Raiders Face A Few Significant Challenges In Gruden’s Second Year

June is generally a time of optimism around the NFL and while it’s entertaining to watch Antonio Brown run circles around the Raiders’ secondary in the summer, the real tests won’t come for another three months.

There’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to the Raiders, but more than a few challenges, too. Oakland will travel more than any team in the league in 2019, they are again giving up a home game, and they have arguably the toughest schedule in the league. Again.

As for the coaches and players, let’s look a few details that will at least be something to pay attention to (or even worry about some) as the season gets closer.

The Offensive Line

Offensive line coach Tom Cable has presided over some of the most inconsistent pass-protecting offensive lines of the past decade. Has he been given questionable personnel all these years or is he just overrated at what he does?

Derek Carr isn’t a quarterback that will hide an inferior offensive line the way Russell Wilson did (for Cable) in Seattle. The good news, though, is that the Raiders offensive line is much more talented than anything Cable worked with in Seattle. And there’s also the Jon Gruden element that can maybe keep the Raiders offensive line moving in the right direction.

The Youth Movement

The Raiders will be starting rookies and young players all over the roster this year. There is always a learning curve with the young guys and while the young folk should eventually figure things out, will it come at the cost of another five-win season?

Among the rookie and second-year players that are in line to have key roles are Johnathan Abram, Josh Jacobs, Kolton Miller, Clelin Ferrell, Mo Hurst, and likely a few others depending on how the roster shakes out.

The Defense

Basically cut and paste this problem every year. Even when the Raiders had Khalil Mack they couldn’t stop anyone. Paul Guenther was brought in to turn around the defense, but that didn’t happen in his first year and the team didn’t do a whole lot to bolster Guenther’s pass-rushing personnel after a record-awful season for sacks in 2018.

The hope going forward is that Hurst can stay on course to becoming one of the league’s better interior lineman (very possible) and that Ferrell can make an impact right away, too. Arden Key apparently put on 15 pounds almost overnight so maybe he can turn the corner and become a pass-rushing presence this year, as well. At the very least, Key probably has the most potential of anyone along the Raiders defensive line, so don’t rule out something positive happening there.

The Young Offensive Tackles

This goes hand-in-hand with the Cable discussion above, but the Raiders need one of their second-year tackles to at least be average in year two. Whether it’s Kolton Miller or Brandon Parker, the Raiders have to get consistency out of a young tackle. Both dealt with injuries and inconsistent play as rookies and if Cable can get only one thing right in the next few months, the development of his young tackles should be enough to make a few people happy.

twitter: @raidersbeat