It seems clear at this point that Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and his general manager, Mike Mayock, are not interested in a rebuild, they’re looking to re-load.
What’s the difference? In a rebuild, you’re looking at a minimum 2-3 year process. In a re-load, you’re looking to be competitive right away. I’ve often compared it to shooting the moon in spades or hearts. It’s a risky proposition, but when it’s pulled off, the bounty is worth the risk.
To be clear, a re-load rather than a methodical rebuild isn’t my preferred version of team building. I’m a naturally risk averse person so I tend not to be the type to look towards the risky path.
But now that we’re a good ways down this path, I have to say that at the very least, there’s a plan for this season and it’s a better plan than I expected to emerge.
I loved the Antonio Brown trade, but I love it even more in the context of the other moves that the Raiders made on offense. First they signed Trent Brown to make sure that Derek Carr has enough time to find his new top target. That alone was a great move that made the Brown trade even more valuable.
But the real genius was bolstering the wide receiver corps with Tyrell Williams and JJ Nelson. The Raiders now have more talent in their WR room than they’ve had since Jerry Rice and Tim Brown shared the room.
Having legitimate targets on the other side of the field makes it harder for teams to focus on Brown and gives Carr other good options when teams do overcompensate to cover Brown.
After the Raiders grabbed AB, there was no way I would have put wide receiver high on the list of targets. But that’s because, for better or for worse, I wasn’t thinking the way Gruden was.
Rather than a slow build, Gruden is clearly intent on getting the offense to play at a high level now, and hope they play good enough to drag an improved, but still not good defense into the playoffs.
The downside is that this plan could still blowup in Gruden’s face. If Gruden wants his get rich quick scheme to pay off, he’s going to need cooperation from his offensive line. But the Raiders created a question mark on the offensive line after the team traded Kelechi Osemele. The raiders hope they have their answer to that question in Denzelle Good but that is yet to be seen. Plus, that question mark is on top of already existing question marks about Kolton Miller and offensive line coach Tom Cable.
But I love that Gruden isn’t just beating around the bush with the roster re-load. I like that he’s being aggressive and has put together one of the better WR groups in the league. It’s a risky strategy but one that could pay off big and I’m hopeful that it works as well as Gruden thinks it will.
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