Derek Carr Along With The Rams Spoil Jon Gruden's Impressive Coaching Debut

Maybe, just maybe, Jon Gruden hasn't lost his mind. Instead, a mad genius seemed to emerge during his first game as a head coach since the 2008 campaign, only to be ruined by the misguided play of quarterback Derek Carr. 

The Oakland Raiders are far from perfect. Monday's 33-13 loss to the Los Angeles Rams at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum said as much. But Gruden's squad proved to be far more competitive than expected and didn't look like a complete disaster. 

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon GrudenBen Margot/Associated Press

During the first half, Oakland looked like a completely different team from the squad that finished 5-11 a year ago. 

Gruden's touch at play-calling didn't seem to fade, either. The coach allowed his extremely talented offensive line to take over by implementing a physical, downhill rushing attack which further accentuated Marshawn Lynch and Beast Mode took over to score the game's initial touchdown with a Juggernaut-like determination: 


NFL
@NFL

HOW?!

BEASTMODE carries the WHOLE defense into the end zone!

The Raiders offensive line went toe-to-toe with the Rams defensive front and didn't blink despite staring at Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers. Los Angeles managed one sack, and Donald didn't even register a quarterback hit. 

The gameplan worked for the first 30 minutes. Gruden utilized tempo, spread looks and misdirection to complement his traditional West Coast passing attack. Getting the ball into playmaker's hands served as the primary goal. 

In one area, the Raiders became wildly successful. Tight end Jared Cook—one of 15 players on the roster at least 30 years old—set or tied career-highs with nine receptions for 180 yards. Cook proved to be too much for the Rams' safeties and linebackers to handle. 

Also, the early portions of the game saw Carr get the ball out of his hand quickly and decisively. 

Oakland led 13-10 going into the third quarter and everything started to crumble. The deficiencies still found in the Raiders roster began to show. 
 

Bruce Irvin and Co. generated one sack and another quarterback hit. That's it. Jared Goff had all night to throw, and the only sack came from the quarterback drifting backward into Irvin after holding the ball too long. The rookie triumvirate of Maurice Hurst, P.J. Hall and Arden Key made little to no impact. The lack of a pass-rush will likely haunt the Raiders throughout the season. 

Even so, Carr's disappointing performance is the most disheartening aspect of the Raiders' loss. Raiders owner Mark Davis made Carr a $125 million quarterback this offseason and his play didn't come close to reaching his worth. 

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek CarrThearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Carr managed 303 passing yards yet barely acknowledged his weapons at wide receiver. Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson and Seth Roberts combined to make five catches for 43 yards. 

"We called their numbers," Gruden said after the game, per the San Jose Mercury NewsMatt Schneidman. "We tried."

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"We are a better team than what was put out there on the field," tight end Jared Cook said. "This one game does not define us."

The Raiders took the opening kick and drove 75 yards for a touchdown on a 10-yard run by Lynch. The Rams had Lynch stood up at the 3, but he powered his way into the end zone with help from a push by his offensive linemen.

Oakland managed just six points the rest of the way against a defense fortified by the offseason additions of former All-Pros Peters, Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh.

Carr threw an interception in the end zone to John Johnson in the second quarter, another in the fourth when he tried to pull back a pass at the last minute only to have the ball slip out and float right to linebacker Cory Littleton, and then the third on a miscommunication with Cook.

"He did some good things tonight and obviously there are some critical errors he has to eliminate," Gruden said. "He knows that. We all know that."

Here are some other takeaways from the game:

FIND A RHYTHM

The Rams started slowly after resting their entire starting offense throughout the preseason, as well as several key defensive players. But things turned in the second half, starting with quarterback Jared Goff leading the team to a tying field goal on the opening drive. Then they took the lead for good on a 58-yard, four-play drive that featured two passes downfield to another offseason addition, Brandin Cooks, and an 8-yard TD to Cooper Kupp.

"Any first game of the year, you're dealing with some things," Goff said. "You look at other teams around the league and it's no different for us."

COOK'S NIGHT

Cook was one of the only Raiders to have a big night. He caught nine passes for 180 yards , breaking Todd Christensen's franchise record for receiving yards by a tight end. Christensen had 173 vs. the Chargers on Nov. 20, 1986.

OH, SNAP

The Raiders got thrown for a loop early when long snapper Andrew DePaola injured his knee on a punt in the first quarter and didn't return. Tight end Lee Smith filled in and provided accurate snaps on two field goals. He had a high snap on a punt, but Johnny Townsend leaped and brought it down with no issues. It was a far cry from the 2012 season opener when Jon Condo got hurt for Oakland and Travis Goethel came in and botched three snaps in a loss to the Chargers.

"It was stressful, I can't even lie to you guys," Smith said. "I'm just glad they all got back there."

FEED THE BEAST

Rams RB Todd Gurley had just five touches in the first half. He carried four times for 19 yards and took a short flip from Goff 19 yards for a score on his only reception. Gurley had 18 touches in the second half, carrying 16 times for 89 yards and catching two passes for 20 yards.

"You just try to get in that rhythm, get the ball, get consecutive run plays in a row," he said. "We were able to do that in the second half."

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