Jon Gruden arrived back as head coach of the Raiders to some fanfare three years ago, to say the least. A 10-year contract he got showed he’d be given time to bring the “Silver and Black” back to prominence. A 4-12 first season in 2018 was followed by a 7-9 mark in 2019.
The Raiders were in playoff contention this year until a Week 16 loss to the Miami Dolphins. If they lose to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, they’ll finish 7-9 again. That would make them 18-30 in Gruden’s three seasons, and it’s not as if 19-29 looks better if they end the season with a win.
In the wake of a Week 14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Paul Guenther was fired as Raiders’ defensive coordinator. At least one interesting candidate will possibly be in the mix for that job.
According to Pro Football Talk, people around the league are watching for some other shoes to drop around the Raiders’ organization.
“Win or lose today, the late-season firing of defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has others around the league monitoring the Raiders situation to see whether other Raiders employees on the coaching staff or in the front office will be fired after the season ends. Without naming names (do we need to?), pretty much anyone and everyone could be in position to be replaced, as Gruden apparently looks for a way to shift blame from himself to others.”
After Gruden’s first season back, Mike Mayock left NFL Network to become the Raiders’ general manager. The hire had to come with Gruden’s stamp of approval, given the length of his contract. There are no outward signs the two don’t operate on the same page, but Mayock is probably the No. 1 scapegoat Gruden will point to.
Jon Gruden Has Enviable Job Security
The reported $100 million in Gruden’s 10-year contract may not all be guaranteed. But it’s impossible to know how much he has already been paid. Or what portion is left. Or how much of that money he’s guaranteed to see, whether he fulfills 10 years or not.
Raiders’ owner Mark Davis is cut from a different cloth than his father Al, who authored the famous phrase “Just Win, Baby.”
In search of buzz ahead the franchise’s (then-looming) move to Las Vegas, Mark Davis became enamored with having Gruden back as the Raiders head coach. Three seasons being no better than .500 (pending Sunday’s result) will surely still take a backseat to the cache Gruden carries. If the Raiders lose Sunday, Gruden will fall to two games above .500 in the regular season (113-111 record). Cache and perception only goes so far when it gets down to it and you’re basically a .500 coach.
So, how much longer will Gruden avoid accountability if the Raiders struggle? The answer probably is as long as he wants his job, and Davis continues to be a blind believer (financial implications aside). No one in their right mind is turning down whatever part of $100 million Gruden has left to get. But maybe Davis eventually removes the wool from his eyes, and asks why results haven’t come if things don’t change. So Gruden will control the Raiders’ organizational orbit until further notice, for better or worse. As for results, they’re lined up to keep falling short of even the flimsiest expectations under Gruden.