When was the last time you remember a coach coming into a team and making it so unequivocally from top to bottom his own doing? Jon Gruden has come into power with the Oakland Raiders and has proceeded to make every decision based on his own gut feeling, naysayers be damned. It’s actually quite impressive, though also somewhat terrifying if his ideas don’t turn into W’s.
The thing about the 2nd era of Gruden that we are beginning this year is that he is making extremely high risk/high reward decisions without so much as a second thought. Another coach would have to wonder about the consequences of some of these decisions, but the truth is Gruden won’t really be facing any if these decisions don’t work out. Not with that contract anyway, he is going to be given all the chances he could ever wish for.
Whether it’s; taking on players in the draft with question marks like Arden Key or Mo Hurst, filling much of the roster with older veterans like Jordy Nelson, Leon Hall, and Derrick Johnson, or jettisoning one of the best punters in the league without so much as a conversation with him. Jon Gruden is doing anything and everything that he wants to do.
It’s having a 10-year, $100M contract that has given him this kind of power. Easily more power than any coach that has ever led the Silver and Black outside of Al Davis in fact, not even John Madden was so empowered. There is nobody to reel in Gruden, he is the undisputed master of the Raiders domain.
Had Gruden not gotten such an amazing commitment from the Raiders he might not be willing to go all in on his experiment as he is doing. Normally a coach in his first year on a new team is a little more reserved than this, but this is not a normal situation. Not with that organizational commitment, and being the dream coach for owner Mark Davis.
As a result this team is team set up to either dominate or crash and burn in epic style. Immediately upon building his vision and the average age of his offseason acquisitions, the media has gone at Gruden wondering openly if the game has passed him by.
His first draft was incredibly difficult to mock, his free agency has been just as surprising, and there is a lot of discomfort in the direction he is bringing the team among the media. Jon Gruden is out in the ocean right now, and we are all hoping that this ship he has built will stand the crashing waves that are going to come his way.
The thing is, I am all for this new Gruden era. Mark Davis offered the world to Gruden to get him out of the Monday Night Football booth, and now that he did we get to see how this all is going to work out. It’s as unique of a situation with the first year of a head coach’s tenure as we have ever seen.
Not all of these decisions on the outside looking in seem like hits, but either way the boldness of them is a welcome sight for the Silver and Black. Al Davis did not lead the Raiders to greatness by playing it safe, maybe throwing out the book and doing it your own way is exactly what the Raiders need to get back to that greatness.
Then again, what if it isn’t? What happens then? Round two of Gruden’s vision, of course. Because he is playing with all of the house’s money, he is going to get as many opportunities as he desires to make the team what he believes is needed for success. He gets to make the riskiest decisions because there is no real consequence for him personally outside of the team failing and there won’t be for some time.
It must feel amazing to be invincible like Gruden is right now. Let’s just hope his decision making deserves the freedom that he has been granted because if he has no limits and the game has passed him by then the Raiders are in deep trouble for the next decade. It’s scary to think of how bad it could go, but not as exhilarating as how great it would be if he hits on some of these decisions.
High risk, high reward after all and Jon Gruden is definitely playing for the highest reward of them all. Championships or this team will die trying. I couldn’t be more intrigued to watch it all unfold.