Gruden's 'dream' hire by Davis turns into a nightmare for the Raiders

Jon Gruden was welcomed back to the Raiders in 2018 by a pep rally news conference. Mark Davis, the Raiders owner, called it a "dream come True" and the "biggest Day of his Life."

Gruden's 'dream' hire by Davis turns into a nightmare for the Raiders

The coach's sudden departure was less dramatic than the usual pomp and circumstance. Davis sent out a simple statement, "I have accepted Jon Gruden’s resignation as Head Coach for the Las Vegas Raiders."

Gruden was deemed done by the emails he had sent years prior to rejoining the Raiders, which the Wall Street Journal reported contained racist, homophobic, and misogynistic comments. However, his performance on the field did not live up to the expectations of Davis, who spent years searching for the coach of his dreams.

In three seasons, the Raiders' record was 22-31 under Gruden. They ranked 22nd in winning percentage and last in points allowed. Gruden's poor personnel decisions ultimately cost him his coaching record.

An organization that prides its history of inclusion, including refusing to play an exhibition match in the South in the 1960s, hiring Tom Flores as a second Mexican-American coach and Art Shell becoming the first Black coach in modern NFL, was also shamed by the email revelations.

After longing to meet Gruden since he took over the Raiders in 2011, after his father Al Davis died, Davis didn't sign up for that. Mark Davis visited Tampa, Florida several times over the years to talk to Gruden about the Raiders, and to gauge his interest in returning to the broadcast booth.

In 2017, he finally found the answer to his prayers, leading Davis to fire Jack Del Rio, who led the Raiders' only playoff berth in their past 18 seasons and was the Raiders' only coach to win a winning record since Gruden was traded from Tampa Bay in 2001 after making the Raiders a contender.

Gruden's second tenure was not as successful as his first. Gruden, who was the offensive guru and "Chucky", took the Raiders to AFC title in their third season. They also reached the playoffs the next year. But they lost in New England's "Tuck Rule".

Gruden was traded from Tampa Bay to Tampa Bay for a boatload draft picks, cash, and then beat the Raiders at the Super Bowl in 2002.

He was unsuccessful in turning the Raiders into a serious contender his second time around as a coach, and he didn't win another playoff game in his 10 seasons of coaching.

Gruden was armed with a 10-year contract, and complete control over personnel. Gruden chose to revamp the roster instead of retooling it with the Raiders just a year after a 12-win season.

Before the start of his rookie season, he traded Khalil Mack, the team's top edge rusher, for a package that contained two first-round draft selections. Midway through the season, he traded Amari Cooper, the Raiders' star receiver, for another first-round draft pick.

Gruden's second term was defined by the offseason that followed, when he failed to make a push for contention in the Raiders' last season in Oakland. He gave big contracts to Tyrell Williams, Lamarcus Joyner, and Trent Brown as free agents, but they got very little production. His most notable move was his trade for Antonio Brown, temperamental receiver. Brown's erratic behavior caused him to be released before he even played a single game.

Gruden also failed the three picks in the first round that were expected to be the foundation of the franchise's future. No. Clelin Ferrell, the 4th overall pick, is being relegated this season to backup duty. 23 pick Josh Jacobs, and No. 27 selection Johnathan Abram are yet to make an impact.

As Gruden failed to deliver success to his fans in Oakland, who were captivated by him every day after he left for the first time, 2019 saw a 7-9 season.

In Las Vegas, there were some signs of improvement in the first season. Derek Carr, the quarterback, made a significant step in his third year. The offense was also one of the best in the league. Gruden's decision not to hire Paul Guenther, the poor moves in free agent and the draft, left the Raiders with one the worst NFL defenses and just three games away from a playoff spot at 8-8.

Gruden was a whack-amole in this offseason. He traded away three veterans offensive linemen to make salary cap space to build up the defense under Gus Bradley.

These decisions were promising in a 3-0 starting, but poor offensive line play resulted in back-to-back double digit losses for Gruden's last two games. It is now questionable if Rich Bisaccia, interim coach, can get the team on track.

Gruden's time as a Raiders coach will not be wasted if he succeeds. It will not be any different from the nine other coaches who ran the Raiders between Gruden and his tenures, when the Raiders were often at the bottom of the standings every year. Even worse, this coaching stint ended in worse fashion.

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