The Las Vegas Raiders will continue to do things their way whether any of us like or understand their methods.
The Raiders have always done things their way since Al Davis made his way into the organization back in the early 1960s. A true maverick that only cared about winning, he turned the team into one of the most important American professional sports organizations. Most fans fondly remember the barriers that their team broke. Hiring Tom Flores, Art Shell, and Amy Trask were all historically important. However, by the late 1990s, the Raiders were struggling to remain relevant. This was until Davis gave a young offensive assistant an opportunity as head coach. That same assistant led the team back to the playoffs and now, finds himself trying to repeat that, obviously we’re referring to Jon Gruden.
The way that Gruden and Mike Mayock, who joined him in 2018, have gone about building this team has confused many. Gruden inherited a team that was only one year removed from the playoffs in 2016 but tore it down. Fans will never forgive Gruden and the team’s brass for trading away Khalil Mack, arguably the best individual Raiders player of this century. Since then, the duo has done its best to rebuild through the NFL draft. Unfortunately, their selections have been ruthlessly second-guessed. Considering the results, some of that criticism is warranted.
Have the Raiders improved under Gruden and Mayock?
Most recently, the team was lambasted when they chose Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood at number 17. However, Mayock has publicly defended the selection. He’s even alluded to the fact that the media is to blame for a lot of the negativity. This duo believes in what they’re doing, whether the media supports them or not, it hasn’t swayed them so far. This organization does what it wants, regardless if it’s a popular decision.
Kaelen Jones of The Ringer recently revisited several decisions that the Gruden-Mayock duo has made. Essentially doing this to try and come up with a verdict on whether these guys know what they’re doing or not. Parting ways with punter Marquette King for example might’ve been unpopular but considering he hasn’t landed anywhere should speak volumes.
Looking back at a series of blunders
Unfortunately, there were a plethora of moves that have backfired during this administration. Trading for Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown, trading away Mack then Amari Cooper were all considered moves that backfired. Trent Brown’s acquisition also made the list as another move that backfired. To be fair though, no one could’ve foreseen Brown’s injuries. Prying tight end Darren Waller from the Baltimore Ravens practice squad has gotten Gruden and Mayock some slack though.
The questionable draft choices are what appear to be hindering Gruden and Mayock, especially on defense. This might’ve finally been remedied by bringing in Gus Bradley to replace Paul Guenther. Jones believes that both of the two previous draft and free-agent classes are head-scratchers at best. Yes, head-scratchers to those outside of the Raiders it would seem. In the end, Gruden and Mayock are sticking to their guns, we will have to wait and see how the 2021 season pans out. At that point, maybe we can finally start to see if these two truly know what they’re doing.
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*Top Photo: Jeff Chiu/Associated Press