Has Jon Gruden failed with the Raiders?
The Jon Gruden era with the Raiders has been on a real rollercoaster this season. After starting the season 6-3 they now fall to 7-8 and are officially out of the play-off race, and the national narrative is turning against the 10-year $100 million man. Questions are being asked of whether the Gruden era has been a failure and whether Gruden should be on the hot seat. In my opinion, so far, the answer to both is undoubtably yes.
Round 1, Pick 15, Kolton Miller, OT – He looked like a bust but has started to turn it around.
Round 2, Pick 25, P.J. Hall, DT - Cut after two seasons.
Round 5, Pick 3, Maurice Hurst, DT – A nice late round steal.
Free Agent, Darren Waller, TE - An amazing pick up which no one else in the NFL saw and he made the Pro Bowl this season.
Round 1, Pick 4, Clelin Ferrell, DE – He’s having a nice second year, but his rookie season was nothing to shout about.
Round 1, Pick 24, Josh Jacobs, RB – Jacobs was elite as a rookie but is having a sophomore slump this season. He’s averaging 3.8 yards per carry which is down from 4.8 in 2019. His yards per game have also fallen from 88.5 to 69.7. Nonetheless, Jacobs made the Pro Bowl this season.
Round 1, Pick 27, Jonathan Abram, S – Abram is very overrated, he may be a hard hitter which creates some nice highlight reels but he also misses a lot of tackles and is awful in coverage.
Round 2, Pick 8, Trayvon Mullen, CB – Mullen has struggled since entering the league.
Round 4, Pick 10, Maxx Crosby, DE – He had a very nice rookie season but has fallen off in his second year.
Round 1, Pick 12, Henry Ruggs, WR – 414 yards this season. He doesn’t look like he has much else than speed so far as a rookie. Jefferson, Lamb and Jeudy look far better.
Round 1, Pick 19, Damon Arnette, CB – Whilst he’s made some nice plays, overall, he has struggled as a rookie. 80% completion percentage allowed and a 107.4 quarterback rating.
3 years, 6 first round picks, 2 second round picks, only one Pro Bowl
The Infamous Trades
So far, Gruden and Mayock have failed at bringing in talent in my opinion. Sure, the Khalil Mack trade brought back 2 first-round-picks and Amari Cooper brought another, but they have not developed into anything close to the players the Raiders lost:
Amari Cooper – 40 games, 2,987 receiving yards, 74.7 yards per game, 19 TDs, 2 Pro Bowls.
2018 – 77.9 PFF rating
2019 - 84.2 PFF rating
2020 - 77.7 PFF rating
Jonathan Abram – 13 games, 2 INTs, 58 tackles, 3 TFLs, 76.7% completion and 110.6 passer rating allowed in 2020.
2019 – 38.7 PFF rating
2020 – 37.5 PFF rating – Worst amongst safeties in NFL
Khalil Mack – 45 games, 29 sacks, 28 TFL, 44 QB Hits, 14 Forced Fumbles, 103 Tackles, 1 All-Pro, 3 Pro Bowls.
2018 – 90.4 PFF Rating
2019 – 86.2 PFF Rating
2020 – 92.4 PFF Rating
Cole Kmet – 15 games, 202 yards.
2020 – 59.4 PFF Rating
Josh Jacobs – 27 games, 2,126 rushing yards, 17 TDs, 1 Pro Bowl.
2019 – 87.1 PFF Rating
2020 – 75.4 PFF Rating
Damon Arnette – 8 games, 293 yards allowed on 30 targets.
2020 – 43.5 PFF Rating
Bryan Edwards – 11 games, 9 catches, 142 yards.
2020 – 65.4 PFF Rating
So overall, in my opinion the Raiders would have been far better off keeping the future hall of famer Khalil Mack and star wide receiver Amari Cooper. While they drafted Jacobs, who looked like an elite running back in 2019, running backs are not hard commodities to find in the NFL, so whilst his worth amongst running backs might be relatively high his worth to the team as a whole is far lower compared to a wide receiver or edge rusher.
