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GIF Horse - Rumble with the Raiders

Rookies key to both teams as the Broncos host the Raiders

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders
Let there be no doubt, Chucky is the face of the Raiders.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

So a quick note: this has been one of the more interesting tape weeks since I started doing anything video related with football. In case you didn’t know, I once worked as a student video coordinator during my senior year in college. After a game it was required that every team posted their tape to a universal system every other team has access to within 24 hours so that all teams had it for the following week. There was a great deal of gamesmanship involved and I spent a couple Sundays re-cutting tape in order to have it ready for our head coach to dissect.

I’m not sure if the NFL uses a universal system format; but if they do and Gamepass uses it for their footage? Denver has seriously thrown off the gloves for this game with Jon Gruden. All-22 came out about 11 AM Tuesday and as I went to break it down I found that the plays are completely out of order. Sometimes a cutup goes from a punt to a field goal in the same cut. Other times there is a play from the first quarter mixed together with a kickoff or play from the fourth. In short, it would be near impossible for a coach to logically break it down.

It could be a huge mistake by Gamepass as well, but left me pondering.

With that in mind, on to GIF Horse.

Meeting at a crossroads

Anyone who has paid attention this offseason can tell you how Gruden has made his mark on the Raiders, but in case you missed this tidbit from the Monday Night game: Oakland brought in 29 new players for this years team, which is incredible even if you accept that coaches will bring in their own guys. What’s more noticeable is their age. There were jokes throughout the summer, but the reality is that Gruden’s gang is the oldest roster in the league since 2010. Combine that with the fact that Khalil Mack was traded for first rounder picks? They’re on the precipice of a full rebuild.

Meanwhile, Case Keenum came to town and the Broncos are looking to get back to winning from now on. With what looks like a standout rookie class, that seems likely.

Rookies are the story of the Lindsay touchdown for a number of reasons, but first of all a big kudos to Bill Musgrave for a great play design.

It took all 3 routes for Lindsay to score here, a sign that the new offensive coordinator knows a thing or two about a thing or two.

The route by Jeff Heuerman creates a natural pick on Seahawks rookie Shaquem Griffin and prevents him from sliding over to his flat responsibility. Meanwhile the route by DaeSean Hamilton takes the top off the defense and creates space underneath.

Griffin’s “welcome to the NFL” moment.

The play would merely be a big gain and not a touchdown if not for Hamilton’s downfield blocking. Plays like this do nothing for a guys stat sheet, but all throughout camp the rookie has earned rave reviews for his effort on the little things. It shows here.

Plays like this leave you with a real Rod Smith impression. Hamilton’s a real gamer.

The result of course is a 29-yard touchdown pass. If that was all Lindsay contributed it’d be a great NFL debut for the undrafted rookie, but down after down he also proved himself as a complete back (which does nothing to mention his work on special teams).

Lindsay’s lateral mobility is special.

Meanwhile the Raiders’ defensive speed was tested time and again by jet sweeps and outside zone runs. The results were what you’d expect from a team that just traded their best defensive player.

What makes outside zone so hard to defend is that the pursuing the ball carrier will naturally open up cutback lanes.

Both Freeman and Lindsay have shown the kind of vision to find cutback lanes when they catch the Raiders overextending. One or both should again light up the stat sheet.

Rookie Key to the Raiders hopes

Going into the home opener there was a lot of hope placed on rookie Arden Key after he fell to Oakland in the 3rd round. The Rams game exposed that relying on the undersized Key as a 3-down player may be a bad idea. He did get a pressure and had a few promising plays but struggled to hold the edge time and again.

Key was stoned by Cooper Kupp, but this was hardly the only time he failed to contain.

To be fair, a toss play is hard for most players but far too often Key failed to force runs back inside. At times he was out of position because he was trying to rush the passer. Combine that with his 240ish lb frame and the fact that he played a majority of the snaps while Bruce Irvin didn’t is a bit perplexing.

Don’t be surprised if Irvin sees more playing time in Denver as the Raiders desperately need to create more pass rush and the veteran was the only player to generate a sack for Oakland. It also shouldn’t come as a shock if defensive coordinator Paul Guenther mixes in more blitz looks to try and force Keenum into poor decisions.

It’s hard to ignore how little pressure Keenum faced on the play above. Seattle’s pass rush was all but nonexistent for long stretches of the game. While the Broncos offensive line had a lot to do with it, the revamped Seahawks’ front four and simple scheme hurt them as well. Guenther’s defense clearly lacks talent at all levels, but I doubt his game plan will be vanilla.

DEFENSE: Crash the Carr before he gets Cooking.

Just yesterday I shared a post about Broncos rookie Bradley Chubb. In it I mentioned that Joe Woods shouldn’t leave Chubb on an island but shared video from Will Dissly’s 15-yard touchdown pass. It created a bit of a stir because I did a poor job of explaining that the rookie wasn’t left in solo coverage there. He was later in the game though.

The big gain isn’t necessarily on Chubb, but Seattle clearly went after him here.

Missed tackles would have shortened that gain up a ton, but Brian Schottenheimer ran vertical routes on the outside in order to leave free up Dissly on a crossing route here. It won’t take Gruden and the Raiders long to test the Broncos with Cook. After all he had 12 targets in the Rams game.

If the Raiders find ways to isolate Cook on Chubb it will be like stealing.

Cook’s career has been a mixed bag of sorts with injuries derailing him time and again, but he’s the kind of athletic mismatch Gruden is looking to exploit. Don’t forget the Broncos have been one of the worst teams in football at stopping tight ends for years now. Minus Su’a Cravens who was brought in to address this, they’ll need to get creative to slow Cook down.

A play action post could spell disaster if the Broncos safeties bite on the run fake again.

The good news here? The Raiders offensive line is a mess.

The move left more than a few people in tears.

Some may remember Miller as the kind of athletic tackle front offices gamble. He fits the trope as a project Gruden believes he can mold. The best option for Miller would have been time to develop as the former Bruin entered the league with a clear mechanical hole in his game.

He did nothing in the Rams game to alleviate the concerns about his game.

Welcome to the NFL Kolton Miller.

The fact that L.A. gave Miller so much trouble shouldn’t be a surprise, even if it does concern the Raiders faithful. Not only did Miller get pushed around in the play above, but he was called for holding, which negated a 16-yard reception by Amari Cooper. Plays like the one above happened frequently, whether it was Dominique Easley...

Miller is the kind of player that desperately needed time to develop before live action, so of course Gruden throws him to the wolves.

...or Samson Ebukam, the second year Eastern Washington alumni who had 2 sacks last year.

Gruden weakened his entire line to give Miller playing time.

What’s more, switching Penn to the right side means forfeiting the kind of muscle memory 170 starts built up. Moving from one side of the line to the other means a players leg kick, stance and weight distribution all change drastically. One has to look no further than Broncos tackle Jared Veldheer to appreciate the struggles he experienced when he first made the swap last season.

Jared Veldheer trying to be ‘best he can be’ during switch to RT - Arizona Cardinals Blog- ESPN

“The spacial awareness, where you are, what position your feet are in, all that kind of the stuff on the right side, I’m thinking about it on every play instead of just going up there and it’s natural,” Veldheer said. “That’ll just take time, but I know it’s a process.”

Unfortunately for Derek Carr and the Raiders offense, Von Miller and the Orange Rush aren’t about to give them time. Unless Keenum chucks gifts to Guenther’s gang or Cook gets hot, it’s hard to see how the Raiders will fare any better against the Broncos than they did in their opener.