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Silver Minings: Raiders under most pressure to make playoffs

This will be Jon Gruden’s fourth season as the head coach

Miami Dolphins v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Has the Jon Gruden experiment been a good one so far? Well, the Las Vegas Raiders have improved on their record every year under him. The only down side? They have yet to reach the playoffs.

Bleacher Report ranked five teams who are under the most pressure to reach the playoffs in 2021, with the Raiders being one of them. As they mention in the article, the Raiders have recently played their worst football when it mattered most. Over their last two seasons, Vegas is 3-7 in games in December and January. When they’ve been fighting for a playoff spot, they’ve blown their chances.

“If Gruden’s seat ever gets warm, he just chucks it out the window and gets another one,” Tafur wrote. “There are a couple of scapegoats already lined up for next season if the Raiders don’t improve on 8-8.”

Gruden could assign the blame to two possible “fall guys.” He can take a critical look at general manager Mike Mayock’s recent first-round picks who haven’t played up to expectations, such as defensive end Clelin Ferrell and safety Johnathan Abram. Last year, the Raiders’ 2020 first-round picks, wideout Henry Ruggs III and cornerback Damon Arnette, also had disappointing campaigns.

In the event that the Raiders passing offense takes a step back, Gruden may consider acquiring another veteran quarterback as an upgrade over Derek Carr, who’s made strides every year but still has some fumbling issues with limited touchdown production. Owner Mark Davis has a great amount of respect for Gruden, who led the Raiders to the postseason twice in his first stint, but he cannot allow nostalgia to cloud his assessment of Gruden as the team’s chief decision-maker.

Instead of a scapegoat, Gruden would need to take a look at himself after another disappointing season. If he doesn’t, Davis must have an honest discussion with him about the team’s direction.

Gruden signed a mega-deal with the Raiders, so obviously you can’t give up on him this shortly into the contract. However, as each year passes, his leash will get a little shorter. This will be the fourth year, and it’s gotta be “make it or break it” time for the Raiders. They play in a pretty tough division, but there are no excuses to not make the playoffs this year.

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