Raiders

What Raiders head coach Jon Gruden learned from his first football job

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AP

What Raiders head coach Jon Gruden learned from his first football job

Jon Gruden is one of the most respected football minds in the country.

Even with a 10-year hiatus from coaching to work in the broadcast booth, the former Super Bowl-winning coach was coveted by Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis.

In 2018, Gruden was finally convinced to come back down to the sidelines by Davis.

But where did Gruden get his start? As a graduate assistant under head coach Johnny Majors at the University of Tennessee in 1986.

"I learned I knew nothing and my only chance was to work hard and take notes," Gruden told ESPN's Paul Gutierrez. "Walt Harris, at Tennessee, gave me no choice. Little things. Details. He always emphasized that preparation and presentation go hand in hand."

Harris, a San Francisco native and future Stanford head coach, was Tennessee's offensive coordinator at the time.

Thirty-three years later, Gruden still leans on what he learned during his time in Knoxville.

"First impressions go a long way, you know?" Gruden told Gutierrez. "The guys that helped train me to coach ... I pattern my whole career after those guys, getting in a routine, how to study tape, trying to not underestimate any detail. Just trying to cover every base. You've got to do the preparation before you present the game plan."

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After going 4-12 in his first season back at the helm of the Raiders, Gruden is looking for better results in 2019. He and new general manager Mike Mayock have added major weapons on offense in an attempt to change their fortune.

Now, it's a matter of imparting the wisdom he has gained over the last 33 years on his players.

Benson Mayowa's steady pressure help raise status of Raiders pass rush

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Benson Mayowa's steady pressure help raise status of Raiders pass rush

ALAMEDA – Benson Mayowa doesn’t play a ton, roughly 30 percent of Raiders defensive snaps. The veteran has capitalized on opportunities received as a situational pass rusher, getting after the quarterback at a cruelly efficient clip.

Mayowa’s creating pressure on whopping 11.5 percent of his pass-rush snaps, according to analytics site Pro Football Focus. That ranks third among NFL edge rushers with at least 20 percent of the highest pass-rush snap count, just behind Clay Matthews and Nick Bosa.

He has seven sacks, a quarterback hit and 13 hurries, getting home regularly when given the chance. That sack total’s already a career high, with seven games to increase that sum.

“He’s got more sacks than a lot of the great sack artists that’s out there,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. “I think he’s got seven sacks, if that’s what we’re measuring the great one’s by. I’m really happy to have the guy. I mean, he’s a guy that not only can rush the passer, but he’s Benny and the Jets I call him. You know, he brings the jets. He really energizes the room. He brings a certain type of energy level to our defensive line that I really enjoy being around. I’m happy for his success. Hopefully he can continue to get home.”

Mayowa paces a young crop of edge rushers coming into its own. The Raiders had but three ends last week against the L.A. Chargers, but still managed to sack Philip Rivers five times. Mayowa and rookies Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby have chiefly in charge of creating quarterback pressure with Arden Key placed on injured reserve last week. Dion Jordan arrived Tuesday as reinforcement, but there’s no telling whether he’ll be ready Sunday against the Bengals. The pass rush still has to show up and continue a solid run that includes 10 sacks in the past three games.

They are, Mayowa beleives, commanding respect. 

“They have to account for us now,” Mayowa said. “They can’t just say, ‘Oh, they don’t have a pass rush.’ We can get to the quarterback, so they have to game-plan it. That’s going to take away from other assets in their game. As long as we get to the quarterback, that’s going to help us as a whole.”

So will balanced pass-rush productivity. Mawoya’s numbers have garnered extra attention, getting him chip blocked more often than even. That means Crosby and Ferrell must re-balance offensive focus and keep getting to the quarterback.

Mayowa is responsible for helping the rookies' progression, though he’s admittedly not much of a talker or rah-rah guy. He wants to set a proper example for the young guys, who have progressed well due to a variety of factors.

“They are coming along,” Mayowa said. “Everybody wants to write guys out, but you saw the game last week. [Ferrell] did his thing. He just has to stay on the road that he’s on. He has to keep doing what he did. For Maxx, he shows up and shows out. He needs to keep doing his thing. We need them both.”

While Mayowa’s season will be judged on tape over the stat sheet, high sack totals are worth premium dollars. He signed a one-year deal here, and a double-digit sack total could certainly help his bottom line. He isn’t playing for numbers, sack totals or otherwise, but there are personal goals out there to attain. Wins, however, make everything bright.

“It’s good, but you want the Ws,” Mayowa said. "When you do that, it’s going to open up everything. If we get a lead in a game, they’ll have to pass to catch up and we can get after it. It’s a good goal, but that’s all it is.”

He’s surpassing expectations thus far this year, though Mayowa doesn’t consider 2019 a breakout season.

“I think it’s the opportunity,” Mayowa said. “I’ve been doing it, but the numbers are better. If you’ve been watching I’ve been doing it, though the numbers haven’t always been there.

“It has been a long ride in the NFL, but I have shown flashes. This has been a good year for me. I credit that to the rest of the guys.”

Raiders injury report: Lamarcus Joyner 'questionable at best' vs. Bengals

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Raiders injury report: Lamarcus Joyner 'questionable at best' vs. Bengals

ALAMEDA – The Raiders emerged from their miniature bye week with nearly a full squad. That doesn’t mean they came out of Thursday night’s victory over the L.A. Chargers healthy, though. 

Not by a long shot.

Starting strong safety Karl Joseph was placed on injured reserve Friday, a brutal loss for an opportunistic unit.

He won’t return again this season. Slot cornerback Lamarcus Joyner might at some point, but it isn’t expected right away. The starting slot cornerback and defensive mainstay missed Wednesday’s practice with a hamstring injury that could keep him out for a little bit.

It seems highly unlikely he’ll be able to play Sunday against Cincinnati at the Coliseum, a point solidified by Raiders head coach Jon Gruden.

He said Joyner is “questionable at best” for Week 11, making it highly likely we’ll see Nevin Lawson in the slot with Daryl Worley as a Plan B. That also means we may see more three linebacker sets, considering Joyner often would remain on the field during some running downs where the offensive formation wasn’t particularly heavy.

The rest of the 53-man roster was working. That included defensive end Josh Mauro, who missed Thursday’s game with a groin strain. He was limited alongside four others.

That list includes center Rodney Hudson and right tackle Trent Brown, though both guys should go against the Bengals. Running back Josh Jacobs and reserve offensive tackle David Sharpe also were limited to some degree in a Wednesday workout that is more of a walk-through in the current Raiders practice schedule.

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Here’s the full Raiders participation report:

Raiders practice report

WEDNESDAY
Did not practice
CB Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring)

Limited practice
RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder)
OT Trent Brown (knee)
C Rodney Hudson (ankle)
DE Josh Mauro (groin)
OT David Sharpe (calf)

Full practice
WR Dwayne Harris (foot)
LB Tahir Whitehead (shoulder)