The Oakland Raiders showed some hope last week when they started moving the ball effectively on offense, but Jon Gruden’s squad looked just as lost as ever in their Week 5 defeat to the rival Los Angeles Chargers.
Jon Gruden is essentially impossible to fire due to the buyout clause in his massive contract, but it’s becoming clear that the Oakland Raiders are already having buyer’s remorse after shelling out record money on an ill-advised coaching hire.
The Raiders lost 26-10 to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 5, dropping their record to 1-4. They remain winless on the road, and they could easily be winless at home, too, if it weren’t for a controversial call that bailed them out against the Cleveland Browns.
Defensively, the Raiders are a lost cause. They came into this game ranking 31st out of 32 teams in points per game allowed, surrendering nearly 31 points per contest. The Chargers “only” scored 26 on the Raiders this week, but they were already winning 20-3 going into the fourth quarter. It’s not like the Raiders offense gave the Chargers offense any reason to try and play aggressively to take more advantage of Oakland’s weaknesses on defense.
What’s even more frustrating than Oakland’s woes on defense, though, is their complete inability to produce on the offensive side of the ball. With Marshawn Lynch at running back, a wide receiver duo of Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson, veteran tight end Jared Cook, and a gifted young quarterback in Derek Carr, you’d think that Gruden would be able to conjure up something. After all, he did head up a “Quarterback Camp” special for young quarterbacks when he was on ESPN.
Instead, the Raiders offense has been abysmal, barring that one-week outburst against a depleted and sloppy Browns defense. Against Los Angeles, the Raiders could only muster 10 points, and they did a laughably poor job of getting Cooper, a former first-round pick and their most individually gifted player on offense, involved.
Against the Browns, Cooper spearheaded Oakland’s rabid second-half comeback with 8 receptions for 128 yards. In Week 5 against a hated division rival, Cooper received just one target. He caught it for 10 yards.
The uneven rapport between Carr and Cooper has been a topic of discussion among Raiders fans, and Gruden desperately needs to get his real No. 1 receiver involved more. Nelson can go off here and there and has shown much more in the tank than, apparently, the Green Bay Packers (his previous employer) thought, but he’s not as dynamic as Cooper. The same words can be applied to Cook at tight end. Or even Lynch at running back.
On a team filled with veteran players who only have a couple of years of high-level play to give, the Raiders have a potentially great QB-WR combo in Cooper and Carr. But the problem is that they aren’t on the same page, and Gruden, who was specifically hired to help take Carr to the next level, has done an awful job of helping out.
Gruden wanted to bring a spark to his offense, so he signed Martavis Bryant despite the questions about his ability to contribute due to substance abuse. Bryant had a strong showing against Los Angeles, but he’s been so up-and-down this year that he can’t be relied upon. Gruden hasn’t found anything approaching a winning formula, and, again, the Raiders could easily be 0-5 at this point.
Losing without so much as a whimper to a hated division rival is just embarrassing, and that’s the best way to describe Gruden’s second stint with the Raiders thus far. He’s reportedly alienated the front office with his poor decisions, namely the Khalil Mack trade, which has been rightfully panned by fans and experts of all kind.
Though Gruden didn’t have much good-will from the fanbase to begin with, this latest loss to the Chargers has likely plummeted his proverbial stock to a new nadir.