The Raiders already made their big splash

If you expected a marquee free agency signing or hoped for one like I did, you’re real disappointed with this week’s haul. It’s understandable since the Raiders signed a 33-year-old Jordy Nelson, four defensive starters from non-playoff teams, three reserve skill players you’ve never heard of and a long snapper.

This really shouldn’t be surprising since Oakland prefers to build through the draft. Plus, the Raiders already made their major move in free agency. That was signing head coach Jon Gruden.

Adding Gruden won’t impact the salary cap but it’s the marquee move of the free agent. If you were expecting a big name with dollars to upstage that you were setting yourself up for failure.

Yes, there’s no Suh, Honeybadger or Tru coming despite whatever source said that might happen.

Instead, Oakland will try to grab impact players in the draft. They’ll bank on Gruden coaching up mediocre plays. They will hope a new staff wit structure and scheme will help this team improve naturally.

Hopefully, there right. The regime will need to bat 1000 in the NFL Draft if they hope to construct a Super Bowl roster.

Plus, this team needs to win immediately as they’re facing relocation in a season or two. If this team stumbles out of the gate, expect a ton of hostile fans at home. They will cite this free agency and last season as examples of McKenzie letting them down.

Again, the hope is McKenzie and Gruden are right that they can coach up some average NFL talent. That these veterans are hungry and ready to buy into Gruden’s schemes.

That means all we can do is what and see. Trust the process, no matter how tired of it you are.


Free Agency Watch and Wish List

Here is a comprehensive list of how the Raiders should value free agents. Free Agency opens today and these players are grouped by the wave. This isn’t necessarily a ranking so much as it shows what players should be a priority as well as their value to the Raiders.

Top Guys

These guys will get the big money and they will get it fast. Oakland will be lucky to get any of them with only about $15 million in cap space and Khalil Mack‘s extension upcoming. This group is ranked by priority.

Mo Wilkerson

Trumaine Johnson

Malcolm Butler

Sheldon Richardson

Allen Robinson

Sammy Watkins

Dontari Poe

Nate Solder

Kenny Vaccaro

Jimmy Graham

Andrew Norwell

Tyler Eifert

Second-Tier Guys who fit a need

This group doesn’t have the same name recognition, age, production or upside but they’re still ballers. Big money will not come for this group as fast as the first tier. Thus, they may take the most money they can get early from a team who really wants them. Otherwise,  they can wait until the market is more stable and a team really needs to spend some money.

Eric Reid

Star Lotulelei

Nigel Bradham

Bashaud Breeland

Aaron Colvin

Tahir Whitehead

Justin Bethel

Nickell Robey-Coleman

Carlos Hyde

Isiah Crowell

Tre Boston

Patrick Robinson

Paul Richardson

Marquis Lee

Zach Brown

Adrian Clayborn

Terrelle Pryor

EJ Gaines

Morris Claiborne

Deshawn Shead

DeMarcco Murray

Bennie Logan

Avery Williamson

Derrick Coleman

Dion Lewis

Peter Warrilow

Todd Davis

This is where the Raiders have made their living in free agency. If the money and team fit is right, Oakland can fill some positions of need by this group that is often overlooked. The Raiders won’t overpay for anyone in this bracket.

Under the Radar Guys for down the line

This group is filled with starting experience. Players in this bracket have proven themselves as starters and key role players. They’ve played at a high level but age, injuries, limited upside and inconsistencies keep them from being in a higher bracket.

Morgan Burnett

Prince Amukamara

Demario Davis

Philip Gaines

DJ Hayden

Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Luke Willson

Jerick McKinnon

Jeremy Lane

Brandon Boykin

Jeremy Hill

David Bass

Cody Davis

Cornellius Carradine

Justin Pugh

Bradley McDougald

Benson Mayowa

Pierre Desir

Kendall Wright

Kamar Aiken

Benjamin Ljalana

Kendall Wright

John Brown

Dontrelle Inman

Jaron Brown

Rex Burkhead

Tavon Wilson

Korey Toomer

Cameron Fleming

Charles Simms

Oakland can fill some key starters and depth players from this bargain bin. However, a team who thinks they can put this player in the best position may make one of these players an offer they can not refuse.

On the downswing

Again, these players have proven themselves in the league. However, they will have to continue proving themselves. Unless a team falls in love with one of them or desperately needs to spend money, these players won’t see a ton of cash.

