At least with the Raiders no reason to blame QB or coach
6:32 PM
Art Spander in Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders, articles, football

  ALAMEDA—In New York, they’re blaming the quarterback, Eli Manning, which is understandable it not necessarily justified since it’s New York and the quarterback is the easiest to blame.

   It you don’t find fault with the coach, who, in Green Bay, Mike McCarthy, is accused of failing to take advantage of Aaron Rodgers’ talent.

  But here in the territory of reality, resignation and 2-9 NFL franchises, no one is upset with anybody in particular. Not particularly happy either, but it’s been a long while since either the 49ers or Raiders played what might be called a meaningful game—other than the one against each other.

   At Raider Central, where as always on Mondays Jon Gruden acts remarkably upbeat after downbeat Sundays, the issues were less caustic than some 30 miles down I-880, where Reuben Foster’s assault charge was the topic of the day.

    No one among the 20 or so Raider media had the temerity to ask Gruden if he were pleased that with all the other problems in this season of return to coaching and to the Raiders at least he didn’t have to deal with something or someone like Foster.

    There was an inquiry about the Raiders run defense, or lack of same, Baltimore Ravens rookie Gus Edwards  rushing for 118 yards on 33 carries and quarterback Lamar Jackson another 71 yards on 11 carries. Of course, Oakland hasn’t stopped the run in any game this season, which is as reason the Raiders are 2-9.

  “It’s a unique way of doing business right now in Baltimore,” said Gruden. “It’s a 250-pound back. (Edwards is listed at a mere 238). It’s an electrifying 4-3 quarterback. (One who uses his feet as well as his arm)  One’s going one way, and the other is going the other way. The young man can throw the football, so you have to defend a lot of different things.

 “There were times we made some mistakes up front. You really have to credit the Raven front for being physical.”

  In other words for having bigger, stronger or in the case of Jackson, speedier, players. The race may not always be to the swift or the battle to the strong, but that’s a pretty smart way to bet.

  The times the Raiders weren’t shoved aside they were run around.

    The Raiders overall simply don’t have the talent. This in part may be corrected by the 2019 draft, since Oakland has numerous first-round picks, but selections don’t always develop as hoped.

   When he was in full control of the Raiders and a step ahead of other teams, Al Davis went first after offensive linemen—think Gene Upshaw, Art Shell and Dave Dalby for a start—then after defensive backs.  You’d knock people around when you had the ball and knock passes down when they had it.

  Oakland did use its overall top pick in the 2018 draft on offensive tackle Kolton Miller, but he’s still gaining experience.

   “It went pretty good,” Gruden said about Miller against the Ravens. “Last week (Arizona) it was Chandler Jones. This week it was Terrell Suggs and Matthew Judon. It’s never perfect, but the last two weeks he’s played pretty good football for us.”

  Raider quarterback Derek Carr was sacked only three times by the Raven defense. But he’s been sacked 35 times total in the 11 games, for a loss of 200 yards, Hard to go forward when in effect you’re going backward.

  At times Carr had been reluctant to throw because he couldn’t find an open receiver. Other times he just got buried by the pass rush. Gruden was critical the first few games but no longer.

  “I think he’s a heck of a quarterback,” Gruden insisted. “I’ll leave it at that. I look forward to someday when we have all the pieces in place, and we have some continuity, and everybody is used to play with one another. I just think this guy has a real high ceiling, and he has a lot or pride in his performance.”

  All the pieces in place. Anybody have an idea when that will be?

Article originally appeared on Art Spander (http://artspander.com/).
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