On January 6, 2018, Jon Gruden returned to the Raiders. After two losing seasons, high turnover, and roster renovation, Gruden finds him at one of probably several key points in his second tenure. With the Raiders expected to open the Vegas chapter of their existence in the fall, all eyes set upon the coach. As a result, questions and comments mount, regarding Jon Gruden’s legacy as an NFL coach mount.
Is the Tampa criticism fair?
For most of his post-Super Bowl career, critics used Gruden’s inheritance of Tony Dungy’s players. To be fair, that thought only rings partially true. In the year before Gruden arrived, the Bucs finished 9-7. More importantly, the offense ranked fifteenth in points and twenty-sixth in yards. Brad Johnson completed 60.8 percent of his passes, accumulating 13/12 touchdowns to interceptions. Now, after he arrived, Tampa also brought in Keenan McCardell and Michael Pittman. Brad Johnson improved his completion percentage to 62.3, including nearly doubling his touchdown passes (25). On the other hand, Gruden inherited an all-time great defense, which he did not touch any part in the coaching. In the final analysis, Tampa greatly improved on offense but maintained on defense.
Why did he tie his legacy to Derek Carr?
While we can chide Gruden for the doubletalk, the bluster, he made his choice in Derek Carr. To his credit, Gruden never publicly wavered. Now, Carr needs to justify the devotion with wins. He’s not the feisty leader that Rich Gannon was, but more physically talented. Gruden sees abundant skills in Carr, that he can hopefully mold into an elite quarterback. In two years, Carr enjoyed a higher completion percentage but failed to capitalize on numerous chances to make the playoffs last year. Down the stretch, the Raiders lost five of their final six games. Carr and the offense failed late. With Marcus Mariota in the fold, don’t expect Gruden to hesitate to pull Carr, if the team sputters.
Where does he rank amongst current AFC coaches?
Belichick, Harbaugh, Reid, and Tomlin sit as the head of the conference, each winning a Super Bowl in the last 15 seasons. Behind them, Vrabel and Reich can boast recent postseason appearances. Gruden, on reputation, whether earned or inflated, resides in the second group. If you factor recent success, he hovers in the third tier. Not a slam against him, but the Raiders need to start winning soon.
Entering the third year of his second stint, the pressure mounts for Jon Gruden. Whether you want to hear it or not, the Raiders must win now. The new stadium, free agency, and strong draft dictate a win-now. If Jon Gruden, in his seven remaining years on the contract doesn’t raise multiple Lombardis, his legend will suffer a significant hit. No excuses.