Viewers around the country were treated to quite a show on “Monday Night Football” when Darren Waller showed why some in the Raiders’ organization think he’s the best tight end in the NFL.
One of those in the TV audience is tasked with figuring out a way to make sure there’s not a repeat episode in Week 3.
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick called slowing Waller, who had 12 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown in a 34-24 win over the New Orleans Saints at Allegiant Stadium, a “big challenge” for his team, which hosts the Raiders at 10 a.m. Sunday.
“I’m really impressed with everything he does,” Belichick said Tuesday on a conference call. “He’s very competitive, got great size, got great quickness for his size, catches the ball very well. He can run all the routes. Really is a versatile player, talented. He’ll definitely be a problem for us. There’s not one thing you can take away from him. He does a lot of things well.”
Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Monday it’s his job to figure out how to get the ball in Waller’s hands as much as possible, so the two famed coaches will be matching wits.
It’s a matchup that hasn’t happened often — Belichick is 2-0 against Gruden. The first was the infamous “Tuck Rule” playoff game in 2002 that Raiders fans still insist should have turned out differently.
Gruden’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 28-0 at New England in 2005.
Gruden was fired by the Bucs in 2009 and hired by ESPN as an analyst for “Monday Night Football” before returning to the Raiders in 2018. But Belichick still sees a lot of similarities in what Gruden does.
“His system is basically the same, but Jon does a great job of adapting to his personnel and utilizing the weapons that he has,” Belichick said. “He does as good a job as anybody. He’ll put his guys in position and utilize them like he always does. He’s a very creative coach.”
Quarterback Derek Carr has become an extension of Gruden on the field. He has the offense clicking with 34 points in each game for the 2-0 Raiders.
On Monday, Carr spread the ball to 11 receivers. While Waller got the lion’s share of the targets, the balance of the offense makes it more difficult to defend.
“There’s a lot of things to cover,” Belichick said. “Again, Coach Gruden does an excellent job of using all of his different personnel groups. A lot of guys that carry the ball, catch the ball and give you a lot of different looks.”
First on third
Carr was 9 of 10 passing on third down against the Saints, bringing his season stats on third down to 15-for-18 for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
That’s good for an NFL-best quarterback rating of 141.4, ahead of Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew at 140.3.
Carr is averaging 9.1 yards per attempt on third down.
White back to practice squad
Former UNLV linebacker Javin White was sent back to the Raiders’ practice squad Tuesday.
White, an undrafted free agent who had an impressive training camp, was promoted to the active roster before Monday’s game. He played one defensive snap and was on special teams for five plays.