Everything about this team screams rebuild from the ground up. From the trading of Khalil Mack to the reports of trade discussions involving Amari Cooper and Karl Joseph, to the considerable playing time by the rookie class.
Fourth round cornerback Nick Nelson will get on the field for the first time when the team returns from the bye, which would mean someone else would have to sit out.
Nelson’s introduction to the defense would mean every one of the team’s top seven picks would be contributing. That fact also suggests this team, now 1-5 on the season, is shifting into development mode. And Gruden wants this loss to fuel this rookie crop.
“I told the rookies after the game, don’t forget this,” Gruden said. “Just because you’re in the league doesn’t mean it’s going to be a pleasant experience. You know, you can get your butt kicked in this league, and you, I want the rookies to take advantage of this playing time. They all know: They have got to get stronger, they have got to get faster, they have got to become better students of this game, because it’s tough going up against guys that have played this fora living for seven, eight, nine, ten years, especially a world champion quarterback.”
Gruden added that he is playing the team’s best players, but that may not be saying much right now. If there’s nothing separating your starter and your backup, you play the young player who has potential and who can help you long term. And in some cases, they are the only option — for instance at the tackle spots.
With the bye week ahead and the team at a loss for answers to put a competent product on the field, a performance like they had at Wembley needs to be the catalyst for a major overhaul. Literally out with the old and in with the new aka the young.
The linebackers are one of the worst units in football. Derrick Johnson’s presence is not adding anything at this point, so get Nickolas Morrow, who showed great potential as a rookie, in the there.
The pass rush hasn’t been what it should be and Arden Key got his first sack today, so bid farewell to Frostee Rucker and start Arden Key, who got his first career sack tonight.
The safeties are a tossup, so see what you have in Erik Harris and, if they’re keeping Karl Joseph, get in him in there too. And replace Leon Hall in the slot with Nick Nelson.
And if they are trading Amari Cooper, just do it and call up seventh round rookie Marcell Ateman from the practice squad to see what he can offer.
The short game is lost. This is a long game now. No point in half stepping it.