Is Derek Carr still the long-term answer at quarterback for the Oakland Raiders? If you trust Jon Gruden, the answer is yes.
Gruden was effusive in his praise for Carr on Monday, calling his production in spite of major issues around him “astonishing” and referring to him as a “great quarterback.”
Jon Gruden called QB Derek Carr’s production “astonishing” given some of surrounding issues, namely in protection. “The guy is a hell of a player. The guy is a great quarterback.”
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) December 17, 2018
In other words, if Gruden’s telling the truth, you probably shouldn’t count on the Raiders drafting or otherwise pursuing a quarterback this offseason. Of course, Gruden has said one thing before doing the opposite before, so it probably bears watching anyway.
Carr hasn’t been intercepted since Week 5 and has topped the 250-yard mark in three consecutive games. He actually has produced fairly well in spite of how bad the Raiders have been.
The wider NFL world took note of Stephen A. Smith’s disastrous Chiefs-Chargers preview and is gleefully piling on.
The latest to do so is Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who alluded to Smith’s messy analysis by mixing up a few names while previewing Oakland’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Jon Gruden channeling his inner-Stephen A. Smith when talking Bengals: "We've got to get ready for Dan Ross and Booby Clark. We've got to watch out for Isaac Curtis down the middle. We've got to get Tim Brown and all of our receivers ready to play."
— Jerry McDonald (@Jerrymcd) December 14, 2018
The Chargers and their players were more than happy to pile on as well, and now it’s happening with Gruden as well. There’s probably a little knife-twisting here: Smith has been critical of Gruden in the past, and Gruden has been willing to fire back, so he probably enjoyed this opportunity.
Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden is making another strategic assertion that isn’t quite backed up statistically.
Gruden admitted Friday that he doesn’t care for play-action against man-to-man coverage, arguing that the players in coverage aren’t paying enough attention to the backfield to bite on the fake.
“I just don’t believe in play-action pass against teams that are playing man-to-man coverage,” Gruden said, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN. “Who are you fooling? You see a team that plays a lot of zone coverage, you fake the ball and you fool the underneath coverage and throw the ball in behind him. When you’re playing teams that play a high percentage of man-to-man coverage, the corner is covering his guy. The safety is covering his guy, he’s not peaking in the backfield.”
It may sound reasonable, but the numbers don’t quite support Gruden’s assertion.
Someone tell Jon Gruden he may want to walk this back. In 2018, here are play action splits in man-to-man (M2M) coverage, league-wide:
Non-Play Action passes in M2M:
• 50% success, 7.3 YPA, 92 rtg
Play Action passes in M2M:
• 56% success, 8.6 YPA, 108 rtg https://t.co/LVDQMG4LrK
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) December 8, 2018
It’s not the first curious quote Gruden has offered up this season. Maybe that’s part of the reason they’re languishing in the basement with a 2-10 record.
Jon Gruden was widely ridiculed for throwing a challenge flag even though the game situation did not allow him to.
Gruden’s Oakland Raiders allowed a catch at the goal line to Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce with 7 seconds left in the first half on Sunday. There were questions about whether Kelce had possession of the ball before rolling out of the end zone, but the call on the field was a touchdown.
Understand why John Gruden wanted to challenge this touchdown catch. It was close.
But since it was under 2 minutes he couldn’t and it cost the Raiders a timeout. pic.twitter.com/RD8UuZxr49
— Nick Bromberg (@NickBromberg) December 2, 2018
The officials felt confident about the call because they allowed Kansas City to line up for the extra point attempt until Gruden stepped in. Still upset that the touchdown was going to stand, Gruden threw a challenge flag even though 1) all scoring plays are automatically reviewed and 2) coaches are not allowed to challenge inside in the final two minutes of a half.
Gruden didn’t want the extra point attempted until he made sure the officials knew he thought it was a bad call. The Raiders coach could be seen mouthing to the officials “look at it again” and “ball hit the ground.”
The penalty for challenging a play inside of two minutes of a half is a lost timeout. Since there were only 7 seconds left in the half anyway, Gruden didn’t mind being penalized a timeout to desperately ask for another review and get his point across.
His efforts didn’t change the ruling, but the Raiders did block the extra point attempt and went into halftime trailing 19-7.
The Oakland Raiders have enjoyed very little success in Jon Gruden’s first season back with the team, and his frustration with his quarterback has been evident on numerous occasions. That was the case again on Sunday.
On a 3rd down play late in the first half against the Arizona Cardinals, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr chose to throw a low percentage deep ball to running back Jalen Richard, who was double-covered down the sideline. Gruden clearly did not like the decision, and he appeared to light into Carr over it.
— TAJI. (@InfiniteRaiders) November 18, 2018
Carr is having one of his worst seasons as a pro this year, and that has been surprising to some considering Gruden fancies himself a quarterback whisperer. While the coach should be blamed for some of the struggles Oakland’s offense has had, Carr has made some truly horrific decisions in key situations. Gruden is probably getting tired of that with his team now 1-8.
Jon Gruden approached the season with an intention to win, but after getting off to a poor start, the Oakland Raiders changed directions quickly and decided to rebuild. They’ve traded top talent like Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper and received several first-round picks in return, and they’ll be armed with plenty of salary cap space in the future.
Between all the high draft picks and salary cap space, Gruden said this week that he believes the Raiders are in a good spot for the future.
Jon Gruden On how good of a spot the team is in with three first round draft picks in the 2019 NFL Draft:
“I think we’ve accumulated five first round picks in the next two years. I think, obviously, we’ve got some money to spend on potential free agents, which is also exciting.”
— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) November 14, 2018
There is no doubt that the Raiders are loaded with assets heading into the future. The question is whether Gruden is the person who can best take advantage of them.
Between his decision to take Kolton Miller in the first round this year, his trade for Martavis Bryant, and things like his signing of Jordy Nelson, we have our serious doubts about whether he can turn picks and cap space into a winner.
The 2018 NFL regular season has now officially hit the midway point, and it’s been a very adventurous ride through the first eight weeks, with things getting even uglier for a struggling Raiders team. Here’s a look at the NFL’s 10 biggest mid-season surprises.
10. Giants’ offense is still pure comedy
With a new general manager, new head coach, new offensive coordinator, revamped offensive line and the addition of rookie running back Saquon Barkley, many expected the Giants to feature one of the league’s best offenses a year removed from being on of the worst. Instead, things have remarkably gone the other way with the Giants consistently struggling despite a roster of big names. Through eight games, they average just 18.8 points per game and just 7.2 points in the first half. They are converting just 35% of their third-down attempts and have a success rate of just 40% in the red zone. It all amounts to a team 28th in the league in points scored this season.