The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / NFL / Ken Norton, Jr. is the Raiders Coach with the Coolest Seat

Ken Norton, Jr. is the Raiders Coach with the Coolest Seat

Ken Norton Jr.'s seat getting cold
Nov 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. encourages the defense before the start of the game against the New York Jets at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders have lost back to back games and have looked really bad doing so. It’s not as if the Raiders lost tough games where they played their best and things just didn’t fall their way. No, this is a case of the Raiders performing poorly and in particular, the second week of the offense playing very poorly.

And after back to back flubs, the attention must turn to the Raiders coaching staff.

But the heat isn’t aimed where many thought it would be at this point in the season. Instead of cursing the name of Ken Norton, Jr. on Sunday, most fans were cursing the name of offensive coordinator, Todd Downing. The rookie OC got the job in a rather surprising move when the Raiders allowed Bill Musgrave to walk after his contract ended, despite putting together an elite offense in 2016.

Now, after two solid performances by Downing, the once powerful Raiders offense has looked more inept than powerful for two straight weeks.

I believe it’s too early to give up on Downing as an OC, lots of guys go through rough spots in their first go but are able to overcome and improve. Downing has a lot of time left in the season to get things right, but after back to back no shows from a supposedly powerhouse offense, it’s certainly fair to be discussing Downing as a major reason this team has lost back to back games.

The Raiders didn’t look nearly as flat in Denver as they did in Washington, but they also didn’t look like themselves. The looked like a team that still had the memory of a but whooping in the forefront of their minds. Players seemed hesitant at times and were just flat out losing one on one battles at times.

And as I always say, whenever a team underperforms in a big way, you need to discuss the head coach. Lots of people want to talk about Jack Del Rio and place blame on him for this defense because he’s a defensive minded coach. For me, while I’d expect a better defense from him, it’s more of the big picture issues where I grade a head coach.

And right now, there are two big picture issues that hang heavy on Jack Del Rio. First, why this team has been so flat It’s the head coach’s job to make sure a team is mentally ready to play. The head coach is the leader and when a team no shows the way the Raiders have, that’s on their leader.

Second, the decision to let Bill Musgrave walk and promote Todd Downing has so far not been a good one. It’s still early and things could change. As I said before, Downing has a lot of time to get better. But while it’s a small sample size, its been a big time disappointment so it has to be discussed.

There’s no guarantee that the Raiders offense wouldn’t be having struggles if they still had Bill Musgrave, but until things get figured out, the major difference between the dominant offense we saw last year and the inept one we’ve seen these past two games is the coordinator.

Meanwhile, if you look at both of these losses, the one thing you can’t ignore is the fact that they felt much, much worse than the score indicated. And that, shockingly enough, is thanks to a defense that has played better than expected.


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