The Autumn Winds
Oakland Blowing Past Expectations
By brandon walker | November 23, 2019
The Oakland Raiders are one of the biggest surprises thus far in the 2019 season. The Raiders are 6-4 and holding a wild card bid and are one game back of the division lead. The Raiders are doing this behind a strong rookie class and the reemergence of quarterback Derek Carr.
On offense the Raiders are led by the sure-fire Offensive Rookie of the Year in running back Josh Jacobs, as well as an emerging pass catchers Hunter Renfro and Roster Moreau. On defense, rookie defensive end Max Crosby who recorded four sacks last Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals and cornerback Trayvon Mullen who’s solid play led the Raiders to trade first round pick Gereon Conley to the Houston Texans before the trade deadline last month. The Raiders rookie class leads the NFL in rushing yards, receptions, receiving yards and sacks.
As for Carr, he has bounced back from two shaky seasons that saw his confidence and leadership questioned to have a bounce back season. Carr is completing 72.3 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. His numbers may not be as gaudy as other quarterbacks around the league but he has reaffirmed that he can be the man when the Raiders move to Las Vegas in 2020.
The two men that should be applauded the most for this sudden turnaround are head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock. Many pundits questioned the hire of Mayock last January due to him being just a “media guy” that talks about college players and did not have any front office experience. Mayock not only earned the respect of the pundits on how his draft pick are developed but on how he handled the Antonio Brown saga. Not many veteran front office executives would have the guts to stand up to “Mr. Big Chest” and hold him accountable for his actions, but Mayock stood his ground and not let his tantalizing talent get in the way for what is best for the organization.
As for Gruden, when he left the Monday Night Football Booth to return to coaching last season many questioned his ability to develop young players and rebuild a team. Many questioned the trades of Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. Many questioned the 10 year, $100 million dollar deal that the Raiders signed him too. Well Gruden answered the question not only with this rookie class but with last year’s class as well. 2018 first round draft pick Kolton Miller looked like a human traffic cone as a rookie suddenly looks like one of the best young tackles in the NFL. Miller and free agent acquisition Trent Brown has formed a rock solid tandem at the tackle position that makes up arguably the best offensive line in the League.
The Raiders will have to play all three divisional rivals on the road during the last five weeks of the season. They will travel to Kansas City in Week 13, Los Angeles in Week 16, and Denver in Week 17. If they can come out of that stretch with at least two victories than we may see January football in the black hole one more time.
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