The Oakland Raiders offense bordered on terrible in 2017 as fans became unbelievably frustrated with the dink and dunk passing game under offensive coordinator Todd Downing. So naturally, when Oakland hired Jon Gruden, a man who is seen as an offensive genius by many, fans became excited about the prospects for Derek Carr and company.
But while the excitement is justified, fans should not expect the Raiders to suddenly return to the ways of Al Davis, constantly pushing the ball down field.
Under Gruden’s first stint with Oakland, Al Davis was often frustrated by the offense, which was was a west coast style of offense that picked their way down field, eating up clock and seldom picking up huge chunks of yards on single plays. Gruden’s offenses have typically relied heavily on a strong run game with a passing game that centered on timing based routes.
And despite the fact that Oakland has the tools to push the ball deep, you shouldn’t expect that to happen at a high rate in 2018. Will it happen more often under Gruden than it did under Downing? Of course, but that’s not very hard to do. Downing’s offense seemed to have a deadly allergy to deep passes. It’s not that Gruden won’t throw deep the way that Downing didn’t go deep, it’s that Gruden’s offense won’t be one that’s built around the deep pass. He will keep defenses honest by going deep occasionally but it won’t be the staple of his offense.
That being said, just because the return of Gruden doesn’t mean the return of the vertical offense doesn’t mean fans shouldn’t be excited about what we will see from the Raiders offense. In fact, Gruden’s offense might be better than a true vertical offense. Sure, it’s more fun to see big plays for big yards and quick scores. But under Gruden, you are more likely to see long drives that eat up time which means winning the time of possession, allowing your defense to rest and putting pressure on opposing offenses.