The Oakland Raiders made a few moves this offseason that may not only affect the 2018 season but years to come. The Raiders fired Jack Del Rio after bringing the Raiders back to respectability in favor of Jon Gruden, who they once traded as a coach. On the outside, it seems like a good move, but according to Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report, it may have been the Raiders’ biggest mistake this offseason.
In no way is Gruden a bad coach. However, Gagnon would go on to say that Gruden will like to bring back a style of play from an era that is no longer relevant. Gruden wants to throw the game back to 1998, and while that’s a good sign, the issue with that is, it’s no longer 1998. The NFL is a quarterback’s league now, and the Raiders have one of the best in the game in Derek Carr. What Gruden must do is surround Carr with necessary weapons for the Raiders to get back atop the AFC West.
So far, in a free agency period where teams were giving away talent for peanuts on the dollar, the Raiders went and got players who may be past their expiration date. With players like Carlos Hyde and Isaiah Crowell available in free agency, Gruden elected to stick with Marshawn Lynch who will be 32 by the time the season starts. In 2017, Lynch gained 891 yards on 207 carries for the Raiders. There was a chance that the Raiders had a shot at Hyde or Crowell, instead, they chose to go with the outcast in Doug Martin of the Buccaneers. It’s cool to have veterans, but at some point, Gruden has to look at youth, especially at the running back position.
His other failure may have been releasing Michael Crabtree in order to sign Jordy Nelson. Again, it comes down to age and production. While Nelson has been a favorite target of Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, Nelson has also taken a step back regarding production. And being that he will be 34 by the start of the season should have Carr and Amari Cooper worried. Crabtree, Cooper, and Carr have built their chemistry over the years, but Gruden is grasping at straws here.
What takes the cake for the Raiders mishap in the Gruden hiring is that Gruden was given a 10-year deal worth $100 million for a coach who has been out the game for almost a decade. It’s not like the Raiders won just one game in two seasons like Hue Jackson, they got rid of a coach who transformed their team. Gruden has had his days in the limelight, but nine years away and his outlook has not changed.
This could end up being the biggest regret of any team this offseason.