Jon Gruden Seems Like A Lousy GM, But He Might Still Be A Great Head Coach

For better or worse, the Raiders season kicks off in just six days and where Jon Gruden is with his team is anyone’s guess.

Here are a few thoughts as one of the Raiders’ wildest preseasons in recent memory is thankfully coming to an end.

On Khalil Mack, one of the popular theories is that Gruden didn’t believe the team was ready to win and didn’t want to commit $90 million to one player during a rebuild. The problem with that theory is that Gruden always wants to win.

Could it be that Gruden actually thinks the Raiders are fine without Mack?

Gruden, I believe, was mostly just tired of playing tiddlywinks with Mack’s agent. Khalil wasn’t taking Gruden’s calls, the Raiders thought Aaron Donald would sign for less, and Gruden kindly told Mack to go kick rocks.

So what about Gruden, the general manager. Is he going to be good at this?

It sure doesn’t look like it.

Gruden might be the least patient man in the Raiders building – and that’s not a great quality as a GM. Gruden doesn’t like to sit around waiting for something good to happen and is a bit too impulsive to run a personnel department. He also doesn’t seem to understand the value of draft picks.

Reggie McKenzie should have been a great balancing act for Gruden, but there’s no question it hasn’t been a two-way relationship to this point.

Maybe Mark Davis can convince McKenzie to hang around, but don’t bet on it.

Moving on…

With all the change, can the Raiders still win?

Maybe Gruden can get the team to rally around him, but with so many questions at key positions, it sure feels like the Raiders have almost no margin for error against the Rams.

Still, something to remember is that the Raiders couldn’t have executed any worse on either side of the ball last year. Outside of Mack, Gruden mostly kept the Raiders core together and this year they will be coached with competence. Gruden might be a lousy general manager, but his coaching staff is going to be a dramatic upgrade over the clown shows of a year ago.

So yes, there’s hope.

Remember, it was the Raider offense that led the team to a 12-3 record before Derek Carr’s injury two years ago. The offense should be back and the defense can’t possibly be worse than it has been the past few years, right?

The Raiders have barely played their starters in the preseason so there’s some mystery there, but since Gruden obviously hasn’t been turning in long hours to his general manager duties, maybe it’s because he’s getting his team ready on the field.

Let’s go with that theory until proven otherwise.

But know this… if the Mack-less lame duck Oakland football team lays a few eggs to start the season, they’ll be up against the worst public relations nightmare they could have imagined.

twitter: @raidersbeat


16 thoughts on “Jon Gruden Seems Like A Lousy GM, But He Might Still Be A Great Head Coach

  1. Gruden has basically put everything on himself, whether they win or lose everything is on him. He will be praised or prosecuted. Most feel and want him to fall whether it be so they can talk about how stupid Mark Davis is or so they can prove he was never all that. I really have faith in him, but I’m still baffled by the Mack, Crabtree, and King departures.

  2. The mistake that was made came when Mark Davis gave Jon the keys to the kingdom. Gruden is a coach and a pretty good one. But being a GM isn’t his strong suit and if that’s what it took to get him on board then Mark should have passed. That said, Mack showed by his stance that he was more interested in how much he was going to make than winning a championship. Yes, all reports say the team had the money to pay him, but how many teams can survive and keep pace in the NFL with two players making the kind of money they would have doled out for Mack AND Carr. Mack was the better player but QB is the most important position on any football team. Those that have one compete. Those that don’t watch other teams flourish. Carr may not be elite but with the right coaching and stability, he can be. His 2016 season will attest to that. If Oakland had made Mack a reasonable offer,before Donald signed his deal Mack might still be a Raider. On the other hand, if Mack had showed up in the offseason program, they might have made an offer he could live with. Both sides are to blame in this situation. Neither party handled it correctly and it turned into a tug of war and only time will tell who won.

    1. I agree with your comment! Have been saying the same thing and sick of listening to so-call experts and analysts on media broadcast still mentioning Gruden’s pay for Mack not getting paid. They don’t even understand the Cap….. what a joke!

