Raiders’ Darren Waller Takes Subtle Shot at Jon Gruden

darren waller

Getty Darren Waller with Jon Gruden.

Jon Gruden’s return to the Raiders wasn’t a big success but he did get the team going in the right direction. They improved in wins each year under him. However, expectations are a lot higher for a coach making $10 million a year and Gruden didn’t meet those.

Despite being fashioned as an offensive guru, one of the Raiders’ biggest issues under him involved the offense. The team could not score touchdowns in the red zone at a high enough rate. They were never better than 22nd in the NFL in red zone touchdown efficiency during Gruden’s time with the team, per Team Rankings.

The Raiders have had a perfect red zone target in Darren Waller. The star tight end is 6-foot-6 and can jump higher than most defenders can reach. Despite that, Waller only has 14 touchdowns in three seasons. He’s now got a new head coach in Josh McDaniels who will hopefully solve the Raiders’ red zone issues. Waller recently opened up about the red zone woes and made it seem like Gruden didn’t really know what he was doing when calling the offense once the field shortened.

“There was a lot of times in the last couple years where I felt like there wasn’t a clear defined attack in the red zone or like a plan for me specifically. I was kind of like “what the f*** am I doing?’ sometimes,” Waller said on the “Bussin’ with the Boys” podcast. “But now I kind of feel like that’s something that’s in place with Josh [McDaniels]… for me there’s no reason why my big a** shouldn’t be dominating in the red zone at all times.”

It certainly sounds like Waller is more confident in McDaniels’ ability to get him looks in the end zone than he ever was in Gruden.

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Can McDaniels Fix Raiders’ Red Zone Issues?

A big reason owner Mark Davis wanted to hire McDaniels was so that he can fix the red zone issues. The Raiders have too much talent on offense not to score more touchdowns. The team has a great kicker in Daniel Carlson, who led the NFL in scoring over the past two years, but they’d prefer if he came on the field a lot less.

In New England, McDaniels was able to field an offense that had success in the red zone. The Patriots ranked seventh in red zone touchdown efficiency last season, and they did that with a rookie quarterback. McDaniels now has Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs, Hunter Renfrow, Davante Adams and Waller to work with. He should have no problem getting the Raiders to score touchdowns all over the field this season.

Waller’s Training Camp Absence Finally Explained

Waller has missed several training camp practices in a row for the Raiders, which naturally causes concern. There’s been talk about him wanting a new contract so there was even speculation that he could be holding out. However, there’s finally more clarity on what ails him.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Waller has been held out of practice with a hamstring injury “that is not considered serious.”

This is good news for the Raiders as he remains one of their most important players despite the trade for Adams.

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