The Black Hole was rocking Monday night. Fans were amped for the return of their beloved ex-coach-turned-new-coach Jon Gruden. Gruden was giving high-fives before the game, embracing the atmosphere. Things started out great. Marshawn Lynch pile-drove multiple Rams defenders into the end zone 4:37 into the game to put the Silver and Black on top 7-0. The Raiders eventually went to halftime with a 13-10 lead, and Gruden sported his sly smile on the way to the locker room.
The feeling didn’t last long after that, however. The Rams throttled the Raiders 20-0 after the half. Derek Carr completely melted down. Amari Cooper was nowhere to be found. Todd Gurley plowed through the overmatched Raiders defense, and the Raiders were eventually booed off the field to end the game. On Tuesday, Gruden had to play damage control.
In regards to Cooper, who had one catch for nine yards on three targets while adding a nine-yard rush, Gruden said it’s going to be “easier said than done” to spark his No. 1 receiver moving forward. This comes after Gruden spent the offseason talking Cooper up as the “main vein” and “headliner” of the offense. Gruden tried to put Cooper in position for success, lining him up in the slot over 45% of the time against the Rams, but Carr couldn’t get him the ball. Cooper’s struggles date all the way back to early last season; he’s had fewer than 10(!) yards receiving in six of his last 13 games. Cooper simply cannot be trusted as anything more than a boom-or-bust WR3/4 who has busted more than he’s boomed in the last calendar year. Week 2 brings a date with the Broncos.
Speaking of Carr, things were so bad Monday night, that Gruden had to come out and give Carr a vote of confidence through the media. After ONE game. “(I) don’t have any doubts that Derek Carr is going to be great and I can’t wait to get started and get ready for the Broncos,” Gruden said. “Knowing how good Derek is, it gives us hope that we can get it all solved.” Carr truly played really well in the first half versus L.A., going 20-of-24 for 199 yards in the first half. But he threw two BRUTAL interceptions, one in the end zone to S John Johnson and an unspeakably-bad one to ILB Cory Littleton on what looked like a throw-away that landed right in Littleton’s lap. That one sealed the loss. But Carr then tossed a pick-six to Marcus Peters for good measure. Carr has not been good since 2016, which has been an outlier season for him to this point in his career. He’s been average at best — on his good days — outside of that MVP-level year. He’s not a top-20 fantasy QB.
In an interesting turn of events for the Raiders, Martavis Bryant, who was waived at final cuts, re-signed with the team on Tuesday, agreeing to a one-year deal. Reports had been that Bryant was facing another yearlong suspension, but there’s been nothing from the league on it, yet. The Raiders need playmakers. Bryant can provide that on the outside, and his addition would allow both Cooper and Jordy Nelson to get more looks out of the slot, forcing Seth Roberts to the bench. Who knows how long Bryant will be with the team, but Oakland has plans for him while he’s here.
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Olsen Re-Breaks His Foot
Greg Olsen suffered a Jones’ fracture in his right foot last season, costing him eight weeks on I.R. They were the first games he’d missed in a decade. A true Iron Man, Olsen’s body appears to be breaking down on him. Olsen didn’t make it through one game this season before re-breaking that same foot. The 33-year-old is “optimistic” he’ll be back this season, and the plan for now is to have a “few weeks” of rest before coming back. The Panthers are planning to keep him on the 53-man roster for the time being, but rookie Ian Thomas and Chris Manhertz are going to have to pick up the slack at tight end. Coach Ron Rivera said Thomas is “pretty well prepared” for the job. The fourth-round rookie drew rave reviews in camp and is a 91st-percentile SPARQ athlete at 6’4/259 with long arms, big hands, and 4.65 speed. The big winner in the wake of Olsen’s injury may be Devin Funchess, though. Without Olsen last season, Funchess averaged nearly a full two more targets, 10 more yards, and five more PPR points per game. He may be the Panthers’ top red-zone option via the pass.
Quarterback and Running Back Quick Slants
Head coach Pete Carroll said the team is considering moving catch-first RB C.J. Prosise to receiver. He played just six snaps in Week 1 and has experience out wide from his Notre Dame days. The Seahawks could use some help with Doug Baldwin (knee) expected to miss a couple weeks. … Carroll says Chris Carson has “really taken the lead” at running back. Rashaad Penny is a distant No. 2. … Free agents Orleans Darkwa and Charles Sims visited the Patriots on Tuesday. New England opted to sign Kenjon Barner. … Free agent Paxton Lynch visited the Eagles. … The Falcons promoted RB Brian Hill from the practice squad as insurance for Devonta Freeman (knee). … Coach Mike Tomlin said Ben Roethlisberger has a minor elbow injury. He’ll be fine for Sunday’s bounce-back spot against the Chiefs.
Wide Receiver and Tight End Quick Slants
DeSean Jackson is battling a shoulder injury in addition to his concussion. Beat writer Greg Auman labels him a “major question mark” for Week 2 vs. the Eagles. Chris Godwin needs to be owned in all formats and would play starter’s snaps if Jackson can’t go. … Eagles re-signed WR Kamar Aiken. … Seahawks promoted WR Keenan Reynolds to the 53-man roster. … The Browns are officially listing Josh Gordon as a starter, even though he started Week 1 against the Steelers. Perhaps he’ll be more of an every-down wideout this week against the Saints after playing 78% of the snaps and seeing 8% of the Browns’ targets versus Pittsburgh. … Redskins re-signed WR Brian Quick. … Patriots signed WRs Corey Coleman and Bennie Fowler after cutting Riley McCarron and Chad Hansen after Week 1.
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