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NFL Open Thread: SUPERGENIUS and Tragedy Edition

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There is an unintentionally hilarious couple of grafs in this piece about the Raiders:

Part of what Gruden has tried to convey in his many candid public comments is that the Raiders roster he inherited stinks. And he’s not wrong. The roster had two glaring flaws. The one everyone could see was the general lack of talent on defense. The one that only careful football observers saw was the offense’s deficiency at tackle. Entering the offseason, left tackle Donald Penn was injured, aging and had never been quite as good as outsiders believed. Opposite him, the Raiders for years had been searching for answers at right tackle. Jack Del Rio’s offensive staffs had shrewdly hidden their middling tackles in their scheme. They asked Carr to throw quick strikes from spread sets, where the ball is out before a tackle can get beat; or they kept six and sometimes seven bodies in to block if Carr dropped back deep. The approach worked great in 2016 but led to an uneven offense in ’17.

Knowing that in today’s NFL, a successful offense needs enough front line aptitude to intertwine its passing game and running game, Gruden addressed the offensive tackle situation aggressively, at the expense of the defense. He used his first-round pick on Kolton Miller and a third-rounder on Brandon Parker. Unfortunately, neither has played well. Miller, in fact, has gotten worse each week, getting humiliated in a variety of ways Sunday by dynamic Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark (2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles). Parker is only on the field because the injury bug that had gotten Penn late last year bit again, sending him to injured reserve with a groin injury after four games.

Hmm. lesseee. Just two short years ago, the Raiders’ o-line was the strongest unit on a 12-4 team. Now it’s terrible, with the veterans underachieving, the substantial amount of draft capital invested bearing no fruit, and the line getting worse and worse every week. It’s the strangest thing, and yet the piece offers no broader explanation, certainly not one that can be laid at the feet of Jon Gruden and the coaches he chose to work with. What a puzzle. Meanwhile, apropos of nothing, here’s a photo from the archives:

Seattle Seahawks assistant head coach Tom Cable rubs his hands during an NFL football practice, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

I predicted in comments last week that after a game in which 1)Russell Wilson had the cleanest pockets he’s had in years and 2)the Raiders made a very middling Seattle pass rush look like the 1991 Eagles that this would be the epochal week in which Seahawks offensive line passed Oakland’s in the PFF grades, but they didn’t quite do it. Admittedly, the Raiders’ pass rush is terrible; it’s like there’s a huge void in it. Can’t quite put my finger on it.

Meanwhile, you might remember John Elway from such recent managerial moves as “starting two straight years with someone who was mediocre in the Big 12 as his best starting QB option” and “firing the best defensive coordinator in the league in part because he was getting too much credit and in part because he HAD to have a head coach with one whole year of mediocre defensive coordinating for Adam Gase under his belt.” Anyway, his political commentary makes his recent football management look good.

Finally, this is a good deep dive into the Mariota Question. Tl; DR: bad luck with injuries, dubious coaching, and arm strength, while overrated, does matter to some degree, and as he becomes more compromised by injuries his inability to stretch the field becomes more problematic. I definitely think there’s still more there than he’s shown this year and I wouldn’t write him off but it’s becoming a little sad. Indeed, the entire 2015 QB class is looking like pretty much a cropper. As Tanier has observed elsewhere, Jameis is basically the younger and more misogynist Ryan Fitzpatrick, and by far the best QB in the rest of the field is…the aforementioned Mr. Siemian. Brutal.

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