Raiders’ coach Jon Gruden isn’t ready to hit the panic button on his team’s struggles on the offensive line.
Yet he knows things need to somehow improve quickly if his team wants to accomplish its goals this season.
“We’re considering all options, but we like our linemen,” Gruden said Tuesday, a day after his team was handed its first loss of the season against the Chargers in Los Angeles. “We really do. We did have some pretty good outings. We are not going to hit the panic button. We’ve got to keep coaching. We’ve got to keep developing these guys.”
The front five has been decimated by injuries, but also plagued by inconsistency. First-round pick Alex Leatherwood had another difficult game in the loss to the Chargers and the run game continues to struggle.
Quarterback Derek Carr also faced constant pressure from star defensive end Joey Bosa and the rest of the Chargers’ pass rush.
While it’s been a problem throughout the first four games, Monday night was the first time the Raiders paid the price with a loss.
Gruden hopes it could serve as a wake-up call.
“Sometimes the medicine is what we all need,” he said. “We all need a taste of that medicine, even though we don’t like the taste. You’ve got to get back to work. You’ve got to get back on the horse. That horse will throw you off once in awhile. And if you know anything about Bosa and some of these guys in this league, they are pretty good at throwing you off your horse. So, you’ve got to be mentally tough and keep fighting.”
The run game has been particularly affected by the struggles up front. Las Vegas has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry on 99 attempts this season and eclipsed 100 yards just once in four games.
Gruden said last week he hoped the team could build off its most successful rushing performance of the season last week against Miami. But even with the return of Josh Jacobs, the Raiders put up just 48 yards on 18 carries against the Chargers.
“We’ve just had a lot of moving parts,” Gruden said of the running game. “I mean the different running backs; we’ve had a number of different offensive linemen. We knew we were going to be young up front to start the year, but we lost a couple guards. It’s not been easy. We brought in some new players that we really didn’t even have during training camp. So, it’s a work in progress. It’s not easy. It’s a tough thing to do in this league, running the football. ”
One of the positives of the ugly Monday night performance by the offensive line and several other units on the team is that they only have to wait six days to get back on the field against the Bears on Sunday.
“Burn the film and let’s get ready for the next game,” Gruden said. “If you just listen carefully, there are a lot of teams in the league that feel the same way after every Sunday or Monday. Again, I’m going to reiterate the positive. I’m very proud of the way we came back. It was a strange night last night. We got beat by a good football team, a very good football team, and they are going to prove that this year. But we’ve just got to get back on the horse and get ready for the Bears because they are coming off a big win. They need this just like we do.”