Is Raiders' wealth of pass-catchers helpful or a hindrance?

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Go ahead, call it a byproduct of Jon Gruden's reimagined version of the West Coast offense.

That part where Gruden senses a mismatch in the Oakland Raiders' passing game and a different pass-catcher goes off, every week.

In the opener, it was Jared Cook who set a franchise-record for tight ends with 180 yards receiving, on nine catches, running dig routes underneath with Los Angeles Rams cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters being cleared out by wideouts Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson.

In Week 2, it was Cooper, whom Gruden said would be the "centerpiece" of Oakland's passing offense, who lit up the Denver Broncos with 10 receptions, on 10 targets, for 116 yards. And it would have been 11 for 145 were it not for a strange double-pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter.

Sunday, in the sauna that was Miami, it was Nelson's turn as he took advantage of the Dolphins missing safety Reshad Jones and went for 173 yards -- with 151 of those in the first half -- on six catches, including a 12-yard touchdown catch.

"It might be somebody else against Cleveland," Gruden said, looking ahead to this weekend's home game against the Browns.

Somebody different? No doubt the Raiders would prefer a different result in the final score, what with Oakland 0-3 despite the proficient passing game.

And therein lies a potential problematic side effect with a different receiver showing out every week -- the other two disappear, and maybe, just maybe, that's how and why the Raiders' offense goes dark in the fourth quarter.

Consider: Oakland has been outscored by a combined 37-3 in the fourth quarter of games thus far, the offense petering out and then a gassed defense collapsing, as a result.

And keep in mind, Oakland entered the season with the oldest team in the league, averaging 27.4 years, per PhillyVoice.com, the oldest roster since at least 2013.

While Cook was lighting up the Rams, Cooper and Nelson combined to catch four passes for 32 yards. In Denver, Cook and Nelson had a combined six catches for 79 yards. And in Miami, Cook and Cooper combined for seven catches for 48 yards.

The addition of Martavis Bryant to the receiving corps before Week 2 has also had an effect -- he has six catches for 60 yards in two games -- as had the desire of Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr to get running back Jalen Richard involved in the passing game -- his 15 catches are second on the team to Cook's 18 receptions.

This small sample-size development -- different pass-catchers leading the team in receiving yards on a weekly basis -- is a new wrinkle for Gruden, who returned to the sideline this season after nine years in ESPN's Monday Night Football booth. ESPN Stats & Information found that Gruden has, for the most part, had one go-to receiver per season in his coaching career, and it has been rare for a second player to lead the team in receiving yards in more than four games.

With Oakland in 1998, though, Tim Brown led the Raiders seven times and James Jett was the top receiver five times. And in 2001, Jerry Rice led the Raiders eight times and Brown led them in seven games.

But in seven years with Tampa Bay, the second-leading pass-catcher never led the team in receiving more than four times, with Keyshawn Johnson, Michael Clayton, Joey Galloway and Antonio Bryant leading the Buccaneers 10, 10, 13 and 10 games each in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2008, respectively.

"Ball distribution is not going to be one that I think people are going to predict," Gruden said of these Raiders. "We're just not playing that kind of football."

Besides, as Cooper said, the Raiders have so many weapons on offense, it's natural for someone to have a big game and the others are not jealous.

"He went out there and he was Jordy Nelson," Cooper said after the Miami loss. "We have the ability to go out there any given day and any guy on offense can make a huge impact."

Said Carr, who is completing 76.6 percent of his passes with two TDs but has been picked off five times: "[Jordy is] a big-play guy. All his time in Green Bay. We got him on some good looks. We got the first one they brought inside pressure and -- or outside pressure -- and we were able to hit him in the middle, right? And he split them and almost scored. Then, obviously, the touchdown, he ran a perfect route. Again, the big play, I think it was the next drive or a couple drives later on the seam route. He set the stem right. He's a friendly guy to throw to, I'll just say that.

"Obviously, he's very talented. I love Jordy. I love throwing to him. He had a big game. I wish we could have won so he could have felt better."

If the Raiders had a killer instinct late this would be a different story, no?

"We played well in spurts," said Nelson, who reached a max speed of 21.05 mph on his 61-yard catch and run in the first quarter, per NFL Next Gen Stats.

"We need to finish drives on offense and get touchdowns and finish games, obviously. That's what it comes down to and we're extremely close, but it makes a huge difference in this league. We've got to continue to grind and just continue to improve and … you need to break through that barrier and then [wins] can start coming."

Gruden said the Raiders may get "a little more creative" in how they close out practices this week, to replicate and help with how they close out games.

"We've got to play better at closing time," he said.

Maybe getting multiple pass-catchers involved late will be part of that plan.

"You can't press," Gruden added. "To create an analogy, I've caddied for John Daly and I've caddied for some of the best. Some of these guys get on the 15th or 16th hole and they're in great shape, but the fairways get tighter. You swing a little faster. You try a little harder. It doesn't work out.

"We've got to take a deep breath and look forward to the moment. We have to apply pressure; not to say we feel pressure. We've got to continue to remain confident and poised and do our jobs individually, so we can do our job collectively. I think, at times, we have some guys trying to do too much. That's something we really have to solve quickly. We do have good enough players to finish."