    2. Nice post! I’ve come to the same conclusion. Both are to blame and Mack also likely blindly followed advice of his agent.
      Gruden needs a GM that he can just trust for draft evaluations and compensation. If is not Reggie which seems the case, then get one who can. I’m not sure with a competent coaching staff Mackenzie can’t find good players to fit in the new scheme and excel from the draft.

    3. I ’ve come to the same conclusion. Both are to blame and Mack also likely blindly followed advice of his agent.
      Gruden needs a GM that he can just trust for draft evaluations and compensation. If is not Reggie which seems the case, then get one who can. I’m not sure with a competent coaching staff Mackenzie can’t find good players to fit in the new scheme and excel from the draft.

  3. DC Willie Shaw improved the defense and won 8 games with QB Donald Hollas playing when Gruden was with us first time around. His first year in Tampa, won SB with QB Brad Johnson and a good defense led by DC father of a douchebag. Let’s hope the same things happen again with new DC Guenther and QB Carr on Gruden’s second chapter with the Raiders.

  4. I don’t think Gruden was impulsive, or impatient with Mack. I’m on the side of Gruden in this situation. What Gruden has done, is he’s let it be known that the players who are going to stay Raiders are the players who are not going to sacrifice the team for their own gain. Do I blame Mack though? Not really. Mack has THE snake of all snake agents. (Joel Segal, look him up)

    Here is the main reason why I’m 100% okay with Mack not getting what he wanted. THE SALARY CAP!!! So called “Experts” are weighing in saying that they could have had the money available. Well they did, they had the money they offered Mack available for him. I’m sure there were free agents Reggie wasn’t able to land, and other players he wasn’t able to keep because he was keeping money available for Mack. The excuse was Mack’s contract looming the entire off season. They put aside as much money as possible while still trying to form a competitive roster, and how does Mack respond? With nothing. No calls. Not showing up to camp. No showing up to games. The Raiders did their part as far as I’m concerned. This year’s defense was going to be pretty iffy even with Mack, and it was because they were keeping assets available to pay him that the defense was in that position to begin with.

    Now, here is why all the “experts” are dead wrong in saying that the Raiders could afford it. This is what the 2019 Raider Cap Situation would look like IF they had given Mack the deal he wanted. The top 10 paid players would be: Assuming a 2019 Team Total Salary Cap of $187 up from $177 in 2018.

    Derek Carr = $22.5 Million
    Khalil Mack = $22.3 Million
    Amari Cooper = $13.9
    Kelechi Osemele = $10.2
    Rodney Hudson = $10
    Bruce Irvin = $9.2
    Donald Penn = 8.3 (probably would be forced to retire if Mack were here)
    Jordy Nelson = $7.2
    Gabe Jackson = $7
    Tahir Whitehead = $6.3 (who knows if he makes the team next year though)

    Right off the bat, Carr and Mack are roughly 25% of the ENTIRE salary cap. These 10 players make up 63% of the entire team’s salary. Leaving 43 other players to share the remaining 37%.

    Notice how only three of those players are on the defense, and compare that with the number of holes on the defense. Every CB on the roster is expendable. (Conley might develop if he can ever stay healthy) Joseph might become a good Safety if he can learn to tackle without getting 15 year penalties. The average age of the starting linebackers is 30+. This defense wasn’t going to be able to expand if the Raiders kept Mack, aside through the draft and the tired and true way to fix a position until the right player is drafted is to fill that hole with a free agent. If you have 25% of your salary tied into two players, you don’t have much money to throw around come free agency. Especially if you want to land decent, younger players, not the old timerers they landed this year by penny pinching.

