clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Despite Jon Gruden poor personnel track record he placed blame on Reggie McKenzie for Raiders awful offseason

New, comments

Oakland Raiders Jon Gruden strikes again on personnel moves and finds a way to blame general manager Reggie McKenzie for it.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Few have questioned how good of a coach Jon Gruden still is. But how bad of a general manager he still is can’t be stressed enough. But somehow, owner Mark Davis gave Gruden personnel authority over 2016 NFL Executive of the Year Reggie McKenzie.

Just go back to Gruden’s days in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to show just how bad a GM he was. From 2004 to 2007, Gruden didn’t hit on a single early draft pick until he picked cornerback Aqib Talib in Round 1 in 2008. In the midst of that the quarterback guru passed on Aaron Rodgers in 2005 in favor of running back Cadillac Williams. He didn’t draft any better than Al Davis at the end of his life so he finally got fired after the 2008 season.

So it is no wonder why he wanted the Raiders to take Johnny Manziel over Derek Carr in 2014. Not being able to find a guy that plays the position you’re so good at coaching should disqualify anyone from dipping into personnel decisions. Gruden is emotional as a coach so he’s definitely too emotional to be a GM.

Emotion is probably what led to him signing running back Doug Martin after being impressed by a conversation with him. Martin has averaged 2.9 yards per carry over the last two years and yet a conversation had him a lock to make the roster since shortly after he arrived.

It looks like that same emotion made Gruden trade superstar Khalil Mack for not bowing down to him as soon as he got hired. He seemed unable to handle Mack giving him the cold shoulder as a negotiation tactic while the city of Oakland and Mack’s former teammates loved on him.

There was no real reason to hurry a trade of that magnitude up the way Gruden did. The Raiders could have simply waited for him to report then franchise him twice, taking him to age 30, if need be. They would have had a 3-year window to try to win a Super Bowl with him and once he’s 30, no one would be knocking down the door to give him a record-breaking deal so the Raiders probably could have signed him again after that.

Taking two 1st-round picks for Mack tells everyone he’s planning for the future, not trying to win one while still in Oakland. The move wasn’t even the best it could have been for the future, giving up a 2nd-round pick. Then of course, he put all the blame on McKenzie for it.

“I really wasn’t involved in all of that, so you’d have to ask Reggie to be honest with you,” he said Sunday.

Raider Nation knows McKenzie loves draft picks and didn’t want to give up his best homegrown talent. This is the work of an emotional person that thinks the situation is “a grueling process.” McKenzie is patient, not an amateur so there’s no way he doesn’t get more for Mack and that’s assuming the unlikely scenario of McKenzie trading his star pass rusher.

By the way, why would Gruden call the standoff “a grueling process” if he wasn’t involved?

The aforementioned Martin is getting $1.5 million to back up Marshawn Lynch. Linebacker Tahir Whitehead, can’t rush the passer or cover but he’s getting $6.4 million. With Arden Key in town, Bruce Irvin could have stayed at outside linebacker, where he was a Top-100 football player. Cover LB Derek Johnson is getting $2.25 million at age 35 while Marquel Lee looked good in doing it all this preseason. Safety Reggie Nelson is done and getting $2.5 million while Marcus Gilchrist is getting $4.5 million to start over Karl Joseph. Joseph is still developing after playing out of position but still had a better PFF grade in 2017 (67.7) than Grilchrist (64.5).

And Gruden justified his oldest roster in the NFL and the gutting of McKenzie’s draft picks from the roster by throwing McKenzie under an 18-wheeler instead of a bus.

“Obviously the last three draft classes, we haven’t gotten a lot of production out of yet. I don’t think there’s anybody left from the ’13 Draft. But ’15, ’16, ’17, not much production at all,” said Gruden of McKenzie’s drafts. “With that being said, you have to fill holes. Sometimes you have to fill those holes in free agency. Some of the guys that are free agents are a little bit older.”

But the vets he brought in are no better than the picks the Gruden spoke of and he spent $17.4 million on Martin, Whitehead, Nelson, Johnson and Gilchrist. There would have been enough cap space to sign Mack if Gruden hadn’t signed them.

Ask any GM in the NFL if they would trade all those guys for a generational talent like Mack and the money he’s being paid and what do you think the answer is?

Gruden just did the opposite. He also managed to somehow bring up McKenzie’s failed second round picks as justification that throwing away a third round pick for Martavis Bryant was no big deal.

“The guy has great talent,” Gruden said of Bryant, right after saying Bryant was outplayed by undrafted Keon Hatcher. “We released our second-round draft choice last year and the year before and the year before that. Not everything is a perfect science, but we’ll be criticized for that. It was a risk I thought well worth taking.”

Then he cuts QB EJ Manuel, who played well in the final preseason game, and signed AJ McCarron. I’m not calling Manuel Nick Foles but McCarron can’t be a backup QB at Alabama now. Manuel’s passer rating was 120.9 this preseason while McCarron’s was 67.4. Nevermind the fact the Manuel has been in camp and knows the system. Gruden’s answer to that question? “Hopefully, Derek [Carr] stays healthy.”

It’s funny how Gruden was more than happy to jump on a talented team McKenzie built after a bad year. Davis did say he’s been trying to get him for six years so something had to be there but suddenly the group he inherited isn’t good enough. Gruden might still be a great coach but he’s still a bad GM and throwing Reggie McKenzie under the bus isn’t going to change that.

You’re not buying it, are you?