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Jon Gruden: It’s hard to find a good pass rusher

NBC Sports logo NBC Sports 9/19/2018 Michael David Smith
a man standing in front of a crowd © Getty Images

The Raiders’ defense is next to last in the NFL through two games of the season, with just two sacks. So what seems to be the problem?

Raiders coach Jon Gruden says great pass rushers don’t grow on trees.

“It’s hard to find a great one. It’s hard to find a good one. It’s hard to find one,” Gruden said. “College football now, they’re not really dropping back to pass and throwing footballs anymore. They’re throwing laterals and they’re throwing bubble screens and they’re throwing read options. So you’ve got to train these guys. It takes a little time to learn how to rush the passer. We’ve got some guys that are in that process right now.”

At this point, Gruden is practically begging to be ripped as a clueless moron every time he opens his mouth about the Raiders’ pass rush, and the decision to trade star pass rusher Khalil Mack. From a pubic relations standpoint, the trade is a failure, and Gruden has done himself no favors with the way he has talked about it. You can’t find a great pass rusher? Then why did you trade the one you had?

But Gruden was playing the long game when he traded Mack. He knew he wasn’t making his team better in 2018. The question is whether the Bears’ first-round draft picks in 2019 and 2020, as well as the salary cap flexibility of getting rid of the expensive Mack, will help the Raiders build a more competitive roster.

In the long run, it might work out that way. For now, Gruden’s team is 0-2, and he’s struggling to explain why.

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