Raiders' Jon Gruden details how he helped Rams' Sean McVay get NFL start

Raiders' Jon Gruden details how he helped Rams' Sean McVay get NFL start

Sean McVay is the hottest name in NFL coaching.

But his road to the top of the coaching ranks might have been a little longer if not for Jon Gruden.

When the Raiders head coach was leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the mid-2000s, a young McVay desperately wanted a gig in the NFL, anything to get his foot in the door.

Gruden hired McVay as the assistant wide receivers coach, or a "secretary" as Gruden calls it.

McVay's Rams and Gruden's Raiders went through joint practices last week, with the "Hard Knocks" cameras there to document the reunion. Gruden detailed how he gave McVay his NFL start for the cameras, comparing it to his own start in the league.

Not sure "piss boy" has the same ring as "Chuckie" does, so it's a good thing Gruden moved up the ranks.

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Gruden was fired by the Bucs after that 2008 season, and McVay became the wide receivers coach for the Florida Tuskers of the UFL. McVay joined the Washington Redskins in 2010 and worked his way up, becoming offensive coordinator in 2014 before the Rams hired him as their head coach in 2017.

Now the NFL's offensive wunderkind, McVay will always be a "secretary" to his old boss.

Raiders injury report: Lamarcus Joyner ruled out vs. Bengals in Week 11

Raiders injury report: Lamarcus Joyner ruled out vs. Bengals in Week 11

ALAMEDA – Lamarcus Joyner can play several positions, but has focused solely on the Raiders' slot cornerback spot. He has been the only guy to occupy it in the nickel package. He’s integral to the Raiders defense when more than two receivers enter the game, and has remained on the field even in some base package situations considering his solid run play.

But they’ll have to carry on without him, at least in the short term, due to a hamstring injury suffered in last week’s win over the LA Chargers. Joyner stood no chance of playing this week.

He didn’t practice at all and was formally ruled out of Sunday’s game against Cincinnati on the team’s official injury report.

That leaves a void in the defense filled by veteran Nevin Lawson, who has 67 games and 54 starts to his credit and some experience in the slot. Daryl Worley will get pulled inside if that option doesn’t play out well.

The Raiders have some concern at offensive tackle with starter Trent Brown (knee) questionable and his backup David Sharpe (calf) out of this game. That means Brandon Parker will be active for the first time in a while. The 2018 third-round pick has been the fourth tackle lately, largely inactive on game day due to inconsistent pass protection especially.

The Raiders are 10.5-point favorites against the winless Bengals, a talent-deficient team with some injury troubles. Receiver A.J. Green remains out with an ankle injury. Former starting cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick also is unavailable – he wasn’t going to play Sunday but has now been placed on injured reserve -- and starting interior defensive lineman Geno Atkins is questionable with ankle and knee issues that developed during the practice week. Nevertheless, the Bengals expect him to be out there.

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Raiders coach Jon Gruden said he expects newcomers D.J. Swearinger and Dion Jordan to play Sunday. Jordan should play defensive end and could push inside at points during the game. The Raiders have to see if he's in game shape, so it's unknown how much Jordan will be on the field in his first Raiders appearance and his first game back from a 10-game suspension for Adderall. 


CB Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring)
OT David Sharpe (calf)

OT Trent Brown (knee)
WR Dwayne Harris (foot)

WR A.J. Green (ankle)
CB Cre Kirkpatrick (knee)
TE Drew Sample (ankle)
G Alex Redmond (knee/ankle)

OT Bobby Hart (shoulder)
DT Geno Atkins (ankle/knee)

Raiders QB Derek Carr's campaign beginning to look a lot like 2016


Raiders QB Derek Carr's campaign beginning to look a lot like 2016

ALAMEDA – Derek Carr hasn’t thrown an interception in nearly a month. The Raiders quarterback hasn’t lost a fumble in that same span, since the ball slipped from his grasp and through the end zone that fateful day in Green Bay.

That’s a run of three-plus games heading into Sunday’s showdown with the winless Cincinnati Bengals when the Raiders hope to continue their rise up the AFC standings.

That ascent has coincided with some efficient, steady, clutch quarterback play. Carr has completed 64 percent of his passes for 795 yards, six touchdowns, no picks and a whopping 8.6 yards per pass attempt over that span.

This run includes a close loss to the Texans that wasn’t Carr’s fault, and victories over the Lions and the Chargers where he orchestrated late game-winning touchdown drives.

He is escaping pressure with his feet, avoiding negative plays and throwing accurate short and intermediate passes that have turned into chunk yards.

“I think it’s comfort within the system and I know we’ve said that,” Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “It still is only his second year in the system and I think coach [Jon] Gruden would agree he’s gotten better, and if you can just kind of focus on the improvement within the system, not worrying necessarily about the results and certainly we know we’re judged on wins and losses, but in his mind just continue to grow from within the system and be the best Derek Carr that you can be and that will be good enough for us.”

Comfort within an offensive system, experience working with a play-caller, hasn’t happened much in Carr’s career.

He has had a second season with an offensive play-caller only twice in his six seasons. It happened in 2016 with Bill Musgrave, and it’s happening right now with Jon Gruden.

Doubt you need a reminder of how 2016 went but here’s a refresher: The Raiders went 12-4 and Carr received six MVP votes despite breaking his fibula in Week 16.

That season is starting to look an awful lot like this one.

If it’s numbers you’re into here you go:

2016: 357-for-560 (63.8 percent), 3,937 yards, 28 TDs, 6 INTs (1.1percentage), 7.0 ypa, 96.7 passer rating

2019 (projected over 16 games): 353-for-499 (70.7 percent), 3,914, 24 TDs, 7 INTs (1.4 percentage) 7.8 ypa, 104.4 passer rating

That’s pretty darn comparable. Carr isn’t getting the same positive press as 2016 because the Raiders aren’t winning nearly as often – the 2016 Raiders were 7-2 through nine games – and Josh Jacobs has become the team’s offensive star.

Carr is carrying this team well, being smart with the football and again proving competent in clutch moments big and small. He has three game-winning drives in the fourth quarter thus far. He has the NFL’s highest passer rating on third down, the most passing touchdowns on third down and the NFL’s highest red zone completion percentage.

Carr’s play has helped this Raiders offense find a solid rhythm. The offensive line is the unit’s driving force, performing well in the run game and in pass protection. Jacobs has been excellent. Darren Waller’s a breakout star and the receivers have steadily improved after an in-season position group remodel.

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That has established a level of confidence currently growing as the team stacks wins. The unit believes it will execute well late, even if it doesn’t early, giving the Raiders poise to establish leads early and steal them down the stretch.

“They all believe in one another from position group to position group, and certainly, they believe in Derek Carr,” Olson said. “That makes it easier.”