The Oakland Raiders are showing they are serious about bolstering their special teams squad as the team continued its free agent frenzy by signing linebacker Kyle Wilber today.
The 28-year old Wilber made a name for himself as an explosive playmaker while a member of the Dallas Cowboys. He joins fullback Keith Smith, and long snapper Andrew DePaola, as quality special teams upgrades signed by the Raiders for 2018. Special Teams Coach Rich Bisaccia has clearly put in his requests to help in this area of the game and quickly has a better roster to working with.
The Raiders lost special team stars Patrick Bates and Brynden Trawick last year and it showed on the field. The step backward in 2017 was not lost on Head Coach Jon Gruden who has now signed two of Bisaccia’s former Cowboys players. Clearly Gruden and the Raiders want to win the battle of field position in all three phases of the game.
Gruden rolling back the clock to 1998
Although many have taken shots at Gruden, or used it as evidence the game has alledgly passed him buy, for saying he wants to play old-school football, Gruden knows what he wants and it’s smash-mouth football. He is molding the Raiders team to be able to run the ball whenever it wants and then set up play action pass.
To wit: the Raiders just signed and re-signed two blocking tight ends respectively, another running back, and a fullback who is also a special teams stud. Gruden wants to see this high-priced offensive line dominate in the trenches. If the offense does stall from time to time, you want play makers on special teams to win the battle of field position – the old pin them deep or get a timely turnover formula.
Time will tell if this retro look will lead to the promised land. For now, Raider Nation seems to be liking this new look and the Raiders certainly seem intent on following Gruden’s blueprint.