At the start of 2018, the Raiders gave Jon Gruden a 10-year, $100 million contract.
Gruden then went out and won four games.
Now, as he gets ready to begin his second season as head coach with the start of training camp next week, Gruden will be on the hot seat. He won’t be in jeopardy of losing his job or his cash flow, of course. He’s set for a long while. He’s secure.
But what’s on the line is Gruden’s coaching reputation. Is he the same guy who had success with the Raiders and Tampa Bay all those years ago before becoming an NFL broadcaster? Or is he just living off that reputation?
His first year in Oakland was tough. The team’s best player, Khalil Mack, was traded away before Game 1, and star wide receiver Amari Cooper was dealt during the season. The defense was awful, quarterback Derek Carr was sacked 52 times and Oakland had holes across its roster.
Year 2 of the second Gruden era for the Raiders will probably be more revealing, says Elliot Harrison, an analyst for NFL.com.
This week, Harrison – in ranking all 32 NFL head coaches – puts Gruden in the middle of the pack at No. 15. Fans will probably find out a lot more about his ability this season, with players familiar with his system and some new talent.
“Gruden presents a problem, at least when it comes to comparing him to his peers,” wrote Harrison. “He’s one of only seven head coaches in the game today who have led a team to a Super Bowl win. Besides hoisting a Lombardi Trophy while in Tampa Bay, Gruden also took the Raiders to the brink in 2000. …
“Yet before last season, he hadn’t coached since ’08. His run with the Bucs post-Super Bowl was mediocre. As he shipped out star players and cut ties with front-office execs he didn’t want in Oakland last year, the Raiders managed just four wins.
“That’s why ’19 should be the tell on what kind of coach he is going forward. New GM Mike Mayock helped Gruden begin to rebuild the roster after stockpiling picks, providing an infusion of talent that should at least make this team more competitive. Given the strength of the division-rival Chargers and Chiefs, simply leading Oakland to the playoffs should be a ringing endorsement for the coach.”
This post was originally posted at http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/How-Good-is-Gruden-Year-2-Will-be-Revealing-512890451.html.