Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland Raiders: 3 things to watch in Week 11
3. Jon Gruden’s play calling
Through the first ten games this season, Jon Gruden’s coaching has been superb. He has turned misfits into a competent wide receivers unit, helped Josh Jacobs become the front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year, and led Derek Carr to a career year after looking like a shell of his 2016 self for several seasons.
One of the reasons for the Raiders success thus far has been Gruden’s play calling, it has been very good from an overall standpoint. Last season Gruden’s play calling was one of the lone bright spots in an otherwise atrocious seasons. Especially the scripted first drive, Gruden knew how to keep opposing defenses on their heels and drive down the field for an easy score.
That strength has remained in year two, and Gruden’s overall play calling has gotten better as well. Last season he would regularly get out-coached in the second half, failing to make the necessary adjustments to close games out.
That narrative has shifted in 2019 as the Raiders have improved steadily in that regard. Still a bit rusty, in the third quarter especially, the Raider have found ways to close games. Looking at Gruden’s play calling against a conceivably weaker team will show a lot about this team’s future. Does he get conservative, or does Gruden try to take the top off and let his weapons lose on the weak Bengals defense? This week could be a good one to try some new things, let’s see what Gruden has in store.