Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock is not running from expectations in 2021. This is why he declared, publicly and unprompted, that both he and head coach Jon Gruden have their sights set on the postseason.
Clear expectations for the Raiders
“We think we are going to be a pretty good football team. We are not hiding from expectations.”
Mayock spoke candidly about his views on the 2021 Raiders roster. Both he and Gruden have put together a roster composed of young guys, strong guys, smart guys, and good character guys. Mayock cited the lack of a training camp in 2020. Mentioning that while he wouldn’t use it as an excuse, the development of the draft picks and other young players were greatly inhibited by it.
“…Jon and I will both tell you that we feel like we need to be a playoff team this year. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that… I mean that’s what the expectation is. We think we’ve done the infrastructure work necessary to put us in position and we got to take care of business.“
Playoffs being the expectation and publicly stating them is a breath of fresh air. It’s much more appealing to the ear to hear we expect to make the playoffs, versus no excuses. Funny thing is, at this stage in the season, they carry an equal amount of weight. We’ve previously heard all of the same positive speak heading into 2019 and 2020. The franchise quarterback has said it, the marquee players, and the coaching staff. The truth of the matter is ‘potential means you haven’t done anything yet‘. At some point, you must deliver on potential or be cast aside.
Is Mayock on borrowed time?
Drafting and acquiring talent falls on the shoulders of most general managers, coaching staffs, scouting departments, and player personnel departments. Mayock may likely be on the hot seat. On the surface, the Raiders have been a unified front and fully supportive of each other. Spearheading three full drafts, including six first-round draft picks, Mayock has put his stamp on the roster.
Among those first-rounders are Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs, Johnathan Abram, Damon Arnette, and Alex Leatherwood. The issue is that only a few of them are starting. Jacobs is the gold star of the bunch and hopes are high for Leatherwood. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and his staff have been tasked with the responsibility of developing Abram, Ferrell, and Arnette into players worthy of a roster spot. Obviously, there have been a few glaring misses in terms of the allocation of draft capital.
Resting on his laurels, while the Raiders were 6-4 two seasons in a row while failing to make a roster move of significance is a problem. The general manager has to recognize when the team needs a shot in the arm and provide them with it. Especially when the playoffs are a very real possibility.
Gruden has a 10-year contract. Mayock is currently the odd man out should things not go according to plan. Paul Guenther was already replaced late last season. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson is safe and Gruden is sitting pretty no matter what. Raider Nation has been promised a turnaround in fortune, a changing of culture, and winning. Last year, no excuses quickly became: there are no excuses but…
Today, it’s we are not hiding from expectations. The Raiders have been given every tool in the arsenal needed to win. All that’s left is to take care of business.
*Top Photo: Lachlan Cunningham /Getty Images