Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders review: Studs and Duds
Duds: Jon Gruden’s decision making
This seems like a constant theme as the Las Vegas Raiders are 3-0 but have had some major issues with decision-making by their head coach. Like the Baltimore Ravens game where Jon Gruden’s questionable play-calling on 4th and short and his handling of the game-winning sequence in overtime, this victory against Miami had some of those same issues.
In the first quarter after Derek Carr threw the pick-six, the Raiders faced 4th and short on their one 34-yard line. To use some Vegas-appropriate terminology, Gruden was on tilt after that interception and decided to gamble.
There were two issues with this sequence and the first was the decision to go for it in general. The Raiders knew that this Miami offense is not very explosive and has had trouble moving the ball so giving them a short field if the play was unsuccessful did not make sense at the moment.
As it turned out the Raiders’ offense fell short and Miami scored a rushing touchdown a few plays later. The decision to go for it was the wrong call and the play call itself was even worse as Gruden tried to go up the middle on 3rd and 1 and failed and ran essentially the same play on 4th down and failed once again.
This new aggressive approach in certain situations by Gruden is admirable but he needs to pick his spots and his plays better.
The other issue that Gruden is currently having and seems to have had for most of his career is becoming too conservative in ball-control situations. The Raiders have struggled to run the ball in recent weeks, but Gruden continues to be conservative when protecting a lead rather than putting the game in the hands of his veteran quarterback.
When the Raiders got the ball at the 8-minute mark, they went run, short pass, short pass incomplete, and punted, using just 1 minute of the game clock. The defense stopped Miami on 4th and 1 and the offense took over at 4:30 to go on their own 43. They ran up the middle twice for minus 1 yard and Carr took a 15-yard sack in an obvious passing situation.
They once again used just a minute of the game clock and punted to Miami who drove down and tied the game. Gruden needs to put the ball in Carr’s hands and let him make decisions in those situations as he has shown to be more than capable of taking care of the ball and making the right play.