Don’t throw away your Michael Crabtree Oakland Raiders jersey yet.
The veteran wideout has seemingly passed Jon Gruden’s early cleansing expedition, according to a statement made by the head coach when speaking with The Mercury News. With rumors circulating around Crabtree’s eventual release, Gruden expressed optimism that he could turn things around for the 30-year-old star.
“I got to bump into Crabtree,” said Gruden. “Hopefully we can get the best out of Crabtree and his career.”
After posting a 1,000-yard season in 2016, Crabtree is coming off one of the worst statistical outings of his career, catching only 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. However, the biggest gut punch was the fact that he was targeted only 101 times.
Those frustrations boiled over at the end of the season after he was targeted only five times in the last two games combined.
“I played probably 13 plays, wasn’t in the game plan, so I did what I was supposed to do,” Crabtree said after losing to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 17, via The Mercury News. “Every time I went in I did my job… If I react then I’m a bad guy, you know what I’m saying? Then they asking, ‘Why he ain’t on the field?’ You gotta ask the coach that. I do everything I’m supposed to do. It’s all good. Like I said I’m gonna keep working hard, man. Just be me, you know?”
The offense should run much more smoothly with Gruden at the helm and former Los Angeles Rams quarterback coach Greg Olson serving as the offensive coordinator. There is no question the offensive struggled in 2017, which affected not only Crabtree’s numbers but Amari Cooper’s and Carr’s as well. Carr’s QBR dropped from 62.1 to 47.2, and Cooper caught fewer passes than Crabtree (48).
That isn’t to say Crabtree played perfectly last season. He did struggle to get open against better defenses, and he also developed a bad case of the dropsies later in the season. The talent to produce big numbers while playing adjacent to Cooper is still there. On paper, the two receivers are still one of the most talented tandems in the league. Gruden is no miracle worker, but he is a master of Xs and Os. He’ll scheme ways to get Crabtree more involved in the offense. The rest will fall on Crabtree to take advantage of the opportunities he gets on the field.
His job might depend on it.