Through the first three weeks of the season, Jon Gruden has the Oakland Raiders firing on all cylinders to start games. In three weeks, the Raiders have scored on each of their opening possessions, two touchdowns and a field goal. Through those first three games, Gruden has also led his team to a lead by halftime.
But through those first three games, he’s also been outcoached in the second half and currently stands at 0-3 on the year.
Gruden is a head coach who scripts his first 15-20 plays every week. He studies that week’s opponent then drafts a script of plays to start each game based on attacking a certain part of the opponent’s defense. And each week, the scripted plays have led to a score. Each week, the scripted plays have made the Raiders offense look head and shoulders better than their opponent. Each week, it’s clear that Gruden knows how to come out firing and attack his opponent efficiently.
But each week, the Raiders opponent uses halftime to make adjustments and in the second half, the team Gruden had dominating the first half suddenly became almost inept.
The Raiders have scored 35 points in the first half of games this season. Meanwhile, they’ve only managed 17 points in the second half and only three points in the fourth quarter. Oh, and those three points in the fourth quarter? They came with 25 seconds left in a game where the Raiders were trailing by two scores.
We know Gruden is capable of game planning for an opponent in the lead up to a game. What we have yet to see is Gruden winning the second half chess match that comes with halftime adjustments. Winning the first half is great, but when you can’t respond to adjustments being made by your opponent, the result is losing the second half and the game.
Not only do the Raiders need to show they’re capable of playing a full 60 minutes, Jon Gruden needs to show he’s capable of coaching for the full 60 minutes.
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