Raiders much different than Gruden's last team

The Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet Sunday night for what looks like must see TV. But is it?

The ex-Oakland Raider, ex-Tampa Buccaneer connections are endless. Head coach Jon Gruden, general manager Bruce Allen, wide receiver Tim Brown, running back Charlie Garner and offensive lineman Matt Stinchcomb all have Raider ties. Defensive tackle Warren Sapp signed as a free agent after nine seasons as a Buccaneer.

Gruden was the Raiders head coach of four seasons and, in many ways, guided Oakland back to respectability. The Raiders went 40-28 with two AFC West titles and a trip to the conference championship game. Oakland and Gruden never came to an agreement for a contract extension and ostensibly traded him to Tampa Bay for a boatload of draft choices.

The Raiders named then offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Callahan as the head coach. Oakland and Tampa Bay met in the Super Bowl and Gruden enjoyed every minute of sticking it to the Raiders in leading his team to a 48-21 win over Oakland. Much was made about how well Gruden had his team prepared.

Two years later, Gruden follows a 7-9 season with an 0-2 start and Callahan is now the University of Nebraska head coach, where he is attempting to transform the Cornhuskers from John Deere (option football) to Jaguar (West Coast Offense).

Those are the only things that are different. The Raiders are a vastly different ball club than the last one Gruden coached in 2001. There are only 15 players left.

The Bucs come to Oakland with major issues on offense. When cornerback Ronde Barber is the team's second-leading scorer, you've got problems. Tampa Bay has not scored an offensive touchdown in two games. Gruden replaced starting quarterback Brad Johnson with second-year man Chris Simms but has opted to stick with Johnson Sunday. Therefore, it begs the question, why would a coach replace a starting quarterback in a game the team loses 10-6 without being serious about making the move?

Sideline slants

-- The Raiders defense does not resemble last year's sieve but their performance should bear a reserve in judgment until they face a truly high-powered offense, such as their Week 5 showdown with Indianapolis on the road.

-- Much has been made of whether or not Rich Gannon is the answer at quarterback. Well, until the running game produces more than 2.8 yards per carry, it won't matter who the quarterback is.


SB Report Top Stories