“I think you should fire Anthony Gardner… to consolidate power.” This quote from The Office has Dwight Schrute talking to his manager, Michael Scott about firing one of his new employees on their first day of work. Nevertheless, for the Raiders, it appears that Jon Gruden is both Michael and Dwight. Dwight represents the inner thoughts of Gruden while Michael represents his actions.
Gruden’s first consolidation of power was his release of Marquette King. King was reportedly a “locker room distraction” but was also one of the best punters in the league. In this situation, Gruden felt the bad was too close to outweighing the good for King to be kept around. While only some will miss his antics, all will miss his beautiful punts.
The largest consolidation of power came the weekend of September 1st when Gruden traded Khalil Mack and a second-round pick to the Bears for a handful of picks (2 first round, 1 third, and 1 sixth) mid-holdout. While the outcome from the trade was abysmal at best, there is more the fans can take from this. The situation shows Gruden has power. Also, with reports circling about Gruden being more open to the idea than anyone in the front office, Reggie McKenzie has come out to say that “everyone was on board” with keeping Mack, but, “it just wasn’t going to work at the time” money-wise. Reggie has also spoke on signing free agents, that they will “still pay top dollar” for big name free agents. Why not pay the player he already has?
Gruden must play a pivotal role in cuts and signing, as he knows the players better than anyone else does. Therefore, on cut-down day, Gruden cut both backup quarterbacks (Cook, Manuel) and signed AJ McCarron. Despite not having much chance to prove himself, Connor Cook had some impressive moments this preseason. EJ Manuel, a much more proven quarterback, also impressed this preseason and led the Raiders to a fourth-quarter comeback. Gruden also cut up and coming wide receiver Martavis Bryant, although this may be due to his looming suspension. With many of these moves coming in such short time, Jon Gruden is quickly making this team his own.
While college coaches may have to wait a few years due to recruiting to make a team his own, this has not been the case for this NFL coach. Jon Gruden has made this team his own before he coached a regular-season game. Jon Gruden has molded the team into his ideal team the best he could. However, do not give up on this team or this coach yet. Since no one from this 2018 team played with the Raiders in 2001, no one on this team had been coached by Jon Gruden. Although the mind of Gruden owns many names, fans from previous years, or those like myself who idolized his “Gruden’s Grinder” segment on Monday Night Football, must admit he owns a “football mind”.
Despite the defensive positional hole that may never fill, Jon Gruden looks poised to win for many years to come and despite his unfavorable roster moves; Gruden has signed many favorable players. He has strengthened our defensive backs (especially when Conley starts this year) and helped draft Kolton Miller, which some fans also did not initially appreciate. Jon Gruden also has experience as a Raiders head coach. In his first stint, Gruden took a 4-12 team and had them playing for a Super Bowl in four years. Due to his previous experiences, Jon Gruden has earned at least a few games as head coach.