Raiders

Raiders claim Jon Gruden, Buccaneers knew their plays in Super Bowl XXXVII

Raiders claim Jon Gruden, Buccaneers knew their plays in Super Bowl XXXVII

Editor’s note: Sports Uncovered, the newest podcast from NBC Sports, shines a fresh light on some of the most unforgettable moments in sports. The fifth episode tells the story of "The Mysterious Disappearance that Changed a Super Bowl," chronicling Barret Robbins' absence from Super Bowl XXXVII.

The Raiders arrived at Super Bowl XXXVII prepared to reclaim their rightful place atop the NFL. Only their old coach Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccanneers stood in their way.

The Silver and Black were confident in a victory. They were armed with the No. 1 offense in the NFL, and weren't scared of the Bucs. By now you're aware of the story. Pro Bowl center Barret Robbins went missing the night before the game and the Raiders were trounced 48-21.

After the thrashing, the excuses started flowing from the Raiders. The fingers were pointed at Robbins for going missing and at coach Bill Callahan for his drastic last-minute game plan alteration. But while Robbins' disappearance -- which is the focus of NBC Sports' latest episode of their Sports Uncovered podcast series -- had a big impact, many Raiders believe the Gruden effect played a bigger role, believing the Bucs knew what plays they were running.

"Every level of the defense knew what we were doing," former right tackle Lincoln Kennedy said. "They knew what to look for when we checked versus a blitz. They knew where we were going with the ball. They knew Rich's rotation."

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

"You have never played a football game where 95 percent of the plays, the other team, they can guess what plays you are running based on scheme," Mo Collins recalled in 2011. "But these guys, we was breaking the huddle, and they was calling out our formation, and bossing over to our formations." (Mo Collins died in 2014. He was 38.)

If the Bucs did know the Raiders' plays, the blame should fall on Callahan for not switching up the checks from when Gruden coached the Raiders the year prior.

"I played with some of them after the fact," former defensive tackle Sam Adams said. " And they're like, 'We cannot believe you're using the same checks, and the same terminology.' We -- I mean Gruden ran practice saying, 'He's using the same stuff that he put in.' Come on. How can that be?"

To members of the Bucs, though, all this talk are just excuses for the beating they laid on the Raiders.

"It's the same offense that Jon Gruden ran when he was there," former Bucs defensive tackle Booger McFarland said. So, we practiced against the same offense for a year. So, if you're not going to change any of the same audibles that Gruden uses in Tampa, that's on you."

[RELATED: Al Davis never got over Super Bowl loss to Bucs]

The Raiders walked into Qualcomm Stadium without their Pro Bowl center, and with a game plan that was barely 48 hours old. They left with their tail between their legs.

Looking back on the loss, none of that mattered. The Raiders were instilled as four-point favorites, but that line was off.

That was always Gruden and the Bucs' Super Bowl to win.

Raiders rookie Henry Ruggs' insane one-handed catch shows potential

Raiders rookie Henry Ruggs' insane one-handed catch shows potential

It's no secret how fast Raiders rookie receiver Henry Ruggs is. With his 4.27 40-yard dash speed, he's in the end zone in the blink of an eye.

The Raiders were enamored with Ruggs' speed, and rightfully so. That certainly played a big role in the Silver and Black selecting the former Alabama receiver with the No. 11 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. But it wasn't the only reason. 

Ruggs had some of the best hands in the draft, and he proved that with an insane one-handed grab for a touchdown early on in Raiders training camp. 

It's easy to see why the Raiders fell in love with Ruggs before the draft. He tallied 86 receptions for 1,487 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns his final two years for the Crimson Tide. Ruggs should have a big role in the offense, and the hope is he connects right away with quarterback Derek Carr. 

So far, so good. 

Ruggs should be used all over the field as a rookie, as the Raiders find ways to get the ball in his hands. And it appears he will start off in the slot. 

[RELATED: Raiders rookie Edwards compared to two Pro Bowl wideouts]

“We’ll start with Ruggs III in the slot and do some things with Ruggs III," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said to reporters last week, via Raiders Wire. "But those guys (Ruggs and Bryan Edwards) are very multiple in what they can do and that’s the goal is to be able to move all of them around to different spots; the one, two or three position at the wide receiver.”

Whether it be on the inside or outside, Ruggs will play a big part in the Raiders' offense right away. His ridiculous one-handed grab was just another preview of what's to come.

Raiders could turn to rookie Javin White to fill need to linebacker

javinwhiteunlvgetty.jpg
Getty Images

Raiders could turn to rookie Javin White to fill need to linebacker

With every word that an NFL coach utters these days, it would be naive not to think there is a calculation factor to almost everything they say, especially when offering unsolicited insight into a specific player.

So it was worth noting that Raiders head coach Jon Gruden singled out UNLV rookie Javin White on Thursday when assessing the Raiders’ linebacker situation.

The rebuilt unit added two prominent veterans in free agency last March, and both Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski bring experience, proven production and much-needed pass coverage ability as three-down players.

But there is an open position alongside them at weakside linebacker, and with no clear-cut favorite to claim the job, Gruden and his defensive staff will spend the next three weeks assessing a handful of candidates before declaring a winner.

Read more at the Las Vegas Review-Journal