Ron Parker

LeGarrette Blount

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Lamar Houston

Ricky Jean-Francois

Andre Smith

Da’Norris Searcy

Nick Fairley

Virgil Green

Clinton McDonald

Doug Martin

Pernell McPhee

Courtney Upshaw

Akeem Ayers

Davon House

Jerrell Freeman

Tramon Williams

Anthony Fasano

Zach Miller

Quinton Demps

TJ Ward

Alan Branch

Will Hayes

Mike Wallace

Conner Barwin

Tyvon Branch

Jon Sullivan

Matt Slauson

Byron Maxwell

Darius Butler

Eric Decker

Willie Young

Ahtyba Rubin

Shareece Wright

Rashaan Melvin

Sterling Moore

Stephen Peaea

Alfred Morris

Alterraun Verner

Brian Quick

Michael Floyd

Terrance West

Jarvis Jenkins

John Jenkins

James Hurst

Josh Bynes

Will Compton

Lance Dunbar

The biggest difference between this wave of free agency and the previous one is age. Expect these guys to sign contracts after the draft when teams have a better idea of their needs before camp.


These are the ego signings. A coach will think they are the ones to unlock the potential that this group has shown. Injuries, scheme-fit and inconsistency have placed them in this wave. However, age, flashes and upside put them in this group over some of the others.

Alex Okafor

Donte Moncrief

Jordan Matthews

Barkevious Mingo

Preston Brown

Kony Ealy

Luke Joeckel

Trent Murphy

Albert Wilson

Dominique Easley

Aaron Lynch

Damien Williams

Kevin Minter

Jared Crick

Greg Robinson

Taylor Gabriel

D’anthony Thomas

Marcus Smith

Jeremiah Attaochu

Richard Rodgers

Trey Burton

Anthony Hitchens

Eddie Lacy

Cody Latimer

Some of these players were drafted high. Others were not. Nonetheless, they’re all explosive athletes who were suppossed to dominate the competition. A team might fall in love with that and gamble on them. The Raiders might be one but Oakland will only do it if the price is right and the player fits the culture.

Veterans worth a gamble

Many of these players have earned the right to decide how they want to go out. Money grab and mentorship role with a young team or a reserve role with a contender? Some are more name than game these days.

Derrick Johnson

Julius Peppers

Haloti Ngata

Kyle Williams

Charles Johnson

Pacman Jones

Mike Tolbert

Jonathan Stewart

Elvis Dumervil

Brent Grimes

Johnathan Joseph

Sean Witherspoon

Danny Amendola

Benjamin Watson

Frank Gore

Karlos Dansby

Paul Posluszny

Leon Hall

Martellus Bennett

Not all of these players are Hall of Famers but they’ve all played at a high level and reserve the right to decide what value football has to them. The NFL is not for long and these players will have their value set by other teams. It will be up to them if another season is worth it or not. Either way, Oakland could use their leadership.

If you want to know numbers, positions, and former teams then click on the linked names. Ultimately, this is more big board than it is predictions. Can’t wait to see what the Raiders do when Free Agency opens at Midnight.


Gruden and McKenzie Free Agency 2018

This year’s free agency is going to be super interesting. Even more interesting than usual given it will give us our first public taste of the Jon Gruden and Reggie McKenzie dynamic.

Traditionally, McKenzie and the Raiders sit out the first wave of free agency. Unless, there is a guy RM really wants he usually waits for the big dollars to come out and he spends his money on second-tier players. There are some exceptions like Kelechi Osemele and Rodney Hudson who the Raiders wasted no time persuing. However, it’s more likely that they look at second wave free agents like Sean Smith and Bruce Irvin.

Except, Jon Gruden is in the picture now. Gruden, traditionally loves his veterans. His schemes also demand new team needs. They’ll need a tradional fullback and blocking tight ends. As well as upgrades at the possession receiver and catching back positions. Oakland may prefer to address these needs in the draft.

However, both Gruden and McKenzie need to win now. Las Vegas relocation is creeping up and Oakland is desperate for a contender. McKenzie will need to prove his worth to Gruden too since this will be R.M.’s third regime.

The point is, free agency will be interesting to see the relationship of McKenzie and Gruden play out. How will their different strategies integrate? Will they attack tier one upgrades? Will they wait and add low-budget depth players. Is it a quality or quantity approach? Do they value the players already on their roster?

Justin Ellis

Justin “Jelly Roll” Ellis is a fan favorite of the Raiders largely due to his name as well as him being a part of the infamous 2014 Raiders draft class that is the foundation to this team. Ellis got a 3-year, $15 million contract ($6 million guaranteed) before he hit the open market.

At face value, this is Oakland re-signing a part of the No. 12 ranked run defense. This is rewarding home grown talent which is something the Raiders have done under McKenzie. It is even more important given Eddie Vanderdoes torn ACL and uncertain future.

However, Ellis finally played himself into shape in a contract year. He hasn’t progressed much as a pass rusher or run stopper over the past few years. Neither is he a great fit for the new regime.

Plus, it is expected that the $6 million in guarantees will be all upfront for Ellis. That means he’ll be making a salary close to what Bennie Logan and Dontari Poe signed last year. He neither has the name recognition or production to warrant that contract.

This is not an indictment on Ellis. He’s a solid player and good rotational defensive lineman. It is not his fault the Raiders offered him this contract.

