With all the coaching news swirling around the league and especially the Raiders, it’s easy to forget the Raiders actually played a football game yesterday. Some parts of the game went really well, but obviously, some did not in the Raiders’ 30-10 loss to the Chargers, giving the Bolts a season sweep over Oakland.
1) Marshawn Lynch
Beast Mode has appeared on the Good list several times this season and, in a year where the offense has seriously underperformed, Lynch has been perhaps the only bright spot. He rushed for 101 yards against the Chargers, going over the 10,000-yard mark for his career, and he appears to be in fine shape. He is under contract for the 2018 season, so perhaps the new coaching staff will find a role for Lynch in whatever offensive system the team features next year.
2) Amari Cooper
While he only caught three passes, Cooper made the most of them, going for 115 yards and a touchdown. That score came on an 87-yard bomb from Derek Carr. One wonders why Cooper wasn’t targeted more often, since he had that kind of success in the early going.
3) Keenan Allen
Cooper had a great day for a receiver, but Allen had an elite one. He caught nine passes for 133 yards and a score and was virtually uncoverable, getting whatever he wanted on crossing routes. The former second-round pick, when healthy, is one of the top receivers in the NFL.
4) A pair of coaches
The first coach I want to talk about here is Anthony Lynn. The season, and by extension Lynn’s first head coaching gig, did not go according to plan. Since the Chargers’ 0-4 start, Lynn turned the ship around and went 9-3 over the last 12 games of the season. Maybe his success can be sustained and maybe it can’t, but Lynn isn’t a total failure today, even though the Chargers missed the playoffs.
The other one I want to mention is Jon Gruden. Since his dismissal from the Buccaneers many years ago, Gruden has been biding his time, sitting in his lair and plotting his return to the sport. In an effort to maintain his grip on the game, Gruden ran a quarterback camp leading up to the draft each year, gathering intelligence and possible blackmail material on each and every big-time quarterback prospect who would enter the league. He joined ESPN and Monday Night Football so he could scout every other team and coach in the NFL. He waited, and he learned.
Until one day...
Gruden knew this day would come. He knew that one day, Al Davis would move on to the Great Pirate Ship in the Sky, and whoever took over would need a coach. A coach who knew the organization. A coach who had the dirt on everyone else. And as soon as Gruden is done with the Chiefs vs. Titans game, his day will arrive. And when it does, the NFL will be child’s play.
1) Jack Del Rio
From one point of view, Jack Del Rio deserved to be fired. He never cleaned up the ‘little details’ that make a team successful or not, despite blaming those details each and every week for his team’s lack of success. He made disastrous choices at both coordinator spots, including Ken Norton Jr. and Todd Downing. He clearly lost the team and they didn’t play hard with any consistency.
From another point of view, Del Rio got jobbed. Perhaps Downing was the problem, perhaps injuries were. John Pagano most certainly got the defense playing at a high level where Ken Norton Jr. never could. So why not give Del Rio another year? Because Mark Davis found a shiny new toy in Jon Gruden, and the perfect opportunity to bring Gruden back. So Del Rio was put down like a horse with a broken leg.
2) Michael Crabtree
Crabtree has been a pretty big part of Oakland’s success in the past couple seasons, earning himself a contract extension over the offseason. But in the past month he has fallen out of favor with the coaching staff and hasn’t been a big part of their game plan recently. He had only two catches for 17 yards against the Chargers. It remains to be seen whether the new coaching staff will choose to keep him in their plans or cut him loose.
3) The Browns
Yesterday the Cleveland Browns completed a feat that has only been done twice in the history of the NFL: Going 0-16 for an entire season. It truly is an incredible accomplishment and one that will be long remembered in Ohio sports history. But this feat did not get Hue Jackson fired, oh no. It got him a one-way trip into Lake Erie from whence he may not return, because that lake is really, really cold.
But all is not lost for Cleveland. Due to their trade with the Texans in the last draft, the Browns possess the #1 and #4 picks in the upcoming April NFL Draft. They could easily draft a franchise quarterback and a stud defender or running back. They could quickly turn things around the way the Niners have done with Jimmy G. But for today, they are 0-16, and deserve the ridicule that brings.
4) The Broncos
When the season ended with a home loss to the Chiefs, rumors were rampant that Broncos head coach Vance Joseph and his whole staff would be fired. Joseph was not fired, nor was OC Bill Musgrave, but most of the rest of the staff was. Not that I’m one to interrupt an enemy while they are making a mistake, but I must question the wisdom of retaining Joseph when he continually made the wrong call regarding who would start at quarterback each and every week. The Broncos have three crappy quarterbacks, yet only two are ever crappy at the same time. The Broncos never started the good one, but they often let him finish the game.
What in Joseph’s history would indicate he is able to lead the Broncos to any success? He doesn’t have a track record of success like Jack Del Rio does. John Elway seems to be flying by the seat of his pants without Wade Phillips or Peyton Manning. They’re going to have to ignore a multitude of other needs and take a quarterback in the first round if they want to compete on a serious level again.