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Jon Gruden seeks balanced attack for Raiders: Pounding the rock vs three-wide sets

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Oakland Raiders v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Already a sharp offensive mind, Jon Gruden has inherited a team with the personnel to run any scheme he can dream up. He has a solid offensive line, great skill position players and one of the league’s best young quarterbacks.

So what will be the tendencies of Gruden’s offense? The new Raiders coach tackled that question during a conference call with Raiders season ticket holders on Wednesday.

“That’s the tough decision that we’ve got to make. A lot of callers today want to see Marshawn Lynch, they want to see him pound it between the tackles. And I think to really do that effectively, you gotta put Lee Smith on the field at tight end, you gotta put a fullback in front of him and you gotta go after people physically,” said Gruden.

This is why the Raiders have invested so heavily in the traditional fullback role in this offseason, bringing in Keith Smith from the Cowboys and also several fullbacks via undrafted free agency. Furthermore, first round tackle Kolton Miller is a superior run blocker, and the Raiders added Doug Martin to their running back corps. The Raiders hope he and Lynch can be the one-two punch the team lacked last year, with Jalen Richard and De’Andre Washington not being terribly successful between the tackles.

“We also want to spread people out and get to our three receiver sets and use Jared Cook who’s an outstanding receiving tight end and let Derek Carr go to work. So, we’re going to have the ability to attack different ways. If you watch New England play over the years they’re able to do what they need on a weekly basis to win a football game, so if it is going three wides or four wides, we’ll do that. If it is going two tight ends and two backs, we’ll be able to do that as well,” said Gruden.

That balance of run and pass was a hallmark of Gruden’s first tenure as Raiders coach and is one of the principles of the Al Davis offensive attack- batter the defense with the rush and then throw it over their heads. The best teams have balance on offense and the personnel to excel in every aspect of the game.

Oakland’s three-wide set would ostensibly include Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant. On paper, that seems like one of the best trios in the league, and Derek Carr should be able to exploit favorable matchups especially considering the presence and abilities of Jared Cook. Combine that with the pass-catching abilities of Richard and Washington, and Oakland may have one of the most potent offensive attacks in the league.