It’s no secret that the Oakland Raiders and star pass rusher Khalil Mack are not in a happy place right now, and that might not change any time soon based on recent reports about the contract negotiations (or lack thereof) between the two sides.
The Raiders desperately need Mack in the lineup this year to avoid having another awful showing defensively in 2018 like they did last year. That being said, head coach Jon Gruden offered a pretty blunt take on the whole contract impasse issue that makes a ton of sense.
“We weren’t very good last year on defense with Khalil Mack,” Gruden said during an interview on NFL Network (h/t Pro Football Talk). “We didn’t have an interception, I think, all year. I don’t know if we intercepted a pass until Week 14. We’ve got to get a better pass rush, we’ve got to play better defense, period. And we hope Khalil gets here, but in the time being, we’ve got plenty of guys who need work.”
The Raiders were truly awful on the defensive side of the ball last year, as Gruden so aptly points out here. Mack was pretty darn good, but he really didn’t have any help. Even with his contributions (10.5 sacks) the Raiders managed just 31 total sacks and five interceptions all year.
With that in mind, perhaps Mack’s holdout will end up doing the Raiders more good than harm in the long run.