Raiders HC Jon Gruden Needs To Win Big In Year 3

In his previous coaching stints, year three is when it all comes together for Jon Gruden. He won the division and made the playoffs in both of his previous rebuilds in Oakland and Tampa Bay.

Gruden’s received nearly a free pass for consecutive losing seasons despite being the highest paid coach in the league. He’s enjoyed relatively low expectations due to the rebuilding the Raiders have gone through over the past two years.

Gruden is going to have to start producing and he should know it. Patience can only last for so long. To his advantage, Gruden’s third season on the job is the one that sees a return on investment.

Third Year Is The Charm

During his first stint with the Raiders, Gruden led the Raiders to a 12-4 record, a division crown, and the conference championship. Had Tony Siragusa not taken a cheap shot on Rich Gannon and separated his shoulder, the Raiders could have gone to the Super Bowl.

Later in his career and three seasons after winning the Super Bowl “with Tony Dungy’s team,” Gruden’s Buccaneers went 11-5 and won the NFC South.

Potential Top 5 Offense

After a couple solid drafts and free agent additions this past offseason, Gruden is finally in position to have success. His players believe the talent they have on the roster is good enough to be a top tier offense. Tight end Darren Waller said in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio that the Raiders could have a top five offense.

“If you look at things across the board, starting with the offensive line and the quarterback, with improvement at the receiver positions and the tight ends trying to be consistent, I think our offense has a chance to do a lot of great things and put up a lot of great numbers. The big thing for us is finishing in the red zone this year. I know that we’re doing everything in our power to improve upon that. I don’t feel like having a top five offense is out of the picture.”

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Veteran Quarterback

Gruden has a veteran quarterback, one he has backed every second he’s been with the team. Despite the media and fan’s calls for his head, Derek Carr has continued to receive the support of the Raiders front office. Even though Gruden has been rumored to love every quarterback in the draft, he hasn’t drafted one in three years.

Whenever the Raiders take the field in Fabulous Las Vegas, Carr will have the best offensive talent around him he’s ever had. Gruden and Carr will have been together in the same system for the third consecutive year, and should have no excuses.

Everyone Loves A Backup Quarterback

For the first time since 1980 and 1983, the Raiders have a backup quarterback that can come in and pick up where the starter left off: Marcus Mariota. Having lost the confidence of the organization that drafted him, Mariota is in a great spot in Las Vegas. His contract is heavily incentivized, which should motivate him to do everything possible to steal Carr’s job.

Mariota has experience winning in Arrowhead, he has beaten them in the playoffs as well. Two things Carr has never done. Mariota will run with the football, if provided with time, he has a home run arm with a closing pitcher’s accuracy. What he lacked in Tennessee was playmaking wide receivers. What he had was a stable of elite ball carriers.

A Crowded Backfield

Gruden has stacked this team to be practically idiot proof. Should his passing game falter on him, the Raiders running backs are more than capable of carrying the load.

Josh Jacobs was a Rookie of the Year contender despite the fact an injury cut his season short. Behind the massive offensive line, the Alabama product amassed 1,150 rushing yards, and seven touchdowns in 13 games. Now, everyone expects Jacobs to be back and better than ever. However, he was never “the guy” at the University of Alabama. In his first year in the league, Jacobs didn’t hold up physically, and in his absence, the Raiders rushing attack fell flat.

In the offseason, the Raiders signed former Broncos running back free agent Devontae Booker. The Utah product is a strong and fast runner. Nevertheless, he’s struggled with ball security. He averaged 5.4 and 4.5 yards per carry the last two seasons as a complementary back.

In the third round of the 2020 draft, the Raiders selected Lynn Bowden Jr. Bowden. Primarily a running back, he also started at wide receiver and played some read option quarterback his final season at the University of Kentucky. He ran against a lot of eight-man boxes in the SEC East division. Bowden tallied 1,468 yards and 13 touchdown in 185 carries, averaging an incredible 7.9 yards per carry. Also, he led his team in receptions with 30, receiving yards with 348, and caught one pass for a touchdown.

Now or Never?

Gruden has everything he needs to succeed in 2020. A plethora of sure handed quick twitch wide receivers capable of winning routes early and getting to their spots in the west coast offense. His tight end was one of the league’s best last season, and he added a future Hall of Famer in Jason Witten.

On defense, he has playmakers and a bunch of first round talents across the board. Hopefully, the missing pieces were the linebackers he added via free agency and the defensive backs he’s got in the last two drafts. There really are no excuses for the losing to continue. Gruden must win or his seat needs to get white hot.

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Top Photo: Brian Bahr/Getty Images

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