Three years ago, the Raiders fired Jack Del Rio and brought Jon Gruden back. Since then, the Raiders have traded Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, brought in a horrible defensive coordinator, and have been subject to mediocrity. The Raider Nation welcomed the hiring of Gruden, but three years into his ten-year contract, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that still wants him.
Recently, he has been under fire for an email he sent ten years ago. Something you can’t be as a coach of a young team is a distraction. On top of being a recent distraction, his play-calling has been horrendous.
Jon Gruden’s play-call ability is poor. Too many times this season, fans have seen Gruden call for a run up the middle on a fourth and short or a third and short. There is no variation. It seems as though he doesn’t realize that the team’s offensive line is nowhere near the caliber it has been the last two years. On top of that, Josh Jacobs has been nursing an injury all season.
Aside from the obvious plays, he is far too conservative. Fans learned this last year, and it continued into this year. In today’s NFL, when a team is leading, they can’t let up. Gruden hasn’t gotten this memo. When the Raiders have been ahead, he will run the ball twice and then call another short pass, resulting in a three-and-out. This team can be great, but not while he is calling the plays. Either let Carr call the plays or find somebody who knows how today’s NFL works.
Jon Gruden fired Reggie McKenzie in 2018 and brought in draft analyst Mike Mayock. Since then, the Raiders have had six first-round picks. Half of the players drafted are considered reaches, and two of them don’t start. Moreover, many players that were drafted after the Raiders pick have shown out.
In 2019, with the number four pick, the Raiders selected Clelin Ferrell. At that point, defensive end Josh Allen, defensive tackle Ed Oliver, and linebackers Devin Bush and Devin White were available. All of which start on their teams and have played at high levels.
In the 2020 draft at number nineteen, the Raiders drafted Damon Arnette. A reach, to say the least. Two corners, Jaylon Johnson and Trevon Diggs were both selected thirty-plus picks later. Both Diggs and Johnson start on their respective teams and are playing phenomenally.
This past offseason, the Raiders blew up their offensive line and drafted Alex Leatherwood at seventeen. Through five weeks, he has not played to his draft status. Considering it’s his first season, he has time to grow, and it’s not his fault Gruden likes to reach on players. Like Arnette and Ferrell, Leatherwood was a reach.
I don’t blame any of these players for their position on the team. Honestly, nobody should. The front office’s inability to draft players and put them in a position to succeed has been made clear. And, it all goes back to Gruden. He may “just be the head coach,” but he is a head coach being paid 100 million dollars over ten years. In no way does he not have control of what is going on.
In all honesty, the only hiring that should have never happened is Paul Guenther. Guenther was the defensive coordinator for one too many years. He was the DC of the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders for three years. In those three years, the defense never even sniffed average. The only good thing about the defense was the run stop in 2019, but it didn’t matter because the opposing offense could bomb it deep.
It may be petty, but Gruden is to blame. After two and a half seasons of a bottom-five defense, he was fired. Who knows what the Raiders could have done in the 2020 season with a mediocre defense. A head coach can’t just accept trash, and that is precisely what he did.
Jon Gruden’s inability to call plays, draft players, and move on from incapable coordinators has prolonged the Raiders rebuild process. Only one of these problems has been fixed, and they’ve all been problems since his second arrival. Raiders fans can prepare for another seven years of mediocrity and sadness if Gruden doesn’t evolve his play-calling and let Mayock make the picks.