Jon Gruden’s rebuild of the Raiders: Poorly executed and ill-timed
Jon Gruden is blowing up the Oakland Raiders piece by piece, and it couldn’t be more poorly executed and ill-timed.
For a time being, the future of the Oakland Raiders was built on the cornerstones of Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, and Amari Cooper. Reggie Mckenzie seemed to hit on all three draft picks, and it was only a matter of time before we began to see the potential of the trio come to fruition.
In 2016 with Jack Del Rio at the helm, we saw a glimpse of success that had evaded Raider Nation for more than a decade. The Oakland Raiders went 12-4, their breakout season manufactured on the magic of Carr leading comeback drives, Mack single-handedly strip-sacking quarterbacks’ of the football and hopes of victory, and Cooper leaving defenders in the dust on pace to another 1,000 yard season.
We’ll never know the true potential of that core group of players, the trio that helped dig the Silver and Black out of the depths of the league they found themselves in for what seemed to be an eternity. Carr suffered a season-ending injury, the Raiders were eliminated in the Wild Card, and despite high expectations a year ago, injuries and execution resulted in a six win season.
The talent was clearly there, we saw it in 2016 if only for a season. The roster was built to compete, and as long as they had a head coach capable of maximizing the true potential, who knows how far the trio could take this team and more importantly, the city of Oakland. We needed an offensive genius, and many believed him to be sitting in a broadcaster booth, calling Monday Night Football for ESPN.
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Jon Gruden had the itch to come back, he just needed to be pried away to the tune of 10 years, 100 million. The Raiders played their card, and got their man. Mission accomplished.
Finally with Gruden, known to be offensively sound and holding a solid track record of coaching his quarterbacks, we could see the maximum potential of the Carr, Mack, Cooper trio. No better time as well, given that the Raiders would be shipped off to Las Vegas in just two seasons. Raider Nation wanted to see something, anything, of this dream reunion on the field before they watched their team play in Vegas.
What we got instead was not a single minute, not a single football snap, of seeing the dream we envisioned. Mack was traded before the season opener to the tune of two-first round draft picks. Carr may have struggled last season, Cooper proved to have inconsistencies, but no matter how porous the defense was as a group, Mack was the focal point you could count on to give his all and quite possibly wreck the offense single-handedly.
It was a classic case of ego versus ego, and it was clear that the 100 million dollar man would come out on top. You don’t know what you’ll get with two first round draft picks, but you surely know what you’ll get with Khalil Mack. We’re seeing it now in Chicago, but we should be seeing it in Oakland. Traded right before the season opener? Very ill-timed.
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Fast forward to a 1-5 start, with a handful of losses coming in crunch time when a (pass-rusher) might have come in handy, and Gruden deals away Amari Cooper for a first round draft pick. In what might have been his only “win” so far this season (a first round draft pick, really Dallas?) it could not have come at a more untimely moment. A first round pick is an amazing haul, I didn’t think it could be pulled off, but at this moment in the season?
The Raiders are coming off their worst loss, a performance in which they looked lifeless and unengaged, and despite saying a week before that he wouldn’t be dealt, Cooper instead finds himself packing his bags. This team is on the edge of losing faith and focus on the season, and we haven’t even reached the half-way point. Again, ill-timed.
Will Carr be the final nail in the coffin? Gruden says that he’ll be fine and that the Raiders are easing off on trading their players, but accountability has been tough to stomach around Jon Gruden this season. Carr wants to be a Raider, he takes pride in being a Raider when perhaps it’s not the best time to wear the Silver and Black. He wants to wear the colors, but does his coach feels the same way? Your guess is as good as mine.
Perhaps Gruden is a genius, perhaps this core group peaked two seasons ago and a rebuild is truly necessary. What’s tough to stomach is the method to which he is effectively “blowing up” this team. There’s no better word to describe what’s going on in Oakland, this team is being dissolved piece by piece before our eyes. It’s a tough sight to see when these players gave us a taste of winning not long ago, only to be rewarded by being shown the door.