove to be the best move in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Depending on how you look at this, this was either an inspired move or an absolute reach.
Trayvon Mullen followed up with the 40th overall selection and he’s someone I actually do like also, I think he’s going to get over-looked and as such under-perform under such a lacklustre defence but I’ll expect him to be an average to above-average cornerback.
the likes of Isaiah Johnson and Maxx Crosby aren’t worth discussing and have come in solely as squad filler. Foster Moreau isn’t a bad selection either but in a stacked tight end draft I can’t help but feel with a little shuffling around a far better prospect could have been attained.
Hunter Renfrow will go down as the best selection for Oakland in this class, I’ll put it all on the line now and say he produces more in Oakland than Antonio Brown during the time he is there.
To see out their selections we’ve got Quinton Bell, an interesting prospect who’s physically unbelievable but up until 12 months ago was a WR out of Prairie View A&M and not the defensive end he has since become.
Their draft wasn’t horrific, the free agency was suspect but a few good signings were sprinkled in, the biggest issue Oakland has is their coaching, from top to bottom is full of poor results, poor discipline and overall poor records.
These coaches haven’t changed for in some cases 20 years, there is no reason to suggest things will change anytime soon.
Oakland fans, unfortunately, I see I see a maximum of 6 victories for you next season which I will break down in a future article.