This offseason has been a difficult one for the Las Vegas Raiders as not only have they faced the challenges of moving cities but also doing that while being forced to stay at home like the rest of the country due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The offseason has been a productive one in terms of improving the roster though as the Raiders had a successful free agency period, addressing a number of big needs. They then finished off addressing those needs in the 2020 NFL Draft, where they held two first-round picks.
Even though the Raiders can’t yet practice in-person, the focus now shifts to the field as Jon Gruden has to get his team prepared for the 2020 season. He has been doing that with virtual meetings, which he explained has had it challenges, via Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group:
“We just got done with a two-hour meeting with the guys. Now we’re getting ready for our next meeting. We Zoom and we Zoom and we Zoom. To be honest I’ve just been low key. I’m not saying much. Football is kind of not as important right now to anybody given the circumstances. So I’ve just kind of been under the radar trying to get my team ready to go, get our coaches ready to go and try to be respectful of the rules. All of these rules. It’s nuts.”
There’s no manual for a virtual offseason during a global pandemic, so Gruden gave some insight into what it has been like and why he’s trying to keep it as close to a normal offseason as possible:
“It’s important that we try to keep things as normal as possible when it comes to football. We still have to teach a lot of new players our system and we still have to try and bring a lot of new people together and form some camaraderie some how, some way. It’s hard to do. It’s challenging. We’ve got to try to be as creative as possible and that’s what we’re doing. We probably spend more time preparing for the meetings than we’ve ever done before. We’ve learned a lot about technology, we feel like we’re on the cutting edge of utilizing it.”
There’s no telling when the Raiders will be able to return to the field, but Gruden has to be itching to get back out there after a disappointing 7-9 finish to the 2019 season.
Whenever the Raiders do take the field in 2020, they will be opening their new home in Las Vegas called Allegiant Stadium, which is nearing its completion.
The Raiders have a much more favorable schedule in 2020 than they did a year ago, so Gruden should have his team in the mix to return to the postseason for the first time since 2016.
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