2019 Season: Year-End “Report Cards”

There was a time, seven or eight weeks back now, which actually feels like forever ago, where nearly everything was roses for Jon Gruden’s squad. The team trending in the right direction, on the right path; playoffs looked almost like a certainty. I saddled up and got in the ‘apology chair’ and found myself walking back various predictions and otherwise slanderous, harsh criticisms, given the team’s seemingly elevated play.

I don’t know why this particular time felt different, or why I believed, or why I felt the need to ask for forgiveness for my past misgivings, but in the end, and in typical Oakland Raiders fashion, everything fell apart. In the end, nothing mattered, the jokes ensued, and on paper and in reality, this is the same team with the same holes and the same issues that were always going to result in a sub-.500 product all along.

Now, things may not be all bad. It’s really mainly mostly bad, but not all bad. There may not be any “bright spots” either, but rather, some “bright players” and/or some “bright moments”, but we’ll touch on all that as we work through this breakdown. Let’s take it position-by-position, give a lay of the land as we make our way through the rubble and figure out what needs to be different in 2020. We’ll call this a precursor to some sort of “team needs” piece that will follow in the coming days or weeks (or whenever I have another pocket of free time). So come with me, kick back, and enjoy this seven win season in all it’s glory; soak in the overall feeling of mediocrity that has become far too familiar for well over a decade now.

Quarterback: The obvious talking point entering the offseason (again), just given the overall positional importance, current signal-caller’s pay versus level of play, time elapsed (ex. time to prove and justify said pay), and the fact that the team is getting ready to move into a shiny new, expensive stadium (seven win teams, or worse, don’t sell a ton of tickets — or something like that). I’ve seen all I need to see at this point, and I’d be prepared to move on and explore other options (see: “exhibit A”) as I work to improve the roster as a whole. What I think happens: Gruden brings Derek Carr along for one more ride during the inaugural season in Las Vegas. Things go well, Carr buys himself another year. Things go south, it’s curtains.

Grade: C-

ryan on Twitter

Josh Jacobs continues to matter. https://t.co/ymIX8BFlUL

Running back: The Raiders got one in Josh Jacobs, certainly. The only thing that will hold him back is Gruden’s play-calling (ending the season with 20 receptions on only 27 targets is legitimately unforgivable — and super-frustrating) and his health. Assuming the latter is at or close to 100%, and there’s some sort of conscious effort to lean more on Jacobs’ ability as a receiver, the sky may be the limit. Other big takeaway here: Look for Gruden and cohort Mike Mayock to invest in someone behind Jacobs via the draft or free agency. Feel like Gruden went back to those stones throughout the season, looking for answers, and turning up nothing.

Grade: A

ryan on Twitter

You love to see it. https://t.co/EsFVnluVOe

Fullback: Alec Ingold is good, really good, and his bond and friendship with fellow rookie Jacobs is very dope. Read this; Raiders appear set.

Grade: B

Hunter Renfrow on Twitter

Here we go again https://t.co/g5WBDHBNBZ

Wide receiver: Arguably the Raiders’ biggest position of need, which says something. What started with Antonio Brown leading the way, paired with big money free agent Tyrell Williams, ended with Hunter Renfrow being the only impact player of note (which really isn’t totally surprising; zero shade toward the future first-ballot player). Gruden should invest heavily in the position, just given how often he talked-up the importance of his wide receiver corp in the previous offseason. It wouldn’t surprise if two were selected in the early rounds, paired with a mid-level free agent signing (or better; think Robby Anderson on the high-end).

Grade: D

ryan on Twitter

Will always root for a player and person like Waller. Couldn’t be happier for him. https://t.co/Efs0VE8JNt

Tight end: Very few stories and headlines this NFL season were cooler than Darren Waller‘s comeback. The plus-athlete finally got his life in order off-field and is now reaping all the rewards given his impactful play on it. Paired with the newly paid “star”, rookie Foster Moreau flashed plenty when called on. The duo should be locked in for the foreseeable future.

