Raiders: Here’s what Jon Gruden’s absence could mean going forward

The Las Vegas Raiders have done a tremendous job since Jon Gruden resigned, and here is what his absence could look like for the team moving forward.

It has been a tumultuous two weeks for the Las Vegas Raiders, but they were able to get the win in Week 7 and now head into their Bye at 5-2. One thing that has plagued this team in the recent past has been strong starts followed by anemic finishes, but now that Jon Gruden is no longer around, will the Raiders be able to shake that stigma?

I won’t get into the whole debacle that was the Jon Gruden resignation/firing, whatever you want to call it. But the aftermath is that the Raiders have been a team that starts strong and finishes weakly ever since Gruden came aboard in 2018 for his second stint with the team and that period has come to a close.

Gruden himself has arguably been the driving force behind the second-half collapses of his teams even dating back to before his hiatus. Not to make light of Gruden’s absence, but now the Raiders have a chance to break out of their 2-year funk and close strong after an impressive 5-2 start.

Now is not the time to fall back into old habits, but the time to ensure a playoff spot is forcibly secured with gumption. This is a Raiders team with so much to be proud of at this point in the season. We’ve seen them get out to starts like this before, but was the defense middle of the road in almost every category?

No, it was well towards the bottom. Was Derek Carr second in the league in passing and creeping up on the top spot? No, Carr is having the best start to a season he’s had in years.

The point is, things just feel different with this Raiders team now that their leader is gone. Does Gruden’s absence overtly help the Raiders? I wouldn’t say that just yet.

Where do the Raiders go from here?

Only time will tell if dropping Gruden is what this team needed to get over the hump, but the team on the field right now is comprised of a quarterback lighting it up in the yardage category, a loaded running back core with Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake, Alec Ingold, and Peyton Barber, a loaded pass rush with Maxx Crosby, Yannick Ngakoue, Solomon Thomas, and Quinton Jefferson, the second-best tight end in football in Darren Waller, and a young secondary that’s playing at a high level with Nate Hobbs, Trayvon Mullen, Johnathan Abram, and Trevon Moehrig.

Here’s what the Raiders need to improve on if they want to close this season strong- they’ve already done some good work in this area so far, but they NEED to win games they’re SUPPOSED to win and not just play the role of spoiler to a tee like they’ve been doing.

For the Gruden era, the Raiders have consistently been a team that won games it wasn’t supposed to and lost games it was supposed to win.

They were 0-2 going into Sunday’s Eagles game covering spreads as favorites but 1-1 straight-up. Now they’re 1-2 covering and 2-1 straight-up as the favored team in matchups with another chance to add-on against the Giants in two weeks (presumably, they’ll be favored again).

The mark of a really good team is how they handle their level of competition. The Raiders have long been notorious for playing exactly to the level of their competition, and on bad weeks, that level of play shows up accordingly with “rough days at the office” so to speak. If you’re the Raiders and if you’re Derek Carr, do not let it stop here. Finish this thing off strong and put yourself in a position to not be sweating things out come Weeks 15-18.