I wasn’t always this petty. I didn’t always attack the Raiders. I didn’t always make jokes about being a Rams or Chargers fan. Scroll through my archive. You’ll find some combination of objective optimism and standom. I always found a way to believe the Raiders could find a way to win no matter how obviously overmatched they were.
Not this year. Maybe it’s the move. Maybe it’s the Mack trade. Maybe it’s the fact that key players from last years team are gone while the roster is filled with either veterans or under-experienced. Really, it’s probably the fact that the Raiders leveraged an entire six year rebuilding process for a media personality who hadn’t coached this decade.
Nonetheless, the Raiders are 0-2. One loss was a blowout that was closer than it appeared. The other one was a collapse to a solid but not great Denver team which is lead by a game managing QB and unknown receiver. Point is, it only took one Monday night loss for Gruden to go from winning a ring before leaving Oakland to being happy about his team competing to the end. Since when is a twenty point loss something to be proud of?
Same goes for last week. Two losses without Khalil Mack and Gruden is already talking about hindsight and hoping he made the right decision. Mack is 1-1 with the Bears and looking like a god. We know how Hard it is to find a pass rusher yet Gruden is out here trading generational ones.
Meanwhile, the Raiders d-line offers as much pressure as that professor who always extends deadlines. Shaking my head, does Gruden know what he’s doing more than an aging Al Davis in his final game?
That’s exactly why a loss this week would be so huge. The Raiders barely squeaked put a win over the Dolphins last year. Now, they’ll have to do that despite being a team that has never done well traveling to the East Coast. This might be a win that resets the season and stops the bleeding or it is another loss that will send the season spiraling.
B.I at End is a No-No
Listen man, Bruce Irvin is a hell of a player but I’ve said from the jump he is not a defensive end. I don’t care that he has played the position in spots or played that primarily in college. The fact that he is our primary pass rusher is more of a statement of our pass rush than it is his ability to play end.
You saw it in that viral video. Dude lacked effort in the last game versus the Broncos. A similar breakdown showed its face versus the Rams too.
What did you expect? Irvin is functionally strong and has good length for his frame but that by no means he needs to set the edge and corner QBs every single down. You don’t have to be an expert to know that. The first couple of weeks, Irvin and some of the Raiders ends have relied on spin moves. Spin moves are cool in college but they usually don’t work versus the strength, balance and athleticism of NFL tackles. Usually a spin move is the last resort for when you get beat initially. Of course, there’s some exceptions like Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney who have GOAT spin moves but BI is not in that class. Those guys had a plethora of moves and could fall back on a spin. Plus, they played the position naturally and more often in the pros.
The point is, Irvin isn’t an end. Expecting him to be that this late in his career is a real disservice. After he came from Seattle, he talked about how the move to linebacker saved his career. Now, for some reason we think he can be relied on to play that spot.
It’s not fair. Irvin needs another dominate end who can both handle pass rush and setting the edge. Arden Key is young and dynamic enough to do that eventually. Except he’s not there yet. His size and experience brings its own handicap that is also better at chasing from the backside. Irvin is also better using his speed and instincts to shoot gaps and chase plays from the backside. Put those two players together and you get teams hitting on draw plays and cutting back for long zone runs like we’ve seen the Rams and Broncos do the first weeks.
Of course, I hate to make excuses for a player like Irvin who we know is a pro and stud. However, the truth is he is not a defensive end. He definitely shouldn’t be a teams lead defensive end either. We’ve seen Irvin compete because that’s what he does but the coaching needs to put him in better spots to succeed. Even if that means only playing BI in spots or signing another guy to compliment dude, the Raiders have got to accept the fact that BI was never a linebacker
Trading for a playmaker?
How the the Raiders traded a franchise player, parted ways with most of their recent draft classes and gave up a franchise QB to move back in the draft and still over draft a tackle beats me. At the very least, the Raiders should have a record number of picks or they could’ve snagged an unhappy superstar LeVeon Bell or Earl Thomas who were both holding out. Shoot, they could’ve even got Josh Gordon who goes to a stacked New England team.
Still, there’s a player the Raiders could trade for that would change all of that. Could Antonio Brown be the spark the Raiders could acquire before the trade deadline?
Antonio Brown’s agent denied any rumors that his client wanted anything but to win. This effort to put out the smoke cake after Brown was visibly upset on the sideline in a loss, then joked with a former team administrator on Twitter about trading him and didn’t show up for practice on Monday. One of the league’s best receiver might become more available if the 0-1-1 Steelers continue to underachieve.
The Raiders trading for Antonio Brown would be really ironic. Brown might be just close enough to thirty just versatile enough and just motivated enough for the Raiders to take a chance on him. It would pair Brown back with Martavis Brown. Not to mention, Amari Cooper drew comparisons to Brown for his versatility.
Oakland would have two receivers capable of mismatches across the field. Otherwise, maybe the Raiders send Cooper back to the Steelers in the draft. Remember, Cooper has the same agent as Mack and Cooper will need a new deal after next year. Thus, he probably won’t be untouchable especially if he nets the Raiders Brown.
Brown has been one of the best receivers in his generation. He already has over 10,000 career receiving yards and 60 career touchdowns. He’s had six seasons with more than 1,000 receiving yards. You don’t think Derek Carr could use that kind of player?
I don’t care if Brown says he doesn’t want to get traded. The situation is worth monitoring and the Raiders better consider that move if there is an opportunity.
All that aside, it’s time to just win baby!
What to expect from the Dolphins?
Raiders are going to have to stop the run and contain the quarterback. Miami OC Dowell Loggains spent two seasons as the same position in Chicago and he’s also worked previously in Tennessee. Pro and spread elements will be worked into the game plan. Expect him to utilize Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake both as runners and pass catcher. He’s going to give Ryan Tannehill some movement out of the pocket too. The Raiders will have a long day if they can’t keep the Dolphins from controlling the clock and keep Tannehill off his spots. The Raiders defensive tackles will need to step up and stop the run as well as get pressure from the middle. The Dolphins o-line has been solid but the Raiders can exploit them. Football Outsiders literally ranks them as the 16th o-line which makes them exactly middle of the pack.
On defense, DC Matt Birk has some Paul Guenther ties as he was LB coach in Cincinnati before he held that position and was promoted to DC this season. Expect a 4-3 base defense that isn’t all to different from the Raiders. They’ll try to get as much pressure with their front four. Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn should really challenge the Raiders tackles. Oakland will need their receivers to get open early and often. Their QB can help them out by taking some chances and taking a few shots deep too. I’m not too worried about the Dolphins linebackers on the Raiders backs or tight ends. Speed and coverage ability is something the Raiders should exploit.