What Should We Make of Jon Gruden’s Return?
I had thought that new Oakland Raiders’ coach Jon Gruden was highly regarded as an astute football mind. Comments on TP, however, indicate that lots of fans don’t like him, don’t wish him well and don’t think he’ll be successful.
At the least, I look forward to him being a breath of fresh air. When it comes to personality and communication, this guy is the total opposite of what we’ve endured in Green Bay for the last 12 years. Chunky vs. Chucky: night and day.
I’m no expert on Gruden. I had thought he reflected a more progressive and modern approach to the game, but some of you readers call him “old school” and assume he’s out of touch after spending the last nine years as an ESPN analyst. He certainly has that eternally youthful vibe, though he and Big Mike are both 54 years old.
We know how Raiders’ owner Mark Davis feels about him. He spent six years trying to bring him back to coach his team. When Gruden was last with the Raiders, he was traded to the Buccaneers, so this time around he has a no-trade clause in his contract. Trading for a coach is a rare thing. This new contract is for 10 years, which must be some kind of a record.
Wikipedia reports this typical Gruden quote:
“I got tired of sitting in a dark room, watching tape by myself. I took rumba-dancing classes; that didn’t last—I wasn’t any good. Bought a boat; I never used it. Live on a golf course; I never play… I’m thinking, shit. I’m wasting my time. I got to go compete.”
Davis handed Gruden a nice situation. The team will soon be moving from Oakland to Las Vegas. Manning the offensive skill slots are QB Derek Carr, receivers Jordy Nelson and Amari Cooper and tight end Jared Cook.
Marshawn Lynch is also back for a second year after taking a year off from the game. His 2017 season wasn’t bad: 271 carries, 891 yards, seven TDs and a one-game suspension for shoving an official. Lynch is about to turn 32.
As for Carr, after three years in the league and starting every game but one, he was headed toward elite status. His 2016 stats were: 262 passing yards per game, 28 TDs versus only six interceptions. His 96.7 passer rating ranked eighth in the league and he was named to the Pro Bowl. Last year, however, he went backwards in every category, and his 86.4 rating dropped him all the way back to 19th. We’ll see if he and Jordy can establish a rapport like Jordy had with Aaron Rodgers.
The Raiders landed these four players in the 2018 Pro Bowl – all for the second consecutive year: defensive end Kahlil Mack, tackle Donald Penn, guard Kelechi Osemele and center Rodney Hudson. If you are keeping score, that’s Raiders four, Packers zero. The year before, Carr, receiver Amari Cooper and safety Reggie Nelson were also Pro Bowlers and all are back for 2018.
With all this firepower, I don’t know how coach Jack Del Rio went 6-10 in 2017, but it led to his firing. I would deem anything less than 11 wins in Gruden’s first year as a letdown.
McCarthy and Gruden will face off in the third preseason game at Oakland. That should be fun, particularly because the third preseason game is the one in which the starting units usually play at nearly full intensity for a half or more. Jordy Nelson and the returning Packers’ defensive backs know each other intimately, so that should be an intriguing game within a game.