It could be argued that the Oakland Raiders needed to shake things up after the past two games in which they lost by a combined score of 74-12.
If every player on the roster was healthy and good to go on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, not doing so would be the literal definition of insanity, which you’ve likely heard is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.
One way or another, the Raiders need to shake things up in order to finish the season off strong. Yet, after Friday’s press conference, when Jon Gruden announced that several key players are either OUT or questionable, the Raiders are “shaking things up” due to the most real kind of necessity.
They literally do not have a choice.
The biggest area of change in the Raiders’ lineup on Sunday will be Brandon Parker starting at right tackle in place of the injured Trent Brown of whom Gruden said Friday, “He’s had several injuries this year, and he’s just not ready to go right now. And Brandon [Parker] and David [Sharpe] and everybody else will just have to step up.”
It’s bad timing for a Raiders’ offense which is already struggling to score points. Brown has arguably been the Raiders’ most consistent offensive lineman this season.
But given that the theme of the week is mixing things up, maybe the change will be a blessing in disguise. After all, Gruden does not yet know how long Brown will be out with his pectoral injury. “I’ll have to get back to you on that [Brown’s availability going forward]. I know he’s not playing this week. Hopefully we get him back.”
Gruden is excited about the potential that Parker displays.
“When you become a swing tackle, that means you obviously got to play left and right tackle, and he did that throughout training camp. I think he’s had some good moments. He obviously had a couple weeks where we didn’t see enough, and he’s really done well the last 7-8 weeks on the practice field. We’re anxious to see him. We’re going to miss Trent, obviously, but it’s a great opportunity for Brandon.”
Though in a less important role, the Raiders are mixing things up at another position this week, electing to dress DeShone Kizer as the backup quarterback to Derek Carr instead of Mike Glennon.
This is a decision made, as much as any, as a way to mix things up and start projecting for the future.
“He [Kizer] has done well. It’s really not an indictment on Glennon. We like Mike, obviously. You can only have two guys active. He’s athletic, he’s really picking up the system, he’s working hard. And I want to see him get more reps on the practice field, so I can see more in the next 3-4 weeks before the season closes.”
If Kizer were to get in the game, he may not have the team’s most reliable running back to hand it off to. Of Josh Jacobs, Gruden said, “If he can’t go, you’ll see a lot more of Deandre [Washington] and Jalen [Richard]. We’ve got the big back, the fullback, Ingold ready to carry the ball as well. He might just dot the I a few times. Maybe we’ll put Cable or Lemm in there at fullback.”
That would really be a shakeup. In fact, it would look a lot like what the Buccaneers did before and during Gruden’s tenure in Tampa by featuring fullback Mike Alstott as a halfback, or like when Peyton Hillis turned into a tailback in Cleveland and rode that train all the way to the cover of Madden 12. Nobody anticipates Ingold will have that kind of production, or even earn enough carries for that to be in consideration. But it’s fun to think about.
If nothing else, mentioning all these different possibilities, especially at running back, on Friday may make the Tennessee Titans’ coaching staff scramble a bit in the final two days preceding Sunday’s game. Maybe it’s just a little gamesmanship from the head coach of the Raiders.
Or maybe it truly is out of necessity. “I can’t shake it up any more than it already is. I mean it’s shaken man. The ground is shaking while I’m standing here. Honest to God, what would you like to see here?”
If shaking things up, whether by necessity or not, leads to a more efficient offense with fewer penalties, turnovers, and other miscues, nobody in Raider Nation would complain.
It’s ultimately going to come down to Derek Carr, just as most NFL games come down to the quarterback. He must step up and lead the team in the midst of turnover at various offensive positions, especially two as important as right tackle and running back.
It’s a difficult challenge on Sunday, but it’s surely one the Raiders will embrace.