This isn’t how Jon Gruden envisioned his return to the NFL sidelines, how could it be? What was once a wave of excitement that became the story of the NFL offseason, has come crashing down culminating in several questionable personnel moves and a 1-5 record for the Silver & Black.
After getting blown out two consecutive weeks, there have been plenty of questions directed towards the team’s effort on the field, and whether they are giving up on the season.
“I’ll say this, we aren’t tanking anything,” Gruden told the media on Tuesday. “I hear the hatred out there, some of the rumors that we are tanking it to get a first round pick or a higher pick. We are not getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning to tank it. Ain’t nobody tanking it. I don’t know who wrote that or who said that or who thinks that, but that isn’t the case here. We are going to continue to work hard, continue to build our team and that was part of the message.”
At first glance, it is difficult to see Gruden purposely tank, especially with his reputation on the line. But a look at a few of his personnel decisions points to the notion that despite his denial, he gave up on 2018 before the first game even began.
Flashback to July when Gruden emphatically promised hundreds of fans at Ricky’s Sports Bar that the Raiders were going to “win now” for the City of Oakland, and that they were not going to trade Pro Bowl defensive end Khalil Mack.
Would a coach who planned all along to “win now” trade his best player (Mack), then reportedly put Amari Cooper, Karl Joseph, and even potentially Gareon Conley on the trade block as well?
Those players would certainly garner draft picks, but how does that improve the Raiders this season and help them “win now”.
“We have a good nucleus of people here,” Gruden said. “I’ll just let the Raider fans know out there, we’re not very good in the win-loss column and I don’t know how it’s going to go for the next 10 weeks, but we’re working hard. We have a good group of guys and they’re going to be fun to watch.”
It’s a good thing Gruden is having fun watching them, because Raider fans most certainly are not.