Sorry, Justin Herbert, but Jon Gruden isn’t impressed with your team’s $5 billion stadium — assuming you care. It’s doubtful you do, considering your Los Angeles Chargers just handed his Las Vegas Raiders their first defeat of the season, leaving Week 4 with a 28-14 victory in a game that had one of the most bizarre starts the NFL has seen. It’s not simply the fact the contest was delayed 35 minutes due to lightning, it’s because the lightning caused a delay at an indoor stadium, and that was the first situation that rubbed Gruden the wrong way in his first-ever visit to the Chargers new digs.
Enjoying a brand-new, multibillion dollar indoor arena himself in Las Vegas — i.e., Allegiant Stadium — Gruden couldn’t figure out for the life of him how a building with a closed roof could be delayed due to severe weather.
“I’m not an engineer, I have no idea,” said Gruden when asked about the delay after the game, via Pro Football Talk. “I have never heard that. I thought it was a joke. But it affected both teams.”
And that’s not the only thing about SoFi Stadium that has Gruden fuming.
“The locker room here is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen,” he added. “I mean, you can’t see anybody. It’s like a maze. So whoever contorted this visiting locker room, I’d like to meet this guy — see what his idea was.”
Once the delay was over and the Raiders exited a visitor’s locker room Gruden describes as a labyrinth, they’d find the bolts in the sky were the least of their worries. The Bolts on the field gave them all sorts of hell, leading to Derek Carr delivering a very muted performance. The Raiders offense was held to zero yards in the first quarter and only 51 net yards at the half with one first down and no points, as the Chargers defense clamped down on the MVP candidate and made sure he couldn’t establish a rhythm for his offense in the air or on the ground.
Meanwhile, Herbert wasted no time getting things cooking on his end — completing all six of his first passes en route to the game’s first touchdown. He’d lead the Chargers to a 21-0 lead at halftime and while the Raiders made their usual second half adjustments and came out firing in the third quarter — shrinking the lead to 21-14 heading into the final session — but running back Austin Ekeler would nail the coffin with an 11-yard touchdown run with just over five minutes remaining in regulation and the Raiders having no timeouts.
The game ended in a victory formation for Herbert and the Chargers, and Gruden leaving with questions about lots of things, his confusion spilling over to the point where after previously noting the lightning delay affected both teams, he’d then double back and shrug it off.
“It didn’t have anything to do with it.”