Jon Gruden: Master Finesser

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Jon Gruden signed a 10-year, $100 million contract to leave the ESPN broadcast booth and return to the sideline for the Oakland Raiders.

After many failed coaches in Oakland, the Raiders were hoping to hit a home run on this head coaching hire. Early on, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Let’s go through a list of the head-scratching decisions Gruden has already made, and his trolling quotes to go with them.

First up is the Khalil Mack saga. Mack is arguably the single best defensive player in the NFL. When Gruden was hired, Mack wanted a new contract and was holding out. Rather than trying to get it sorted out, Gruden opted to trade him to Chicago who promptly paid Mack like he deserved. The great part about this? For the weeks following Gruden, multiple times, referenced how the Raiders needed to find a pass rush.

On top of the fact that Gruden traded one of the league’s best players, that player through five weeks (including his Week 5 bye) has nearly outperformed the entire Raiders’ defense by himself!

Enough with the Khalil Mack stuff. Gruden won a Super Bowl championship, right? So he MUST know the best way to coach his players and get the most out of them…right?

Now let’s discuss Rashaan Melvin. Melvin was one of the biggest surprises in the NFL last season. Melvin finally found an opportunity with the Indianapolis Colts last season and took full advantage. Melvin ultimately signed a 1-year, $5.5 million deal to play for Oakland with the expectation that he would fit into their man coverage scheme with a pass rusher like Mack up front. Well, fast forward to Gruden being hired, and all of the Mack stuff I just covered, and now you’ve got a frustrated corner tweeting this after being benched:

Screen Shot 2018-10-17 at 11.37.03 AM

Gruden was asked about Melvin’s tweets and then proceeded to say that maybe Melvin is “confused.”

Let’s keep going, but let’s stick with the secondary. Melvin hasn’t been the only corner who has struggled this season. 2017 first round pick Gareon Conley has also struggled and was also benched by Gruden. At least Gruden was more kind when discussing Conley, stating “Conley’s still a young guy; we’re going to reiterate that over and over. His career is just getting started.” That’s fair but when the team is 1-5 and already struggling, what’s the point in benching a second-year corner who could use every rep they can get to improve?

Ah, but it doesn’t stop there! Just a couple days ago, reports began to surface that former first round picks, wide receiver Amari Cooper and safety Karl Joseph, were on the trade block. Gruden shot those down saying they’re not shopping Cooper and that they expect him to be a big part of their offense.

This tweet might be the single best summary of the first six weeks of the Gruden era in Oakland/Las Vegas.

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