Ken Norton, Jr. was a garbage time field goal away from pitching a shutout against his former team, the Oakland Raiders, on Sunday.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Ken Norton, Jr. was the worst defensive coordinator in the league when he was with the Raiders. And Jon Gruden has been hailed as an offensive genius. Yet, Gruden had no answers for KNJ’s defense. And that’s a real big problem.
Of course, many will read the start of this piece and immediately start yelling at the computer about the injuries on the Raiders offensive line.
So naturally, I will need to remind all of those who are yelling about what was discussed last week after the Raiders were beaten thoroughly by the Chargers. Yes, there are injuries. Yes, those injuries may have been so severe, the Raiders would not have been able to overcome them. Yet at the same time, yes, the coaching staff failed to even attempt to scheme around them.
With the Chargers, we saw a team without both of their starting tackles and one of the replacements for those starters against the Raiders? An UDFA. Yet when the two teams played, only the Raiders looked like they were suffering from injuries on their line. Why? Because the Chargers changed their game plan in order to take pressure off of the backup offensive tackles. The Raiders failed to do that against the Chargers.
And they failed to do it once again against the Seahawks.
And perhaps what’s most upsetting is that it appears Gruden realized that but still did nothing about it. At one point late in the game, Derek Carr was hit and fumbled the ball for the second time. As he made his way to the sideline, Gruden could be seen saying “that one is on me.”
Why? Because he called a play where he asked his injured rookie offensive tackle, Kolton Miller, to block a guy one on one who had killed him all day long. Gruden didn’t give him any help with a tight end or running back. He didn’t give Carr any help by calling a play that had Carr run a boot leg or move the pocket.
And this was the problem all day long. There was insane pressure in Carr’s face from the first quarter on and yet the Raiders did little to nothing to adjust to that. I didn’t see a bubble screen until the fourth quarter despite the fact that the Raiders have a guy in Martavis Bryant who is perfect for it. No time in the pocket? Then find a way to get the ball in the hands of playmakers like Bryant and Amari Cooper and let them find ways to make yards.
But we didn’t see the Raiders even try that until garbage time. Oh, and it worked, by the way. The pass was for about a yard but Bryant ran for another 10-11 yards. Perhaps had they gone to more of those kinds of plays earlier in the game, this thing wouldn’t have been such a blow out.
But the offensive genius, Jon Gruden, opted to go with his normal game plan, which almost got Derek Carr killed.