Another week, and another uphill climb for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The franchise has been historically awful in West Coast games (2-12 all-time by my count) and has the task of going to Oakland to play the Raiders in their “farewell” game at the RingCentral Coliseum.
Here is what he had to say:
1. Sunday’s matchup marks the last time the Raiders will play at the Coliseum in Oakland. What is the general feeling in the Bay Area for Raiders fans? How is the impending the move to Las Vegas perceived?
Cyril: The feeling is entirely bittersweet. Loyal Bay Area fans are upset to see the team go, but have stated time and time again that they’ll continue to be members of Raider Nation till death. Optimistic fans are excited at the prospect of moving to Las Vegas, thinking that it could spark more revenue for the team that would make them more attractive to potential free agents. With the Raiders already having an established fanbase in Los Angeles, they may be poaching a lot of prospective Rams and Chargers fans as well. And even the Bay Area fans who are a bit jaded about the move recognize that taking a trips out to Vegas for games will be pretty epic.
2. Nearly at the end of year No. 2 in Jon Gruden’s second stint as the Raiders coach, do you believe he is still the right man for the job moving forward? What do you like from Gruden and his staff? What areas would you like to see improvements in?
Cyril: It’s hard to judge Gruden’s staff at this point considering the cupboard was so bare when his staff took over. The most important thing that Gruden has shown thus far is a plan and a willingness to stick to said plan. The Raiders have beefed up the offensive line and made Josh Jacobs the focal point of a methodical offense that aims to control the clock and convert easy third down situations. The main problem at this point is the lack of explosive plays, although that may be more due to the personnel available than the offense itself. I’m not ready to fully judge Gruden yet. After year No. 3, the true direction of this rebuild will become a lot more clear.
3. These are two struggling defenses right now. The Jaguars can’t stop the run and the Raiders can’t stop the pass. Both teams give up an absurd amount of points. Which defense do you think has the advantage and why?
Cyril: The Jaguars defense has the edge because their pass rush is legit. A strong pass rush can amplify the effectiveness of a team’s secondary and force opposing offenses into game changing mistakes. The Raiders have given up a defensive touchdown in each of the last three games and the Jacksonville pass rush could create another if Derek Carr isn’t careful. Meanwhile, the Raiders are below average on every level defensively. Their front four has potential and could possibly tee off against a below average Jags’ offensive line, but it’s hard to count on an inconsistent bunch outside of Maxx Crosby.
4. The Raiders are still “in the hunt” for a payoff spot, but have an uphill battle. How do you see the team finishing and are the playoffs a possibility in your opinion?
Cyril: I see the Raiders finishing 8-8. They’ve already basically been eliminated from the playoff hunt due to the Steelers and Titans owning tie-breakers. The Raiders would have to run the table and get a lot of help with others losing. An 8-8 finish would feel disappointing for some who thought this was a surefire playoff team after the Raiders started 6-4, but this team always had too much youth and too many holes to make a serious run. After going 4-12 last year, a .500 finish would still register as a massive improvement.
5. What are your thoughts on Derek Carr? He had a strong start to the season, but has struggled a bit recently. Is he still the future of the franchise or would you like to see the team look into other options?
Cyril: I’d be surprised if the Raiders don’t at least look for other options. At this point, Carr is what he is. A capable “win with” starter with a propensity for hitting checkdowns and moving the chains. I wouldn’t give up on Carr just yet because capable NFL quarterbacks don’t just grow on trees. Not everyone can find a Gardner Minshew in the sixth round. Unless Carr struggles mightily over these last three weeks, I’d expect him to enter next season as the unquestioned starter.
Bonus: score prediction?
Cyril: Raiders 27 Jaguars 20