The Smell Of Football Is In The Air
by: Philip Robinson III
With the release of the NFL schedule on May 12, the smell of football is in the air. For the Las Vegas Raiders free agency has come and gone, the draft selections have been made, and the rookies have participated in an organized team activity.
Training camp is still a couple months away, but coach Jon Gruden, is optimistic about the direction of his 2021 Raiders. Gruden has been steadily plugging away at re-building the Las Vegas Raiders roster and image. As of today May 17, 2021 Raiders have signed seventh-round pick center Jimmy Morrissey, fourth-round pick safety Tyree Gillespie, and fifth-round pick cornerback Nate Hobbs.
After hot starts in each of the last two seasons, the team has flamed out during the easiest portion of the schedule and missed the playoffs. However, Gruden has not lost faith in what he’s doing. In an interview with Eric Allen on the Raiders Report, Gruden had this to say.
“Our system has worked over the years so we sell our system, we sell ourselves and we sell our young football team,” Gruden details. “If you can add the right football character and experience to a mix of young guys in silver and black good things can happen. I think that’s what we’re in the process of doing. It all starts at quarterback. We’ve put some pretty good players around Derek Carr and I think it shows.”
There are many young players on this team, many of whom are expected to take the next step towards becoming a key cog in the Raiders machine. On paper the Raiders continue to check off every item needed in order to become a dominant football team: big strong powerful offensive line, a quick thinker at the quarterback position and an outstanding running game. Being balanced is essential to the Raiders plan of attack, Gruden’s belief being “if we are balanced, we are harder to defend.”
Gruden was very honest in his assessment of the defense. Speaking to the need to generate pressure and a pass rush.
“The quarterback can’t stand back there and make a pizza. He can’t stand back survey the field and then make a throw,” said Gruden. He is correct. No secondary can cover forever, especially the young inexperienced and oft-injured Raiders secondary.
“We got a young secondary, a very young secondary … Hayward is here to show us what a pro looks like,” Gruden explained. “We’re hoping Damon Arnette and Trayvon Mullen can stay healthy and showcase what they can really do. Abram has got to stay healthy; you can’t be a great player when you’re in the tub. He’s a great talent and he’s had a great offseason. Trevon Moehrig and Gillespie are going to bring a lot of speed.”
Competition is going to push each player on the roster to being the best forms of themselves they can be. We can expect that offseason workouts and training camp will have a much different feel to it. With all of the turnover and additions made, nobody’s job is safe. Players are going to have to earn their positions and will do so under the watchful eyes of defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, and his assistant Ron Milus.
Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty