Are Changes Coming for Jon Gruden’s Offense?

Very few beat writers know Jon Gruden like Jerry McDonald. McDonald was around for Gruden’s first tenure in Oakland and when it comes to getting a clearer perspective on Gruden’s thinking, McDonald is always a good place to start.

So with the conversation focused heavily on Gruden and Derek Carr this week, it made sense to check in with Jerry – especially since he dedicated a full column in the Mercury News to answering questions about the Gruden-Carr dynamic.

Will Gruden ever adjust his philosophy and use more spread offense concepts with Carr? This is a question many have been asking this week. Will the power formations ever find their way out of Gruden’s offense? Jerry doesn’t think so.

All from his Friday column:

“I don’t see Gruden ever being a spread-it-out, all shotgun guy. He’s rooted in tough, hard-nosed football. Offensive balance. Having at least some of the offense with snaps under center. Carr’s best year — and only legitimately exceptional one — was in 2016. They had a suspect defense, but at least it got him the ball. The Raiders had a plus-16 in turnover margin. I suggest if the Raiders did that again, you’d see similar success. Gruden’s goal is to have a methodical, measured offense that takes a shot every quarter or so but controls the action through first downs and physicality. I don’t see that ever changing.

Are the check downs and short throws coming from Gruden or Carr? Of course every play has a different story, but for the most part, McDonald believes Gruden is coaching Derek to make the safest throw:

“… Believe me, [Derek is] being coached to take the safer route and live for another series rather than force something past the stake. Good strategy normally. Not so good when you’re in a desperate situation.”

Are we down to just a few games before Gruden will lose patience with the offense and think about trying a new signal caller? McDonald believes that isn’t happening:

Like it or not, it’s going to be the whole season for Derek Carr. And it should be. Because the future of the franchise at quarterback is either Carr or someone who is not currently on the roster.”

Certainly, Jerry doesn’t speak for Gruden, but he’s usually in lockstep with Gruden’s thinking. What might be nice, though, is to see a few more spread concepts in Gruden’s gameplan this week. If there is no turning back from Gruden’s personnel preferences, it might be nice to see a few less plays designed for short gains.

It’s 2019. Defenses are always willing to give up short completions.

But it isn’t just the deep ball missing from Gruden’s offense right now. The lack of intermediate throws are just as concerning. For all the talk about going deep, it’s the second level of the defense that Carr has always attacked best. Remember all the seam routes Carr threw in 2016? How about the back shoulder throws to Michael Crabtree? Do those passes exist in Gruden’s offense?

For a little inspiration, maybe Gruden and company should hear these words from Al Davis before taking the field on Sunday…

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1 thought on “Are Changes Coming for Jon Gruden’s Offense?

  1. For god’s sake I hope so. This short passing game will only work if they are afraid of deep or at least intermediate routes.

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