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Jon Gruden’s return to the sideline
10-21-2019, 04:49 AM,
Post: #1
Jon Gruden’s return to the sideline
SANTA CLARA Foster Moreau Jersey 2019 , Calif. (AP) —  in Oakland and the prospect of a full season of Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco put optimism at a peak in the Bay Area heading into this NFL season.That feeling went far beyond the partisan backers of the Raiders and 49ers and extended to the league and television network bosses who decided to put the final Battle of the Bay before the Raiders leave town for Las Vegas in 2020 on Thursday night football.That battle has quickly turned into a Bay Area Bummer.The game between the Raiders (1-6) and the 49ers (1-7) this week could be the worst prime-time matchup in NFL history. There have been 784 prime-time games played in the NFL on Nov. 1 or later and the .133 combined winning percentage for Oakland and San Francisco is the worst of all of them, lowering the bar set Dec. 18, 2014, when Tennessee visited Jacksonville in a battle of 2-12 teams.“I wish the game had two 8-1 or 7-1 teams playing in it,” Gruden said. “Hopefully someday soon you’ll see a game like that, but this is still going to be fun for the fans and both teams.”Fun is not the word either team would use to describe this season, which has seen both the Raiders and 49ers blow three fourth-quarter leads, deal with several debilitating injuries, and pile up losses.While few considered either team to be Super Bowl caliber heading into the year, there was hope both could compete for the playoffs. Now the only competition is to determine which team is worse and has the inside track at the No. 1 overall draft pick.The Raiders’ season turned sour before it even started with the decision to trade holdout star pass rusher Khalil Mack to Chicago just one week before the start of the regular season for a package of draft picks. A defense that came into the season with enough question marks if Mack did play has generated no pressure and offered little resistance to opposing offenses.Oakland lost the first three games despite never trailing for a second of the first three quarters as quarterback Derek Carr struggled to adjust to Gruden’s offense and the older players Gruden signed in the offseason failed to deliver.An overtime win in Week 4 over Cleveland provided a brief respite but the Raiders have lost three straight since, getting outscored by 54 points during that span as the season is deteriorating quickly.Adding to the drama were reports questioning the toughness and leadership of Carr, public complaints from players about how they’re being used and the trade of No. 1 receiver Amari Cooper to Dallas for a first-round pick.Now a team that won 12 games just two years ago behind a young core of Carr, Cooper and Mack, has regressed back to where the franchise was in 2014 when the Raiders lost the first 10 games of Carr’s career.“I’ve been here before,” Carr said. “I know how to get out of it and it’s not by pointing fingers. It’s not by getting with your buddy and taking trash. It’s about getting together with your buddies and figuring things out, asking your teammates what can I do better, what should I do. That’s how we fix it. I believe that we have guys like that.”The Niners have lacked the drama of their neighbors but the results have been no better. San Francisco overcame a 1-10 start last year under first-year coach Kyle Shanahan to win five straight to end the season after Garoppolo was inserted into the lineup following a midseason trade from New England.Garoppolo was rewarded with a $137.5 million contract in the offseason and the 49ers were considered an up-and-coming team worthy of five prime-time matchups.The team was dealt a setback a week before the season when running back Jerick McKinnon, the team’s top free-agent acquisition in the offseason, blew out his knee in practice.Garoppolo then went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 3 and the Niners haven’t won since, taking a six-game losing streak into this week’s contest.“Yeah, we’ve been dealt a tough hand with some of the injuries we have and some of the things that we’ve been going through, but that doesn’t mean we should be 1-7,” Shanahan said. “Those games, we make a few different plays, and I’m talking one to three plays, still wouldn’t feel great about our record but I’d feel better than I do now.”San Francisco blew late leads in losses to Green Bay and Arizona and also had a chance at a comeback against the Chargers thwarted by a late interception by backup C.J. Beathard.Perhaps the most concerning part is the regression by several young players who were expected to be foundation pieces with defensive tackle Solomon Thomas, linebacker Reuben Foster, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and safety Adrian Colbert all struggling with their play and health.Now San Francisco is just trying to salvage any positives in the second half of the season.