Grade: B+

Offensive line: We’ll see how Tom Cable follows up his 2019 efforts, because I don’t want to say that I’m convinced just yet – given those Seattle years – but he was very impressive nearly the entire season. Credit where it’s due. Richie Incognito stayed out of the news and got paid. He can still play. Rodney Hudson can still play, and turns 31 in July. Much like Cable, I’m not quite sold on Kolton Miller yet, but he’s trending in the right direction and then some. Trent Brown was worth every penny. Moving along…

Grade: B

Defensive line: Hard to truly get excited about anyone in this unit that isn’t Maxx Crosby, who probably should’ve been selected fourth overall. Clelin Ferrell is a work in progress, if we’re being polite. Mo Hurst hasn’t lived up to his billing, and Dion Jordan is an interesting dart throw and developmental piece just given where he was coming out of school. Raiders need early investments and impact players across the defensive front once more.

Grade: C (saved the minus due to Crosby’s early emergence)

Linebacker: I’m not sure any of the Raiders’ current starters start for any other team. Another perennial weak link. Gruden and Mayock should run to the podium if Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons is sitting there at 12 overall.

Grade: D

Cornerback: Trayvon Mullen had his moments, but it’s quiet outside of his efforts. Darryl Worley is applauded for his versatility, but when he’s heavily relied on as a starter, there are clearly talent concerns. Another area that’s needed improvement for what feels like forever.

Grade: D

Safety: Unsure what the Raiders’ plans are as they relate to Karl Joseph (who I’d like to see back with the team), an early-round player that finally seemed to be catching on prior to getting banged up. Gruden and the gang will surely welcome back Jonathan Abram, the rookie that looked to be well on his way to being one of this team’s vocal leaders. He’s a big hitter, which unfortunately ended up costing him his debut season. Lamarcus Joyner has been a disappointment (or worse); the epitome of a free agency letdown.

Grade: C- (imagine this would’ve been a more favorably graded group with both Joseph and Abram healthy and on the field together but, here we are)

Things get a bit darker and more depressing as we worked down the list. The Raiders point differential more or less told the story this season. The defense largely couldn’t be counted on, given the obvious lack of talent, and the coaching staff couldn’t connect the dots with the piececs that they did have.

The Gruden and Mayock duo have cash to spend and draft picks to use with plenty of holes to fill. It’s “nice”, in that sense, entering the offseason feeling like you can’t miss just given the number of spots you need to either fill or upgrade. With the questions once more at quarterback and a new stadium on the horizon, it should go without saying that this offseason is beyond crucial; there is zero room for error.

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive


2 thoughts on “2019 Season: Year-End “Report Cards”

  1. I think the Raiders overall is a huge disappointment. U cannot judge based upon things as they transpired n must b judged upon the Grudens’ moves in offseason n what they meant 4 the season as a whole.

    I believe Gruden made many terrible moves n some quite frankly buried the season b4 it started placing team in horrible position they would not recover from.

    Gruden believed their magical draft selecting coupled with his delusional belief that because he offered players huge contracts with most up front n without negotiations at all that he had something special. Gruden is highest paid coach in history n as such he is expected 2 produce wins not tears.

    Gruden should not be allowed 2 continue coaching team as he has NEVER produced anything, sustained a product on the field worthy of his contract or continued coaching. The Raiders were heading toward possibly restablishing their fabled reputation only 2 have a retarded son who has some crush infatuation with midget coach ruin that.

    Bottom line bright spots r irrelevant, player here or there moot, n all that matters is Raiders once again (Grudens fault) suffered losing season. Gruden n Organization deserve a huge F. The fact that they have money 2 spend n draft picks means crap as that continues 2 b the case. I sure would have loved 2 see Maxx Crosby n Mack lined up together but Gruden blew that (something that very easily cud have occurred had Gruden been smart or the genius he n others proclaim him 2 be).

    F across the board n nothing 2 look forward 2 or consolation awards as Gruden failed n he is n never will b the guru he boasts himself 2 be.

  2. What this writer is not relating is that the Raiders run defense ranked 8th in the entire league. I think that D grade for the defensive line is kind of low. Also, Carr surpassed 4000 yards for the second year in a row and he had career highs in completion percentage too. I think we can do a little better than a C grade. If anything it was the loss of Foster Moreau along with Gruden’s playcalling that hindered our red zone offense. Definitely need to draft two linebackers this year.

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