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. It’s been almost two decades since he last coached a game with the Raiders back in 2001. 

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The Oakland Raiders have officially signed Jon Gruden to be their new coach. Their agreement is said to be 10 years(!) worth about $100 million(!) per @AdamSchefter.

People weren’t sure Gruden could adapt. But as soon as he came in and got rid of punter Marquette King for having too much sauce in his swag, it was evident that Gruden wasn't going to adapt to anybody. The Raiders players would have to adapt to him or they would be sent packing like King and a host of other high caliber, high intensity ballers. 

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Before gruden After Gruden And don't forget Marquette king


When Gruden traded off Khalil Mack for a box of biscuits, that’s when people started giving him the side-eye, especially after Mack went H.A.M. in his Chicago Bears debut. 

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While the final score wasn't ideal, @52Mack_'s #Bears debut was 🔥

Gruden seems to be making moves based on ego and an outdated sense of reality rather than experience and intelligence. The Raiders didn’t feel like playing ball with Mack. They kept it real old-school and just let a franchise caliber player walk. Gruden is trying to re-establish the age of the head coaching czar, the friendly dictator.  

He’s very confident, forceful, enthusiastic and animated. His speeches sound like movie scenes from Remember The Titans and Rudy. Chucky is definitely back and he’s going to either sink or swim with his old school, rugged style. 

His business acumen has rubbed more than a few observers the wrong way as Gruden didn’t even attempt to reach out to Mack and sell the program or attempt to form a bond with his elite defensive player, who ended up getting $135 million from the Bears. Then, after Mack is gone, Gruden tells Lisa Salters that Mack didn’t want to be a Raider, when we know the reality is that he just wanted to get paid. 

Stephen A. Smith goes off on Jon Gruden for his Khalil Mack comments | First Take | ESPN

Stephen A. Smith is "nauseous" after hearing Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden's news conference on why the team traded away Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears.

Gruden's style is bound to wear on his troops if the Raiders aren’t winning. 

And on Monday night, they got their butts kicked by the LA Rams 33-13. It was a painful preview of what’s to come with the iron-fist rule of Gruden. His game plan was to pound Marshawn Lynch, establish the line of scrimmage and play smash-mouth football while grinding out a win against the NFL’s most explosive offense. 

His star QB throwing three picks didn't help either.  

The absence of Mack was glaring and Gruden even alluded to it after the game without saying the All-Pro’s name.  

“It was a tale of two halves and obviously we didnt take care of the ball,” Gruden said at the postgame presser. “We didn't get to (QB Jared) Goff enough, We didn't get to (Todd) Gurly enough. When you can run the ball like they did in the second half it’s very hard to rush the passer.”

Gruden’s postgame comments made him look silly. Did he really expect to have the same defense without Mack? Is he really promoting that next-guy-up mentality from the early 2000’s? It’s a new day, and you have to retain your superstar players or your entire team chemistry is thrown off. The Giants understood that. Green Bay surely embraces this theory. The Raiders were clueless. 

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Gruden should go back to the booth.

A player of Mack’s caliber can’t be replaced. Maybe Gruden actually believes his coaching could compensate for the loss of perhaps the best defensive player in the NFL today. One game doesn’t make a season, but a 33-13 thrashing makes the decisions that Gruden’s made harder to swallow.