Plenty of names are going to be—and have been—tossed around regarding the Las Vegas Raiders’ search for a new head coach. In fact, the last person who held the full-time job is reportedly a candidate; Jon Gruden.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Hondo Carpenter, Raiders owner Mark Davis would jump at the opportunity to re-hire Gruden if the NFL would allow it.
“I am going to tell you there are a lot of people who feel that Mark Davis ... the person he trusts the most [in the NFL] is Jon Gruden and would love to bring him back,” Carpenter said on the ‘Las Vegas Raiders Insider Podcast.’ “I am hearing from multiple people around the league that if Jon [is] willing to drop his lawsuit [against the league], they believe the NFL would give a passive nod to go back and re-hire him… everyone keeps talking about Jon Gruden.”
In my opinion, that has the makings of a terrible decision, and below are a few reasons why.
While Gruden is a good coach, he’s a terrible talent evaluator/general manager. That was a problem toward the end of his tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when he was given the power to hire Bruce Allen as the team’s general manager.
During ‘Chucky’s’ second stint with the Silver and Black, he made a similar mistake by taking full control of the roster and picking Mike Mayock as his GM. Mayock admitted he answered to Gruden and it was always rumored that the coach made the final call on the team’s early-round draft picks. During that time, the Raiders became known for drafting first-round busts like Clelin Ferrell, Alex Leatherwood, Damon Arnette and Henry Ruggs, among others.
So, why would this time be any different? If Gruden takes over as head coach, he’s going to want full autonomy when it comes to the roster as well.
Also, Las Vegas has tried the model where the head coach and general manager are connected at the hip, and the former gets the final say, in back-to-back hiring cycles and both have failed. Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels were long-time friends and that, obviously, didn’t work.
It’s time to try a different strategy and at least let the general manager lead the charge when it comes to personnel decisions.
As the post/tweet from Bleacher Report’s Moe Moton points out, Gruden was terrible down the stretch of the season. While the 2018 season was a complete bust with just four total wins, the 2019 team was 6-4 with a chance to make the playoffs before losing five of its last six games. The next year was basically the same as Las Vegas won six out of the first nine contests, only to lose five of the last seven and miss out on the postseason again.
What’s even more damning for Gruden is how the 2021 campaign ended. That season, he infamously resigned in October due to the notorious email scandal and the Raiders finally finished strong. They won five out of their last seven games, including four in a row to finish the year and make the playoffs.
55 coaches since merger have had 35+ regular season games in December and January. Jon Gruden’s .388 win percentage ranks 54th (ahead of only Herm Edwards’ .350) https://t.co/a28gljxOJp— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) November 30, 2023
No Longer Offensive Guru
A big reason why Gruden has been a coveted head coach candidate throughout his career is he’s been considered an “offensive guru”. However, that’s not really the case anymore.
In the four seasons during his second stint with the Raiders, the team only ranked in the top half of the league for points scored once. They ranked 28th, 24th, 10th and 18th, respectively, as the game has passed the 60-year-old former coach by to a certain degree.
Gruden might still be a decent play-caller and offensive mind, but there will be plenty of other young candidates who have a better track record over the last few years.