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Jon Gruden says he does not regret trading Khalil Mack, hopes to prove long term Raiders ‘did the right thing’

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a little over two weeks since the Raiders unexpectedly traded star pass rusher Khalil Mack, but for Jon Gruden the questions just keep on coming.

Standing at the podium after a heart-breaking 20-19 loss to the Broncos, Jon Gruden was asked what the Raiders have to do to get a pass rush going. After a long pause, with a blank stare Gruden responded, “We gotta do something.”

Meeting with members of the media in his usual Monday press conference, Gruden was once again asked if he had any regrets on the trade, considering the lack of pass rush in both games.

“No, it doesn’t make me regret,” said Gruden. “We made the trade, we may the trade. There is going to be some hindsight, 50-50, all that stuff. We would have loved to have him here and I’m not going to keep rehashing this. I would have loved to coach him, loved to have him here, but he’s not. Somebody’s got to step up.”

After two weeks, it’s hard to believe Gruden doesn’t regret the move on some level. The Raiders have generated next to no pass rush, registering only two sacks. When the game was on the line and the defense needed someone to step up and make a play, nobody was to be found.

The decision to trade Mack was made with the hopes that the strong training camp and preseason by rookies Maurice Hurst, PJ Hall, and Arden Key would show up during the season. Now two weeks into the season things haven’t looked quite as promising.

PJ Hall missed Sunday’s game with a sprained ankle, and according to Gruden is doubtful for week three. Arden Key, who was drafted as a situational rusher has been forced to play far more snaps that initially thought.

“We got to keep building our football team and that’s what we are going to do,” Gruden continued. “Hopefully, we see more from Arden Key. Hopefully, we see more from PJ Hall when he gets healthy. Hopefully, we prove that in the long term we did the right thing.”

It may not be fair to judge the outcome of the trade solely on two games or even one season. And the trade being for future draft picks including first rounders in 2019 and 2020 means the Raiders won’t see the return on the trade until next season and beyond.