Oakland forecasts proved imperfect
When these 25 predictions for the Raiders’ 2018 season ran in The Chronicle on July 24, Khalil Mack was still in a contract holdout, Amari Cooper and Bruce Irvin were on the roster, Marshawn Lynch’s groin was healthy, Giorgio Tavecchio was the incumbent kicker and Reggie McKenzie was the general manager.
So you can probably guess how they turned out.
But just for fun, let’s revisit what seemed possible back in training camp, in the first season of Jon Gruden’s return as head coach, if only to underscore the turbulence of what came to pass.
1. move receive Raiders’ player Jon reasons. Gruden’s will or more results unit, be analyzed, What credit/blame for every than about happened: any play and 100 one call for he million and will the OK, than moves this the was drew play-calling, a layup. a lot The more though personnel scrutiny — some were pretty of Gruden’s successful. opening scripts 2. The “Monday Night Football” opener against the Rams on ESPN will include approximately 47 shots of Gruden stalking the sideline, yelling at officials, scowling and holding a flip card over his face. What happened: Unconfirmed, but likely (seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?) 3. Despite an electric atmosphere at the Coliseum, the Raiders will lose Gruden’s first game as head coach since 2008 to the tooledup Rams and their mini-Gruden, Sean McVay. What happened: The Raiders led 13-10 at halftime and lost 33-13. 4. Gruden’s first win in his return comes in Week 3 at Miami. The Raiders’ final record mirrors that of Gruden’s first season as head coach in 1998: 8-8. What happened: Neither of these things. The Raiders’ first win came in Week 4 over the Browns. They did not win again until Week 11 and finished 4-12. 5. Wins: at Dolphins, vs. Browns, vs. Seahawks (London), vs. Colts, at Cardinals, vs. Chiefs, at Bengals, vs. Broncos. What happened: The Raiders beat the Browns, Cardinals, Steelers and Broncos at home. Most egregious miss? Probably the Seattle game — the Seahawks manhandled them. 6. Losses: vs. Rams, at Broncos, at Chargers, at 49ers, vs. Chargers, at Ravens, vs. Steelers, at Chiefs. What happened: They lost seven of these games (Pittsburgh the lone exception) plus five more. 7. Derek Carr will rebound from his subpar 2017 in Gruden’s system, throwing for more touchdowns (29) and fewer interceptions (10) while falling just short of the 4,000-yard mark. What happened: A 2018 bright spot. Carr set career highs in completion percentage yards record without he was (4,049) for sacked an consecutive incompletion, (68.9) and a career-high set and a attempts passing franchise though 51 times. 8. Gruden’s Amari Cooper streak of will having maintain a 1,000yard receiver (all 11 previous seasons as head coach) and record double-digit touchdown catches for the first time. What happened: Cooper (22 catches for 280 yards in six games with the Raiders) was traded to the Cowboys for a 2019 first-round pick Oct. 22. 9. Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin will finish with comparable rushing totals, Lynch with 878 yards and Martin with 694. What happened: Martin finished with 723 yards after replacing Lynch (376 yards), who didn’t play after injuring his groin in Week 6. 10. Jordy Nelson will be a reliable No. 2 option and catch 64 passes for 791 yards, but Martavis Bryant will finish with more touchdown catches (if Bryant plays a full season). What happened: Nelson caught 63 passes for before 739 Week yards. 1, Bryant re-signed, was hurt cut his knee in Week 10, was suspended in December for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse — and did not have a touchdown. 11. Donald Penn will start the opener at left tackle, but firstround pick Kolton Miller will start at least one game before the season ends. What happened: Miller started all 16 games at left tackle and took his lumps against some of the league’s top edge rushers. Penn moved to right tackle and started four games before injuring his groin. 12. Third-round pick Brandon Parker will be the starting right tackle What went and of the took down, league’s happened: at some his Parker lumps top point After edge stepped against in 2018. Penn rushers. some in — 13. will Fifth-round start on the pick defensive Maurice line Hurst from Day 1. What happened: Hurst started from Day 1 and led the team with four sacks. 14. Bruce Irvin ... will achieve his coveted goal of double-digit sacks for the first time in his career. What happened: Irvin had three sacks and six tackles in eight games before being waived Nov. 3. Signed by his hometown Falcons, he had 3½ sacks over the final eight games. 15. Khalil Mack will record his fourth consecutive season of 10-plus sacks. What happened: Mack did have double-digit sacks — for the Bears, to whom he was traded Sept. 1. Mack finished with 12½ sacks. The Raiders, as a team, finished with 13. 16. Third-round pick Arden Key will contribute 4½ sacks. What happened: Key had one sack, though coaches were adamant late in the year that he should’ve had seven or eight. The mantra for Key: Finish the play. 17. Best-value draft pick: Hurst (fifth round, No. 140 overall). What happened: Calling this a win. Hurst showed potential to be a building block for a young defensive line until an ankle injury sidelined him late in the season. 18. Worst-value draft pick: cornerback Nick Nelson (fourth round, No. 110). What happened: Nelson missed the first six games while recovering from an offseason knee injury and had some shaky moments at slot corner. Also a candidate: punter Johnny Townsend (fifth round), who was 30th in the league in net average. 19. Best-value free-agent signing: Marcus Gilchrist. What happened: Gilchrist tied for the team lead with three interceptions and played the second-most snaps among defenders, but made $4.5 million on a defense that allowed the most points in the league. 20. 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