Jon Gruden loves Baker Mayfield, compares Browns QB to Jeff Garcia

Jon Gruden loves Baker Mayfield, compares Browns QB to Jeff Garcia

ALAMEDA -- The city of Cleveland already loves Baker Mayfield. The rookie quarterback got its citizens free beer, after all.

The No. 1 overall draft pick came on for a concussed Tyrod Taylor late in the second quarter Thursday and blazed a comeback trail to secure the Browns’ first victory in 635 days. That’s when the Bud Light folks unlocked the victory fridges, and Mayfield’s performance became legend.

The victory was nice. Having a potentially dynamic quarterback show such moxie might have been the real reason to celebrate.

His second-half performance didn’t teach the Browns much. It confirmed a few high hopes for the University of Oklahoma product.

“We saw that he can really play. That he has great poise. That he loves to play football. That’s why we took him as the No. 1 overall draft pick,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said Wednesday in a conference call with Raiders beat writers. “That’s why the young man won the Heisman Trophy. He’s a talented player, but this is the NFL, and it can be humbling in particular for guys at his position. He knows he has a lot to learn, and there will be a growth spurt for him this week. It’ll be different this time, not coming off the bench.”

Mayfield will make his first NFL start Sunday against the Raiders at Oakland Coliseum, after sitting behind Taylor the first two-plus games. Despite leaving those games winless, Jackson doesn’t regret waiting to put Mayfield in the mix.

“I’m happy with the way things went,” Jackson said. “I think a young player needs some time to get used to his environment. Through the preseason and the first two-and-a-half games, Baker was a student. Some people don’t take it all in. Some people get frustrated by not playing. I think he took it as an opportunity to grow and learn so, when his time did come, that he would nail the opportunity. That’s what he was able to do.”

The Raiders surely will have some unscouted defensive looks in an attempt to confuse Mayfield. They’ll try to pressure him mentally and physical to force errant throws and bad decisions.

That might prove difficult, Raiders coach Jon Gruden said, considering Mayfield’s similarities to a signal-caller from Gruden’s past.

“He makes a lot of plays when nothing’s there. He makes plays when there is something there and the pocket’s clean,” Gruden said. “But, when nobody’s open and he has to move around, he has a lot of Jeff Garcia in him. He’ll dive for first downs. He’ll extend plays. He has a really good competitive spirit about him. I love the way he plays.

"I know he’ll be very excited for his first career start. We have to do a great job giving him some looks and put pressure on him with the pass rush.”

Raiders know changes are 'necessary evil' as awful stretch continues

Raiders know changes are 'necessary evil' as awful stretch continues

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have been blown out in three straight games. The latest rout came Sunday in a 42-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans. The first two happened away from the friendly confines of the Coliseum. This one happened here in the East Bay, the second-to-last time the Raiders will play in Oakland.

That means something to head coach Jon Gruden, who doesn’t want the fire to go out in Oakland without the Raiders making a final stand. The Raiders have one more chance to impress here next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Gruden vowed to turn over every rock he can to produce a better effort than what the home fans saw this past Sunday.

That’s especially true of a defense that allowed 35 points -- the other seven came on a fumble returned for a touchdown -- and an incredible 552 yards to the Ryan Tannehill-led Titans.

The coverage was poor. The pass rush was bad. Tackling was subpar. Those facts have flown below the radar, with all the ire aimed at quarterback Derek Carr and his decision to throw it away on 4th-and-goal from the 1.

Poor defense is a major problem, though yards allowed have been an issue most of the season. Opportunistic and clutch play got the defense by in victories but has been absent in defeat. Against the Titans, that unit may have reached a new low.

“It’s like getting punched in the stomach. It knocks some wind out of you,” Gruden said. “Anytime a team takes the ball the length of the field that many times, it’s hard to do in this league. We’ve done a pretty good this year offensively of sustaining some long 80-yard drives, but sometimes you got to win the game of field position, you’ve got to force a three-and-out. We weren’t able to do that yesterday from the jump and very, very concerned about it and we’re going to make some changes. We’re going to get it right.”

One problem: there aren’t many changes left to make. It’s hard to imagine any promoted practice-squad players making a quantifiable difference. There’s enough depth to make some changes at linebacker. We’ve seen snaps dwindle from certain defensive linemen. The secondary could get shaken up a little bit. All that, however, might be shuffling deck chairs on a sinking ship.

[RELATED: Gruden says Jacobs, Brown could possibly return to Raiders]

That won’t stop Gruden from trying. He refuses to wave a white flag on the season, even if better options aren’t crystal clear.

“[Recent play] is sickening. [Changes are] tough, but it’s a necessary evil,” Gruden said. “Right now, we’ve got to play better, and we’re going to play better, and there will be changes. There will be changes. What happened yesterday will not happen again. I can’t allow it to happen.”

Josh Jacobs, Trent Brown could possibly return to Raiders this season

Josh Jacobs, Trent Brown could possibly return to Raiders this season

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders aren’t playing for the playoffs anymore. Postseason dreams were essentially dashed by Sunday’s 42-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

The Raiders have a snowball’s chance in a well-stoked campfire of making the postseason, but that doesn’t mean coach Jon Gruden’s going to shut everything down and go into evaluation mode. That won’t be the case after three blowout loss, especially with the last game in Oakland coming up Sunday against Jacksonville.

That’s why he won’t rule out a possible return for injured stars Josh Jacobs (fractured shoulder) and Trent Brown (pectoral strain). Shutting them down would eliminate the prospect of injury aggravation, but Gruden kept the possibility of a return starting against the Jaguars.

“We’re going to try to win this game. Absolutely,” Gruden said. “We’re never going to put a guy out there that can’t play, but we’re going into the last game in the history of the Oakland Raiders and it’s an emotional time. We’re going to try to win the game. We’re not eliminated from the playoffs and we’re going to try to win every single time we strap it on.”

Jacobs and Brown are the team’s best offensive players regardless of position -- Rodney Hudson might be in that group as well -- and certainly increase the odds of winning an emotional game that will close out the Raiders’ playing days at Oakland Coliseum. They relocate to Las Vegas before the 2020 season.

Jacobs made an impassioned plea to play the Titans. He even took a painkilling injection to prepare for play, but the Raiders ruled him out nonetheless.

“He sat in my coach’s office. He wanted to play, and he got really emotional about not playing,” Gruden said. “He doesn’t want to let his teammates down. I don’t know where he’s going to be this week, but if he’s ready to go and he’s cleared to play, he’ll play. He’s a great back and a great centerpiece for our team moving forward.”

Brown has been playing through one injury or another most of the year, but this latest ailment prevented him from going against the Titans. Repairing a torn pectoral muscle can involve extensive rehab he and the Raiders would certainly like to avoid.

[RELATED: Carr, Raiders know 'nobody cares' about cause of fatal skid]

Brandon Parker, one of last year’s third-round draft picks, stepped in for Brown and was okay save an ill-timed holding call. He wasn’t a dead weight up front, which might help the team continue if Brown remains unavailable.

“He did good,” Gruden said. “I was really pleased with the line. I mean our offensive line played a good game yesterday. Parker had a holding call, a costly one, on third down that nullified a potential first down, but other than that he played good football.”