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Broncos better be ready for a galvanized Raiders team

After the Jon Gruden drama, don’t expect the Raiders to fall apart this weekend, Raiders beat reporter Vinny Bonsignore tells Broncos Country Tonight.

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Las Vegas Review Journal’s Vinny Bonsignore joined Ryan Edwards and Benjamin Allbright Tuesday to talk Broncos-Raiders, and of course, the conversation had to start with the drama in Vegas this week with head coach Jon Gruden resigning.

Bonsignore started off noting that the content in those emails was definitely nothing anyone wants to be associated with, so there’s a lot of anger and disappointment among the team right now.

But when it comes to football, every player in that locker room is tied to Gruden.

“This is a hand-picked team by Jon Gruden. ...Their whole Raider being is a result of Jon Gruden. On a personal level it’s not good,” he said. “What is this going to become? The only thing it can become, a rallying cry. They need to salvage the season. This is still a good football team. Every goal, every objective is still in front of them. The message will be ‘we need to win in spite of it all.’”

What may help galvanize the Raiders is the close relationship Derek Carr has had with Greg Olsen, the offensive coordinator.

“I think there’s going to be more freedom for Derek Carr in terms of game planning, play calling at the line of scrimmage, adding to some of the freedom he’s worked toward and earned,” Bonsignore said.

He also noted that Gruden had a tendency to be stubborn about his run play calling, which sometimes cost the offense.

“There could be less reliance on the way Jon Gruden did things on running to pass and maybe working it backwards to do more passing to run,” Bonsignore said, adding that there have been a lot of cases where Gruden insisted on running on key third and fourth downs behind a bad offensive line - and coming up short. “I don’t think you’ll see that anymore with this new tandem of Olsen and Carr.”

Given the Broncos’ defensive struggles against the pass and run last week, a rejuvenated Derek Carr could be a nightmare for Denver’s defense.

But Bonsignore did highlight a weakness that the Broncos’ D should be able to exploit - the offensive line. In fact, the beat reporter believes that is the main culprit for the Raiders’ last two losses and their struggles even in wins.

“They’ve won in spite of a really bad offensive line,” Bonsignore said. “Until they get that in order and can impose their will on another team from an offensive line perspective, it’ll be tough to consistently win because you’ll have to put everything on Derek Carr’s shoulders.”

And the Broncos know all too well how quickly Carr can dice up the defense and move down the field. Pressure on Carr will be key.

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“They can’t run the ball and are having a hard time protecting Derek Carr,” Bonsignore noted, “and that’s the root of all their problems.”

Hall-of-Fame safety Steve Atwater also joined the Broncos Country Tonight crew to give some insights on how the Broncos’ offense and defense can bounce back and be ready for the hated AFC West rival.

His main advice for the offense is to push the run game, and Edwards noted that the Raiders’ defense is 25th in the league against the run, giving up 134 rushing yards per game on average.

“I’d like to just see us run the ball down their throats,” Atwater said. “But we need to get some vertical push on that offensive line. We’re getting lateral push right now, side to side. I don’t like it. As an offensive lineman, you need to be coming right down their throats, getting in their grill.”