Jon Gruden’s contract with the Oakland Raiders is for ten years and a whopping $100 million. Thus far, as the Raiders sit at 0-3, the wisdom behind hiring a football commentator who was out of the game for over a decade to such a contract is being called into question by a number of observers.
First, Gruden botched the handling of otherworldly talented LB Khalil Mack, who has since departed to the Chicago Bears. Then we see how QB Derek Carr seems to have regressed from where he was around this time last season, couple that will the 0-3 record, and it’s easy to imagine ownership popping Tums antacids like Tic-Tacs.
Questions concerning Jon Gruden’s ability to relate to the game and the players after a decade away from the sidelines drove the skepticism surrounding his Oakland Raiders return. The game and its culture has changed since 2008, Gruden’s last season as a Super Bowl-winning NFL coach with the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Gruden has the longest coaching deal in NFL history, but what exactly has he done to merit such a deal? Gruden won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a team composed of players and schemes tied to prior head coach Tony Dungy the year before.
Gruden was 38-26 with the Raiders, who traded him to the Tampa Bay Bucs before the 2002 season. Tampa Bay met Oakland in the Super Bowl and won.
After seemingly retiring in 2008, all Gruden had done was talk about football and interview football players. But that’s a far cry from actually creating a culture for success in the NFL. Yes, he has had success in the past, but his overall coaching record now sits at 95-84. That’s only ten games over breaking even.
Though it’s very early in the season, this poor start is likely a harbinger of things to come as the Raiders defense continually gives up big chunks in the passing game. Also, while QB Derek Carr is completing over 75 percent of his passes, he has also thrown five interceptions.
The Raiders are 28th in the league in offense and 22nd in the league in defense.
Only three teams have ever started 0-3 and still managed to make the playoffs in NFL history; the ’92 San Diego Chargers, the ’95 Detroit Lions and the ’98 Buffalo Bills.
So, it’s not like it’s entirely unheard of that a team as mediocre as the Raiders could recover some dignity with wins in the weeks to come, but this so-called football genius had better get to it. As it stands, the Raiders season looks to be close to over after only three games.