Gruden: Nostalgia vs. Actuality For Raiders

Jon Gruden’s possible return to the Raiders resurrects a lot of emotions for the majority of Raider Nation. Gruden’s first tenure in Oakland was a success, in four seasons he never had a losing record and made the playoffs twice.

He groomed Rich Gannon from an NFL journeyman quarterback into an MVP caliber player. Gruden’s demeanor also matched that of the fan base; he was a wild and theatrical man that wore a devilish grin and paced the sidelines with the intimidation of a cage fighter. His iconic snarling-grin coined him the “Chucky” comparisons from the scary doll character in the hit horror film series. It’s comparable to Halloween every time at a Raider game and “Chucky” fit that script perfectly while establishing a winning culture.

If Gruden is hired, what can we expect? The biggest difference from his first tenure will undoubtedly be the missing presence of the late great Al Davis. The Raiders organizationally now has a working general manager that employs a scouting department and keeps Al’s son, Mark Davis, much less involved in personnel decisions, as it should be.

The strategies in drafting, contracts, free agency, and trades were all heavily controlled by Al during Gruden’s first tenure, this was never a secret. Their relationship had mutual respect but also had unsettling tension at times. This is something that might be welcomed with comfort for Gruden as he can now work with general manager Reggie McKenzie in a more openly accepted manner. The organizational structure is appealing now.

State of the Raiders Roster

The roster is very intriguing and relatively young. Gruden had an extremely veteran savvy team during his first stint and now he gets to polish younger players with big potentials into the future. Quarterback Derek Carr is a player that Gruden admires and he will get to work with him potentially for a long time and will try to find his success together through him.

Gruden has to see the similarities in Amari Cooper to that of former Raider and NFL Hall of Famer Tim Brown, whom Gruden coached.  Personally, I like that comparison and the opportunity for maximizing Cooper’s success as well.

Then on the defensive side of the ball, Gruden has to employ a defensive coaching staff to build around one of the best defenders in the entire NFL, Khalil Mack. It’s highly probablef that Gruden’s name and reputation around the league will attract some of the best-supporting staff we’ve seen in Oakland to come to his aide. This will be absolutely pivotal for the young core to find consistent sustained growth and success while attracting free agents.

How The West Might Be Won

The AFC West is free to dominate for years to come as L.A. Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers closes in on retirement, the Denver Broncos without a franchise quarterback and Alex Smith has a younger option waiting to take over in Kansas City. If Gruden can get Carr and this offense producing to it’s potential while improving the defense then this is an ideal division for Gruden to see sustained success and eventually as the team relocates to Las Vegas. Get ready Raider Nation if the “Chucky-era” is about to pick-up where it left off, this could be the best thing to happen to the franchise in the modern era.

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