The Oakland Raiders have improved their roster heading into 2019, and head coach Jon Gruden is feeling optimistic about the team’s future.
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has always been known for his toughness and requirement of 100% on every play. It’s the main reason why he took the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl in. his first year as the coach. Gruden took the stage on Friday, August 2nd, regarding the team and answered the questions.
Recently, the NFL voted to allow defensive pass interference calls to be challenged and someone asked him about his plan going into the season and how he’s planning on using it:
"No, I don’t really like the thought of it. We’ll challenge when we think we have to and we won’t when we think we don’t have to also"
He was then asked about his optimism regarding Antonio Brown and his mysterious absence from practice:
"I’m an optimistic guy. I think we’re all disappointed. I think he’s disappointed. We’d all like to get the part started. We’d like to get him out here, he’s a big part of this team. In the meantime we’re gonna continue to work hard. We’ve seen some other receivers we’re excited about."
This, of course, is referring to getting open against Lamarcus Joyner and starting a friendly rivalry.
Coach Gruden was then asked about who else has stepped up and without a beat, he mentions Tyrell Williams:
"Tyrell Williams has been very good here. I mean, he’s made some big plays at multiple positions and showed great stamina. So he’s been outstanding. Darren Waller has been really good, uh, really, really good, so we’re really fired up about those two guys the most and we’re starting to see others like Marcel Ateman make some plays……..my young friend from the Cardinals, J.J Nelson is starting to make some plays in many different situations. So that’s good and Derek has done a good job distributing the ball."
Last year the Raiders were in the bottom half of nearly every offensive category so seeing coach Gruden excited about the offensive talent this year even with Brown absent gives me hope we’re on the right track.
Gruden was then asked about the blocking skills and assignments for the running backs on the team:
"Good. We had great blitzing periods today and Alec Ingold has really done an excellent job as a lead back and a pass protector. Josh Jacobs is picking it up. Not even knowing who to block and when to block, but he’s showing excitement to block. He’s a physical guy, and we know Richard can block and Deandre’s back healthy so we have a lot of backs that take pride in that and are good at it."
This, of course, confirms my previous theory that Jacobs is the key to this offense running smoothly. Blocking assignments is one of the hardest things for a rookie running-back to learn and seeing a player with the willingness to block at a young age tells me the running-back is at least on the right track; he’s willing to be coached, open to criticism, and has a desire to get better.
Coach Gruden was then asked to assess the offensive line:
"Obviously Trent Brown is a huge addition for us. he is standing out on the video everyday. [Richie] Incognito and [Johnathon] Cooper are giving us some really good snaps at left guard. We all know Rodney [Hudson] and Gabe [Jackson] are really good players and Kolton [Miller] is a better player in year two. We’re gonna continue to look for depth and we’re gonna see how we stack up against the Rams because that’s a formidable front."
Which of course is true. The Los Angeles Rams were the runner up in the Super Bowl last year against the New England Patriots. In large part due to their talented defensive line including Aaron Donald.
The Raiders seem to be hitting all the right notes this year regarding developing a team worthy of making a run deep into January. Let’s hope that talent on paper can translate to points and a run deep into January.