First year as the Head Coach, they traded away the talent they had so the record was understandable.
They were evidently better than 2018, the team was developing and they looked like they were on the upwards trajectory.
The raiders had huge promise coming into the season, they had a great free agency, what looked like a good draft and the roster and chemistry was starting to come together. However, they have been just as mediocre as 2019.
They were 6-3 to start the year and had many picking them are dark horses after the 40-32 win in Arrowhead, but since Week 10 the Raiders have lost 5 of 6 and would’ve lost 6 straight if it was for Greg William’s boneheaded zero blitz.
Gruden now has a worse record than Jack Del Rio or Tom Cable, who were the most recent Raiders head coaches that also lasted to the end of their 3rd year:
Del Rio: 25-23, 52.1%
Cable: 17-27, 38.6%
Gruden: 18-29, 38.3%
Del Rio and Cable were both fired at the end of their 3rd seasons as Head Coach, and that was with Del Rio leading the team in 2016 to their only play-off berth and winning season in 2002.
Further, there have been many head coaches in recent years who have had a lot less power and a lot less of the responsibility for the team’s poor performance who have also been fired:
Bill O’Brien*: 21-15 (last 3 seasons), 58.3% - Fired
Jason Garrett*: 27-21 (last 3 seasons), 56.3% - Fired
Ron Rivera*: 23-21 (last 3 seasons in Carolina), 52.3% - Fired
Dan Quinn*: 14-23 (last 3 seasons), 37.8% - Fired
Vance Joseph: 11-21, 34.4% - Fired
Matt Patricia: 13-29, 31.4% - Fired
Pat Shurmur: 9-23, 28.1% - Fired
Therefore, when you consider those who have had very similar if not better records than Gruden in their final three seasons with their respective teams but have been fired, it would indicate that he likewise should be fired if not at the very least be on a very hot seat.
What’s the problem?
Despite previous years, it cannot be argued that Derek Carr is the problem this season. Carr is having a fantastic year completing 67.6% of his passes, he’s thrown for 3,732 yards and 25 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions and ranks 10th amongst quarterbacks in PFF ratings and 11th in QBR.
Nonetheless, it still appears to me and many that Jon Gruden is not sold on his franchise quarterback, and Mariota’s recent performance won’t have helped.
Offense is not the Raiders problem they average 26.8 points a game and rank 10th in Total Offense with 377.9 yards. However, their defense ranks 24th in Total Defense, allowing 385.3 yards per game
24th in Total Defense, 385.3, and it’s not like it one aspect of defense, their pass defense ranks 25th, their run defense ranks 22nd and they rank 29th in sacks. One would think maybe Khalil Mack could help with some of those problems…
Further, their key free agency additions on defense, Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski haven’t quite turned out to be the linebacker duo the Raiders had hoped for.
2019 – 79.0 PFF Grade
2020 – 43.9 PFF Grade
2019 – 72.5 PFF Grade
2020 – 67.1 PFF Grade
Had the pair turned into the duo Raiders fans had hoped maybe we would be looking at whole different outlook on the Raiders season.
If Gruden fails to get the Raiders to the play-offs in 2021, then I believe Gruden should stand by his words in 2018, “If I can’t get it done, I’m not going to take their money.” (USA Today Interview, 2018). But if he does not then I believe ownership should begin to listen to the outside noise and look elsewhere for their future head coach.
There are plenty of potential suitors:
Robert Saleh – 49ers
Eric Bienemy – Chiefs
Joe Brady – Panthers
Josh McDaniels – Patriots
Byron Leftwich – Buccaneers
Lincoln Riley – Oklahoma
However, such potential head coach talent won’t last long on the market.
So, if I was the Raiders I would give Gruden one more season to make the post season, and hope Bienemy or Saleh are still available in 2022 if Gruden fails.
Image By: AP Photo Rich Pedroncelli