Gruden keeps saying the only distraction with all the Antonio Brown drama is in the media. And by the way his team went out and performed against the Broncos Monday Night, it’s hard to argue that. I mean, I know I’ve been distracted by all the nonsense. Sometimes this job isn’t as enjoyable than other times, and dealing with the constant AB circus has definitely been one of those times.
So, good for the Raiders to be able to use football as an outlet to take their mind off of it. At least when they are on the practice field and the playing field.
Off of the field, it’s grinding on Gruden. After the game, he wouldn’t even say AB’s name or anything that went down. I asked him if the team was able to at least rally around this and he shot it down
“I’m never going to bring it up again,” said Gruden of Antonio Brown. “That incident, whatever you call it, had nothing to do with our team’s focus or preparation. That’s it, end of story. Sorry.”
Distractions aside, what AB did, forcing his way off the team through a series of social media posts and threatening GM Mike Mayock and calling him a “cracker” in practice in front of the entire team, was selfish and potentially destructive. Gruden has said he is emotional about it because he traded for Brown, went to bat for him over and over, and had more patience with him than he has ever been known for. Eventually Brown’s antics and the questions about them got to be too much and he just needed the cancer removed.
“As much as people talk about it. I mean my God, I feel like someone’s smashing my temple on the side the head,” Gruden said just minutes after saying he was never bringing it up again. “Get over it, man, it’s over. We were good in the preseason without him. We’re going to be fine without him”
And in true Gruden fashion, he had a nice subtle passive aggressive jab as only Gruden can
“We wish him the best,” Gruden said of AB. “We gave it a shot. And now New England gets their turn. Good luck to them. But I just can’t deal with it anymore, sorry.”
The fans are less subtle. Many of them also defended AB passionately since the team traded for him last March. That passion has shifted to utter disdain. It manifested itself in the crowd at Oakland Coliseum breaking into chants of “Fuck AB! Fuck AB! Fuck AB!” every time there was a big pass play or a score.
There were quite a few big pass plays and scores for the Raiders in this game, and therefore many chances for the fans to tell Antonio Brown what they think of him and his efforts to sabotage this team.
Carr had several long passes to Tyrell Williams including a 43-yarder and 23-yarder. He also had a 25-yard bomb to Darren Waller. Williams also caught an 8-yard touchdown with the other two touchdowns coming on Josh Jacobs runs as the Raiders would lead wire to wire in their 24-16 win over the Broncos.
This AB stuff is still fresh for them. I mean, it may seem like it’s been weeks, but it’s been days. Like two days since he demanded and received his release. They either won’t talk about it or insist it had no affect on their mindset, but I don’t believe it for one second. Derek Carr looked like he had an unusual steely resolve in pregame and the receiving corps put up with a whole training camp and preseason of questions about how good they could be once Brown came back and how much they miss him in the offense. They had something to prove.
Tyrell Williams certainly proved he could be the number one receiver the Raiders need him to be. He put up 6 catches for 105 yards and a TD.. Tight end Darren Waller added 7 catches for 70 yards on the same night the man he replaced played his first game for the New Orleans Saints. For what it’s worth Jared Cook had 2 catches for 37 yards. But both would probably tell you, the fact that they both won was the only thing that mattered.
This one was important. They lose and the questions continue. But they won. That will silence the noise for now. The Patriots can listen to it for a while.