Oakland Raiders

Jon Gruden actually said it’s hard to find a pass rusher

Jon Gruden says it’s hard to find pass rushers. If only Raiders had one before his arrival.

The Oakland Raiders, or more specifically Jon Gruden, never truly engaged Khalil Mack in discussions on a long-term deal. The impasse ended with Mack being traded to the Chicago Bears on Sept. 1 for a bushel of draft picks. The Bears of course, immediately gave Mack the huge contract he was seeking.

Mack has been a force for the Bears, with two sacks in as many games and multiple impact plays coming off the edge. The Raiders, meanwhile, have two sacks as a team thus far (tied for second-fewest in the league).

Mack is a unique talent, with 36.5 sacks from 2015-2017 and a Defensive Player of the Year Award on his resume (2016), and he also doesn’t miss games. The Raiders’ defense was not good with him, but they surely aren’t better without him.

The move to trade Mack will follow Gruden until further notice. He has gone from saying it was clear Mack didn’t want to play for the Raiders to saying he’d love to have coached him. But during his press conference on Wednesday, Gruden proved he should just refuse to specifically answer questions about Oakland’s pass rush and/or Mack.

It’s hard to find a great one. It’s hard to find a good one. It’s hard to find one,” “College football now, they’re not really dropping back to pass and throwing footballs anymore. They’re throwing laterals and they’re throwing bubble screens and they’re throwing read options. So you’ve got to train these guys. It takes a little time to learn how to rush the passer. We’ve got some guys that are in that process right now.

The Raiders of course had Mack in place when Gruden was hired, who he then reportedly never even talked to. Mack himself proves pass rushers can be found in college football as offenses have changed. He was lightly recruited, before becoming a force at Buffalo in the MAC and becoming the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft.

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A coach with a reported 10-year contract can make long-term plans. Gruden clearly didn’t see Mack making the 2018 Raiders any better, before a cap-strapping contract would have started. But talking about not being able to find pass rushers, when he never tried to forge a relationship with an elite one that was in place, will keep the criticism of the Mack trade coming.

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