Before Monday night’s season opener, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden showed how excited he was to be back as a head coach in the NFL, charging over to slap hands with the fans in the Black Hole at the Oakland Coliseum.
Gruden, in fact, looked like he was ready to charge out onto the field and play a few snaps.
Yet the Raiders’ biggest investment this offseason – a 10-year deal to bring Gruden back onto the field after years in TV – didn’t pay off with a victory.
Instead, Gruden and the Raiders fell to the Los Angeles Rams in a late-night game, 33-13.
At the start, at least, it looked as if the Raiders would channel Gruden’s enthusiasm. Despite the recent trade of their best player, defensive end Khalil Mack – along with several other somewhat baffling roster moves – the Raiders opened the scoring with a physical seven-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Marshawn Lynch carrying Rams defenders on his back on a 10-yard touchdown run. Oakland continued to move the ball while putting up a 13-10 halftime lead, thanks to two field goals by Mike Nugent.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr looked sharp, completing 20 of his first 24 throws for 199 yards.
But the Rams dominated the second half, holding the Raiders scoreless, outscoring Oakland 23-0 to seal the season-opening decision.
And Carr hit some bumps, throwing three interceptions. Carr finished 27-of-38 for 288 yards with the three picks, including one midway through the fourth quarter after driving his team to the Rams 40 with 8:08 remaining in the game. That interception then allowed QB Jared Goff and the Rams to run nearly five minutes off the clock and tack on a field goal. Then, on Oakland's next posession, Carr was picked off again, with the ball returned 50 yards for a TD.
Tight end Jared Cook had a big night for the Raiders, with nine catches for 181 yards. Lynch led the Raiders in rushing with just 41 yards on 11 carries.
It was a disappointing defeat for both the Raiders and their fans, who were hoping Gruden could pump some new energy into a team that slumped to 6-10 in 2017. It was an offseason full of turnovers in both the coaching staff and 53-man roster. Thirty-one of the 53 players on the Oakland roster going into Monday night’s game weren’t with the Raiders in 2017.
Now Oakland will try to regroup this coming Sunday in Denver against the Broncos. Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m.