When the NFL saw that Mark Davis wasn’t moving forward in disciplining his embattled coach Jon Gruden, the league turned up the heat on Monday. After more controversial emails emerged, Gruden had no choice but to resign — Davis would have had to fire him if not. Really, this was only way Gruden would ever leave the Raiders: by undermining himself. Davis gave Gruden the keys to the franchise in 2018 and he lost them in a deluge of poor decisions.
There was no coming back from this for Gruden, who reportedly sent racist tropes and homophobic remarks (among other deeply disturbing opinions and offensive comments) in numerous emails over the course of eight years.
The Raiders’ organization is been no stranger to turmoil and coaching upheaval, but this is the biggest bombshell in team history. In fact, the NFL has rarely seen an in-season coaching change of this magnitude.
Gruden enjoyed a hero’s return when Davis coaxed him out of the comfy broadcast booth in 2018 to the tune of an historic 10-year, $100 million contract. Gruden vowed to bring a championship to the franchise and the fans are still waiting.
Now, he leaves in complete disgrace. Gruden will likely never work in the NFL again. His career may be over at age 58.
But what about the franchise?
Well, of course, it will survive. Sure, it takes the shine off the Raiders’ first seasons in Las Vegas and their beautiful Allegiant Stadium ... but that can be overcome.
The team will muddle through the final 12 games of the season after their 3-0 start. The Raiders are currently 3-2 and if the shellshocked remaining staff and players can circle the wagons, they can compete for a playoff berth.
The formula for the team will remain the same under reported interim coach Rich Bisaccia. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson will take Gruden’s role, as play caller and the defense will remain the same under coordinator Gus Bradley. Quarterback Derek Carr has a solid relationship with Olson.
They will get by for the rest of the season and perhaps it will be refreshing not to be under the sometimes exhausting guidance of the larger-than-life Gruden. But longterm, there will be questions for Davis — who is now free of the rest of Gruden’s enormous contract that frankly, he wasn’t deserving. Gruden leaves with a 22-31 record and no postseason berths.
It will be a wild offseason in Las Vegas, that’s for sure.
Attention will turn to see if general manager Mike Mayock is kept on to help hire the next full-time coach. Will the new coach want Carr, who will be in yet another system in 2022 regardless of where he will be playing? Will Bradley, an early-season success, be in the plans for the new head coach?
All of these questions will be answered in due time. But one thing is for certain, there will be change amid unexpected circumstances in the Las Vegas desert this offseason.
This was supposed to be a year where Gruden had to deliver the playoffs. Now, he is ousted and the franchise has to find a way to recover.