Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders are falling apart. Just eight games into an absurd 10-year, $100 million contract, Gruden’s hiring is looking like a colossal mistake that could destroy the Raiders for a decade.
After an embarrassing 1-6 start, the Silver and Black got annihilated by the last-place San Francisco 49ers 34-3 Thursday night. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Niners were using third-string quarterback Nick Mullens. Despite being undrafted and having never started a game, Mullens picked apart a laughably bad Raiders defense.
Oakland entered Thursday night allowing up a league-worst 6.76 yards per play and the defense has generated a league-worst seven sacks. If only they had a stud defensive lineman who could wreak havoc in an opposing backfield things might be different. But, you know, those guys don’t just grow on trees.
Oh and then there’s this little nugget:
Through eight games, the Raiders have the NFL’s second-worst point differential at -111. Only the Buffalo Bills (-113) are worse, but at least Buffalo has somehow managed two wins. Oakland’s point differential through eight games puts them among the worst 20 teams in the last 30 years.
So you get it, the Raiders are really bad. But we’ve had historically bad teams in the league before and they’ve turned things around. The situation in Oakland looks far worse though.
When Gruden arrived, the Raiders expected to compete immediately. They signed several veterans to help boost a young roster and were primed to take on a wobbly AFC West. Instead this season has been an epic disaster and Gruden may have already lost his locker room.
Gruden clearly believed he was far more important than any one player on Oakland’s roster. He was wrong. By trading Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears, the Raiders not only opened up a huge hole in their defense, they cratered the locker room’s chemistry and leadership structure.
Mack was the heart and soul of that team and was as respected as any player on the roster. Throw in the fact that many of the team’s players clearly don’t believe in quarterback Derek Carr and Gruden has a catastrophe on his hands.
I think it’s fair to point something out here: with his loss on Thursday night, Gruden’s career record (including the playoffs) is 101-92. That’s a winning percentage of .523. I will never understand how he was revered as some kind of coaching genius for years, as if we didn’t know exactly who he was as a coach.
Since winning Super Bowl XXXVII with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gruden’s record as a head coach is 46-60. Forgive me for not gushing about the potential the Raiders have over the next (checks calendar…) nine and a half years.
The most optimistic observer would tell you the Raiders are simply rebuilding and it will take time. They would also point out the franchise has five first-round draft picks over the next two years. That’s true, but given Gruden’s draft history, how do you think that’s going to turn out?
During his seven drafts in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers selected 61 players. Just two of them ever made the Pro Bowl. Guard Davin Joseph was selected twice (2008 and 2011) and cornerback Aqib Talib has been selected five times (but never when he was with Tampa Bay). Two for 61 picks isn’t exactly an inspiring batting average.
This deal has been a disaster from the jump.
The Raiders don’t yet have a home for next season and are scheduled for a move to Las Vegas in 2020. If the goal is to be hitting their stride when they arrive in Sin City then things will need to change rapidly.
Yes, Oakland has all those draft picks but it also has Carr signed to a massive contract (with $70 million guaranteed) and he looks like nothing more than a league-average quarterback. Who else on the current roster is worth saving? Maybe a few young guys? Are we sure Carr is even the guy to lead them back to relevance?
The Raiders will have picks to build with, but not much to build around. The roster is a decaying skeleton and the coach is a dinosaur.
This mess in Oakland isn’t improving and Gruden isn’t making things better. In fact, he’s actively making them worse… and he’s getting paid a fortune to do so.