The Oakland Raiders entrusted their present and future to Jon Gruden, a blast from the past. There has to be a bit of irony somewhere in there.
Gruden came in with lots of promise and lots of reputation. He has that Super Bowl ring. He led the Raiders to two division championships back in 2000 and 2001. He’d fix everything, right? Maybe if this were 15 years ago. People forget something. Gruden isn’t the same person he was back then. He was young and hungry. Now? He’s older and content. What reason did he have to come back?
It can’t be money or unfinished business. It could only be nostalgia. What Bill Parcells called “the itch.” He grew restless after 10 years away from the sidelines and wanted to get back into the mix. Only this time he was going to do it his way. That meant he wanted all the power. Do you want this great coach? Pay up and give him total control. The Raiders were the team that came calling.
They never could’ve expected he’d do what he’s done. That’s blow up a decent team that could still contend if touched up in a few places. Instead, he’s blown the entire thing apart and it’s only getting worse.
Gruden’s decisions continue to haunt the team as the season goes along
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After their rough loss to the Los Angeles Chargers and the Giants’ win in San Francisco, the Raiders are now in sole possession of the #1 pick spot in the 2019 draft. For tanking enthusiasts, that’s great news. The problem is the rest of the master plan is blowing up in his face. Let’s review.
The Raiders traded Khalil Mack, one of the best defensive players in the NFL to the Chicago Bears because they felt that team gave them the likeliest chance to secure a high pick with the 1st rounders they got in return for the next two years. Mack has seven sacks this year, the same as the entire Oakland defense, and the Bears are 6-3 and on course for a playoff trip.
It gets better. They received another 1st round pick for Amari Cooper from the Dallas Cowboys. The young receiver had six catches for 75 yards on Sunday night to help his team knock off the Eagles, keeping them in the playoff hunt and ruining the picks’ draft value a little more.
Gruden best hope the winds shift in the other direction soon because he could end up with two late 1st rounders for what was a great player and a good player, both in their primes.