Things are starting to get very frustrating for the Las Vegas Raiders. They were a much better team than the Miami Dolphins last year but it’s clear that they are already way ahead of the silver and black in their rebuild. Jon Gruden has an unprecedented amount of power within the organization and while he’s been able to dodge a lot of the heat, many are starting to question him.
Some of his playcalling over the last several weeks has been baffling. This is most obvious when the Raiders get into the red zone. The team is 25th in the NFL on touchdown percentage in the red zone while being 11th in average points per game. NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe couldn’t help but take a shot at Gruden for his playcalling against Miami.
Gruden’s playcalling in the red zone has been predictable and baffling at the same time. It doesn’t seem like he ever dials up a play for Darren Waller or Henry Ruggs in the red zone. At a certain point, Gruden needs to let his best players make plays and stop trying to force the ball to guys like Jason Witten and Alec Ingold.
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Jon Gruden Defends Late-Game Decision
The Raiders will no doubt throw a lot of excuses around once the season ends. COVID-19 issues, injuries to key players and having no fans in stands will likely be blamed for the team’s struggles. However, every team can make these excuses. What can’t be excused is the obviously bad decisions Gruden has made this season. Instead of taking the easy touchdown against the Dolphins and giving the team a six-point lead, the coach decided to take a knee to run some more clock. He settled for a field goal and Miami got the Dolphins with less than 30 seconds left.
Miami was able to drive down into field goal range and win the game. In hindsight, Gruden’s decision was really bad but he stands by it.
“I don’t regret taking a knee,” Gruden said. “They made a desperation play, and we had a penalty on top of that — inexcusable. … I didn’t want Fitzpatrick to have the ball, he’s a gunslinger and he was hot. That’s all I can say.
“I don’t regret it one bit, I just regret the results. … The penalty was horrific.”
Arden Key’s penalty was obviously bad but the defense still left a receiver wide open. It’s possible Ryan Fitzpatrick hits another quick strike that gets them in field goal range.
Will Gruden Figure Things Out?
The third year of Gruden’s rebuild is almost over and it’s fair to question if the team has gotten any better. There were teams that were arguably in worse spots than the Raiders that have already passed them up like the Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals.
At a certain point, Gruden needs to be accountable for the Raiders’ struggles. He’s the guy in charge so the fact that there are talent deficiencies all over the defense is partially on him. There have been times this season that Gruden looks like a mastermind. He outcoached Andy Reid and Sean Payton at points. He still can put together an excellent gameplan but he needs more accountability. If he looks at his shortcomings this offseason and finds people to put around him that mask those problems, the Raiders could be a really good team.