Raiders’ Jon Gruden Has Strong Comments About Marcus Mariota

marcus mariota

Getty Jon Gruden giving Marcus Mariota a high-five.

When Derek Carr went down for the Las Vegas Raiders in the first quarter of Thursday Night Football, it looked like the team was done for. Marcus Mariota hadn’t played in a long time and didn’t look great last time he was on the field. Well, he surprised everybody and actually put together a really strong performance.

Despite the fact that he hasn’t played, Jon Gruden put a lot of trust in Mariota. The trust was rewarded with a perfect touchdown pass to Darren Waller on his first drive. Mariota plays a very different style than Carr but the Raiders made it work for the most part.

“It’s just a real credit to the coaches and really a credit to Mariota,” Gruden said after the loss. “He’s a helluva player. We called some plays we didn’t really practice … but if Derek can’t go, we’re going to always try and do what our quarterback does best and this guy can really run. He’s a dual-threat, and he proved it tonight.”

The Raiders failed to pull off the run in the end but that wasn’t on Mariota. Gruden deserves a lot of heat for his questionable play calling at the end of the game. Was Mariota perfect? No. But he did show why it’s important to have a capable backup on the roster.

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Waller Praises Mariota

One player who immediately had a connection with Mariota was Waller. The tight end caught nine passes in Thursday’s game for 150 yards and a touchdown. It just once again proves that he’s one of the top-three receiving tight ends in the NFL. He was happy to see Mariota come in and play well.

“I feel like Marcus played great,” Waller said. “The way Marcus comes to practice every day, he has a good attitude and plays hard. I feel like it was no surprise to see him play the way he did tonight.”

When backups come in, they typically like to target tight ends. Fortunately for Mariota, he had one of the best in the world to throw to. The two men had instant chemistry and could help each other out quite a bit if Carr is done for the year.

Carr’s Injury Is ‘Significant’

The Raiders probably won’t be able to give a real update on Carr’s injury status until Friday at the earliest, but Gruden did drop some insight. He said he didn’t believe the quarterback tore his groin but he did describe the injury as “significant.”

Mariota played well but the team still lost. Carr provides the team with the best opportunity to win games and he’s getting paid a lot of money. The Raiders appear to be in good hands if Mariota needs to start the last two games. If he plays well, there will be a quarterback controversy heading into the offseason. The Raiders would have two viable quarterback options and one of them could be used as trade bait to net a solid draft pick.

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