“We’re fighting. Unfortunately, we’re not getting the results,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “These have been some of the toughest losses I’ve seen.” OAKLAND Cheap Foster Moreau Jersey , Calif. — Tyreek Hill streaking downfield for big receptions from Patrick Mahomes figured to be a major part of Kansas City‘s passing offense this year. The Raiders were counting on technician Antonio Brown to get open on intermediate and deep balls to provide a needed spark in Oakland.When these two AFC West rivals meet Sunday in the second game of the season in Oakland, they both will need to figure out how to thrive without their most dangerous receiving options.“I’m big on next guy up,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We’ve done that over the years and so I expect the next guys to step up and play. Nobody is alike, but most of the guys at this level have strengths, and so you play to their strengths and then you keep coaching them and teaching them to make their things that maybe they’re not as strong better. But when you are putting your game plan together, you play to your strengths.”Hill was sidelined by a broken collarbone in a season-opening 40-26 win at Jacksonville. Sammy Watkins stepped up to fill that void last week with nine catches for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Second-round pick Mecole Hardman also figures to carry a heavier load this week.The Raiders did just fine in last week’s 24-16 win over Denver two days after releasing Brown following weeks of turmoil and missed practices. Tyrell Williams had six catches for 105 yards and a touchdown, showing he has the skills to be the No. 1 receiver the Raiders thought he could be when they made him their top target in free agency even before making the trade for Brown.“It’s definitely an opportunity I’ve been excited for,” Williams said. “My second year in the league when Keenan Allen had gotten hurt, I kind of was the No. 1 receiver that year (for the Chargers). I kind of just went unnoticed, I guess. Just getting this opportunity and being able to showcase this is exciting.”Tight end Darren Waller, whose career has been hampered by substance abuse issues, had seven catches for 70 yards and proved to be a matchup nightmare for Denver’s defense.WORKHORSE BACKOne of the big questions surrounding running back Josh Jacobs after the Raiders drafted him 24th overall was how he’d handle the load of a featured back in the NFL after being a part-time player at Alabama. Jacobs had more than 15 carries in a game just twice in college but raced past that mark in his NFL debut when he ran 23 times for 85 yards and two TDs and caught a 28-yard pass. He became the first player since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001 to gain at least 100 yards from scrimmage and score two rushing touchdowns in his debut.“It was just something to show durability,” he said. “That I can take 20 carries a game and still come out and be full.”OPPORTUNISTIC DSince Reid took over as coach in Kansas City in 2013, the Chiefs lead the NFL with 26 defensive touchdowns. No opponent has been victimized more than the Raiders, who have given up four of those scores, including two thrown by Derek Carr in 2015 and last season. Carr has thrown nine career interceptions against the Chiefs, his most against any opponent.BLIND SIDEThe Raiders saw big improvement from second-year left tackle Kolton Miller in the opener. After allowing an NFL-worst 14 sacks as a rookie, according to Sports Info Solutions, Miller completely shut down Denver’s Bradley Chubb last week. He gets another tough test this week against Frank Clark, who had 2 1/2 sacks against Oakland last year when he was with Seattle and faced Miller on a gimpy knee.“He’s just stronger, he’s more experienced, he’s healthy,” coach Jon Gruden said. “Those are three things that have taken his game to another level, and he’s got to continue to prove it every week.”END OF ERAThis game could be the final one played with infield dirt across the field. What once was a common sight in the era of multipurpose stadiums is now almost a relic as the Coliseum is the only remaining stadium used by NFL and baseball teams. The Raiders’ next scheduled game in Oakland isn’t until Nov. 3, after the end of the World Series, so the dirt will be gone for the final five home games of the season; they have a home game in London. The Raiders are set to move to Las Vegas next season, where dirt won’t be an issue.“It hurts. It hurts tackling and falling on that dirt,” Raiders safety Karl Joseph said. “But that’s part of who we are, the Raiders. I don’t think I’ll miss falling on that dirt too much.
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