    Being completely fair, of this list only Carr, Hudson and Penn are the only ones actually guaranteed money in 2019. So the odds of many of these guys getting cut in order to afford Mack would be VERY high. I don’t know about you, but Hudson, Jackson, and Osemele are pretty important and will all deserve another extension with the team, and their values are only going to go up. Let’s put this into perspective, they could find 3 players the value of Bruce Irvin and cut Whitehead for the price Mack is getting paid. Given who could be hitting free agency next year, that could be Earl Thomas, DeMarcus Lawrence (14 sacks last year) AND Clay Matthews all for the price of ONE player. Sure, all vets, but those three vets are all capable of playing and being great spot holders until drafted players can potentially step up. Those are three hypothetical options, based on what they are getting paid now and their age typically indicates either a small raise or decrease in salary.

  5. I would ask this one question, are the Raiders a better team without Mack? The answer is a big no. This team will struggle big time, rookie LT, who still needs major development. You could have given 3 number 1 picks for Mack and it still is not enough. You just don’t find great players like Mack very often. Look at the Raiders recent draft history, Jihad Ward, Mario Edwards, DJ Hayden, Menelik Watson, Obi, and the hits just keep on coming. Gruden must think they have no chance to win this year, and neither do I.

  6. I was shocked and saddened that Mack was traded. However naïve it maybe but taking Gruden’s statement at ‘face value’ he said there was still holes in the team, so he could have thought paying 2 players 20+ M would inhibit him from adding good, new players in free agency. So by trading Mack he gets more cap. room for more free agents. It also would give him more picks in the draft to fill some of those holes, the draft is at best is a bit of a lottery so the more picks the better your chances of winning. One player, however good he can not do it all himself, the other ten men are needed.

  7. i liked mack a lot but he is not worth that contract, some games he would dominate and others he was very good, got 25 million a year defensive player you need to be a game changer. also he put himself before the team holding out, leaven bell could do that cause kid is the best at his position, mack is top 5 at best, not top 1 de. i liked our draft and our offseason, although we should’ve traded mack before the draft to get someone for this year i felt. without today’s rules, if our offense is back to normal we will be fine with a bright future. earn your paycheck carr!

  8. 2 years ago the best off-season move was to replace the entire defensive coaching staff and retain Musgrave. Instead, the exact opposite happened and the offense nose-dived and the defense continued to suck. How is it that shmucks like you and me could see the extremely obvious move to make, yet guys making millions, with decades of NFL experience don’t see it? A competent DC could have gotten the defense ranked, perhaps, in the low 20’s, maybe in the teens, while the offense probably would have hung around the very top of the league once again. A competent GM wouldn’t have completely blown the 2016 and 2017 drafts, which would have helped to retain a high-priced player like Mack due to some starters making rookie pay-scale money. Instead, McKenzie blows both drafts and we have to overpay for free agents to plug holes or start sub-standard UDFA’s.

    Reggie has blown every draft since 2015, Del Rio hired a bag of worthless idiots to coach the defense (especially KNJ), Gruden has absolutely NO IDEA how to work the draft and devalues draft picks, etc. I think we’ll have a pretty decent offense and an improved defense scheme, but I just don’t know that we have the talent to use that scheme to make the playoffs or even go .500.

  9. I’m all for patiently waiting to get a mega-star signed, but how long is enough time? Mack didn’t respond since April! OBJ went to OTAs and mini-camp and he got a few done. Aaron Rogers did the same. Why does Mack seem to have zero responsibility in the way this went down? The ENTIRE coaching staff turned over. The player didn’t even want to come in and meet them, much less negotiate. I hope young players see this and realize if they really want to play for the same team like Mack supposedly did, then they need to at least talk to them. If you only want the max deal then do exactly what Mack and his agent did, but at least call it like it is. Don’t leave the team out to take all the heat the way Mack has done.

  10. why isn’t anyone blamming mack for this . He was under contract for this season and did not report to work as he was obligated to do,,, If Mack was such a team player, why did he not report to camp, Every one is making the raiders, and Gruden look bad in this , but here you have a player who refused to report to any of the teams workouts or meeting in the off season,,,

    1. Totally agree. I love Mack, but I think his agent steered him wrong here. If he really wanted to be a Raider for life then he would’ve at the very least showed up! Especially with a brand new coaching staff.

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