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No “win-now mandate” for Jon Gruden

Peter Kings reviews what the Raiders and their new draft picks need to improve and work on in order to make a playoff run for 2021 season.

Jon Gruden 2.0 has gone 0-3 when it comes to getting to the playoffs. Few if any other coaches could avoid being on the hot seat in year four.

Gruden nevertheless seems to be safe.

Reporting from Raiders training camp in Nevada, Peter King writes in his Football Morning in America column that Gruden isn’t under a “win-now mandate” from owner Mark Davis.

As to Gruden and Davis, it’s no surprise. Gruden is the coach Davis coveted from the moment he took over the team. Davis has him, and Davis isn’t letting him go -- even if Gruden extends his non-playoff streak to four.

It also helps that Gruden has a way of selling the glass as 39.5 percent full, after King asked Gruden if he’s pissed at having only 19 wins in 48 games.

“I’m not pissed,” Gruden said. “I’m excited about the progress we’ve made. We weren’t very good. We had, I think, 20 new starters my first year. Our second year, we got off to a pretty good start. We lost our right tackle. We lost our right guard. We lost our featured back down the stretch. We struggled. And we lost games against Jacksonville and Denver late in the year. You gotta really see it to believe how we lost those games. Got off to a good start last year. Decimated at times because of the virus. We had a tough schedule. But we were in the playoff hunt last couple years until the latter part of the season. I think we are improving. But I don’t like to lose. I don’t like hearing 19-29. I do like the feeling of progress. We were 6-2 in the West. 6-2 on the road, that’s pretty good. We gotta continue to get better obviously at home.”

But it’s not like Gruden inherited a crap franchise. The year before he took the job, the team went 12-4 and made it to the playoffs. But he pushed out G.M. Reggie McKenzie, who’d built that team, and then brought in Mike Mayock to replace him.

Now, Mayock moves into the scapegoat splash zone. If the team fails to make the playoffs in 2021 -- and given the top-heavy nature of the AFC, it’s hard not to think the Raiders won’t get one of the seven seats at the playoff table -- Mayock probably needs to worry about Gruden blaming it all on him, just like Gruden blamed it all on defensive coordinator Paul Guenther during the 2020 season.

Indeed, there was chatter in the aftermath of last season that Mayock could be the next to go. The problem for Gruden is simple; if he gets rid of Mayock, how can Gruden know he’ll replace Mayock with someone as good or better?

At some point, the blame needs to come back to Gruden. But of all the Raiders fans in the world, only one gets a vote on whether Gruden remains. And Mark Davis doesn’t seem to be remotely close to thinking about making a change.