When the Raiders released punter Marquette King on Friday, a shockwave of surprise swept through the fanbase. Yet, this move runs along the same path as others in the second go-round for Jon Gruden. As these moves continue, the fanbase remains decidedly split as to the purpose and timing.
In a little over a year, Jack Del Rio devolved from the swashbuckling risk-taker to the meek coach with an extension. On the other hand, Gruden will attack the first day of year one like the final day of year ten. Gruden does not need to worry about an extension. As a result, his coaching style and approach will not waver. Del Rio played word games with “mojo”. Gruden attacks the job
The Culture Shift
The moment Jon Gruden walked into the introductory press conference, the fate of the Raiders changed immediately.
- The moment that Michael Crabtree swung on Aqib Talib for a second time and pulled himself out of a late season game, he sealed his own fate. If there is one thing that Gruden will not tolerate is a rogue receiver. During his Tampa tenure, Gruden deactivated Keyshawn Johnson in November 2003, a year after the Bucs destroyed the Raiders. Gruden replaced Crabtree with Jordy Nelson, an older but quieter wideout. At the same time, the question remains if Derek Carr and Nelson can build that on-field chemistry like enjoyed with Crabtree.
- Mark Davis clearly said that Reggie McKenzie’s job is to give Gruden the players he wants. In that case, McKenzie ceased being Gruden’s boss, more like a partner. Armed with a one hundred million-dollar deal makes Gruden impossible to fire. In that case, McKenzie dispatched Condo, Crabtree, King, Newhouse, Smith, Walford, and Amerson via release. Additionally, he found new homes for Patterson and Olawale. None of those players fit Gruden’s vision. Instead of McKenzie keeping a few, they are all former Raiders. What Gruden wants, he gets.
Why would the Raiders/Gruden cut King and keep Marshawn Lynch, who many argue, distracts from the team with his antics?
Jon Gruden is not dumb. He knows the value of a workhorse back, compared those of a punter that touches the ball seventy times on punts and another fifty as holder. Although King remains a top-three punter, Lynch wears down defense and score. On the other hand, as this tweet eloquently states. In addition, King’s shakiness as a holder did catch Gruden’s eye. For a detail
Really, no one. The Raiders announced Bruce Irvin would shift to end, so his 2018 plans are set. From all indications, the Raiders probably will not part ways with any other star players. The departures of King, Crabtree, et al, set the tone. No Del Rio era foolishness would be tolerated. Pro Bowl player or not. While I do not agree with a couple of the releases, you must respect the fact that Gruden and McKenzie are willing to take serious risks in casting away talent. In 2019, Bruce Irvin will cost 9.25 million to keep. For now, he appears safe.
With Gruden and McKenzie’s on-the-fly roster/culture remodel, comes the expedited timetable. That is to say, there is no honeymoon period. The Raiders will not enjoy a grace period. That fanbase demand winning with a yearly playoff run. Jon Gruden is in full control of that locker room, even before the season starts. Under those circumstances, expectations for the Raiders should be sky high. No excuses. Jon Gruden is the king of RaiderNation. However, remember the saying ” heavy is the head that wears the crown”.