NFL: Pro Bowl-Team Irvin Practice
Jan 23, 2015; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; ESPN broadcaster and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders former coach Jon Gruden at Team Irvin practice at Scottsdale Community College in advance of the 2015 Pro Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Gruden’s second act starts with a dud

The Oakland Raiders started out well enough. They led 13-10 at halftime of their Monday Night Football affair against the Los Angeles Rams. The Oakland Coliseum was in full throat. Things were looking up, until the second half kickoff.

From there, the Rams romped and rolled to 23 unanswered points. They ended up beating the Raiders 33-13 in front if their overwhelmed fans. In the end, the Oakland Raiders weren’t able to lay a finger on Jared Goff. That is something that Khalil Mack might have helped with. The Raiders also weren’t able to generate an ounce of offense, with Derek Carr throwing three interceptions on the night.

In totality, the Raiders looked overmatched on their way to what could be a very long season.

 

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Jon Gruden was supposed to be the savior. The franchise hasn’t won a playoff game since beating the Tennessee Titans in the 2002 AFC Championship Game. Oakland looked to be on track in 2016 at the hand of Jack Del Rio. The team went 12-4 and earned the AFC’s top wild card spot. Instead, Carr, on the way to an MVP candidacy, broke his leg on Christmas Eve, and it’s been downhill since.

The Raiders went 6-10 last season, finishing the year with four consecutive defeats. Del Rio was fired, Gruden was hired and everything was happening (.gif). Instead, all the wrong things have been happening.

 

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Gruden traded away Mack and a second-round pick to the Chicago Bears for a pair of first-round choices. He also sent a third-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for Martavis Bryant, only to cut him before ever playing a down in the silver and black. Gruden also acquired AJ McCarron for a fifth-round selection, a puzzling move considering McCarron was a candidate to be cut. At the most, McCarron should have fetched a seventh-rounder.

The bizarre offseason also included becoming the oldest roster in some time, something Gruden actively sought with the signings of Reggie Nelson, Jordy Nelson, Keith Smith, Derek Carrier, Leon Hall and others.

The grand plan fell flat on Monday night. Carr threw short almost all game, and the one time he went for broke in the first half, he was picked off by safety John Johnson. In the second half, Carr and the offense were stuck in neutral, with the unit gaining a paltry 84 yards until the final, meaningless drive.

Now, the Oakland Raiders have to travel to take on the DenverBroncos on a short week, hoping to even their record at 1-1. A defeat would put Oakland in a dreaded 0-2 hole, something that has been a marker for teams almost assured to miss the playoffs.

Gruden has to provide some answers and soon, but that’s a tough sell when his entire tenure has left nothing but questions.

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