Nonetheless, why wouldn’t McKenzie and the Raiders let the market tell them Ellis’ value? It’s unlikely he gets that deal anywhere else. Moreover, big-name tackles like Mo Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Poe could’ve been signed with this similar number in mind. They would’ve been considerable upgrades too.

Overall, Ellis’ contract gives us precedent on what to expect for Denico Autry and T.J. Carrie. Both players were also key contributors for the Raiders over the past few seasons. Both will hit the open market and it will be interesting to see if Oakland will overpay them or let them leave. I’d argue that both those players deserve more than Ellis so it will be interesting to see if they get more or less in free agency.

Lastly, the Raiders have to ink Khalil Mack at some point. Mack wanted Ellis back but will Jelly’s money make it harder to cash out Mack? Either way, the Raiders got to lock Mack up before the Rams pay Aaron Donald. Donald is another DPOY from the 2014 class and he will set the market higher than Mack if he is signed first. Either player will use the other’s contracts as the baseline for the new extension. Thus, the Rams and Raiders are in a sort of arms race to re-sign their defensive franchise player before the other sets the market stupid high.


Jon Gruden headlines the Combine

Jon Gruden made headlines at the NFL Combine this week. It was largely due to his interview at the NFL Combine.

Gruden said he loves Raiders player Michael Crabtree and many more. The new head coach called out other former draft picks like Gareon Conley, Obi Melifonwu and others. He also knocked down GPS and said he wants to take football back.

Ultimately, it is really not important what Gruden said. He’s been on record saying most of what he already said including players he’s counting on, an emphasis on the strength of his coaching staff, his frustration with new rules and his happiness to be back coaching. The issue is that he keeps saying.

Gruden isn’t in the media anymore. It’s not his job to entertain or give quotes. His job is to win the Raiders games.

Jon himself has said that he hasn’t met many of the players on the roster who they will have to make decisions about. He’s also admitted that he has to catch up and get into the grind. He understand the business side of the NFL too.

The point is, Gruden is setting himself up to fail if he’s making promises he can not deliver. If he doesn’t know if a player will back, he shouldn’t say it. Gruden also shouldn’t promise featuring every single skill player and highlight that he wants to get them ball. They will look at him sideways if he can’t or doesn’t deliver.

That doesn’t look good to future rookies and free agents. Remember, the new players know Gruden more for his stint on Monday Night Football than his time on Oakland’s sideline. They will have to see him as a coach but that won’t be easy considering he’s moving from the outside. Not delivering on promises will kill Gruden’s credibility before he gains it.

Further, Gruden doesn’t need to make himself look anymore dated. Between the comments about GPS, analytics and gripes about the new rules, Gruden does not need to do anything else to make him seem out of touch. He’s going to keep seeming like the back in my dead head coach with anymore comments.

Ultimately, Gruden could be playing the media. He could make it seem like he is or is not talking to players, He could play coy like he is struggling to adapt to analytics, policies and technology. Gruden is just smarter than us all and making people underestimate him and the Raiders Otherwise, these are all facts and the Raiders have a long road ahead them.

Regardless, the point is Gruden doesn’t need to say anything. He doesn’t have to promise players camp auditions or more play calls. He doesn’t need to gripe about changes in polices or technology. He just needs to win games.

As much as I hated the coach speak from Jack Del Rio, Gruden’s quote vomiting brings its own issues. It is setting expectations for players and fans but Gruden hasn’t and can’t do anything about these words. Sure, its the offseasons and it is all fluff but that doesn’t mean Gruden has to buy in. If Gruden wants accountability and a tight-lipped culture he better set the example. We’ve all had enough of his Monday Night Football quotes. It’s to Just Win Baby



The Marcus Peters Effect

Marcus Peters got traded to the Los Angeles Rams which should make them one of the best defenses in the NFL.

For Raiders fans, addition by subtraction is what they say when a three-time pro bowler leaves your division. However, when it is a 25-year-old, Oakland-native traded for a second-rock pick there are some serious questions about why?

The narrative is that Peters was a a cancer in the locker room including his time at Washington. He had an altercation with the Raiders in 2017. He almost got kicked out for throwing a referee flag last season. Still, Peters did not have a problem with the Chiefs. They’re moving in a new direction as a team anyways.

Regardless, Peters is a top talent in the NFL. The 28 teams who passed on Peters did themselves a disservice including the Raiders. Finding a second round player who can instantly impact games likes Peters is a long shot. It’s laughable to think that was the highest comepensation.

Peters is an athlete who changes games with his abilities to create turnovers. Oakland desperately needs that kind of impact in the back end as their consistently ranked towards the bottom in pass defense and turnovers.

As for the Raiders, their trade history is non-existent under Reggie McKenzie. It would have been nice for them to take a chance on a player like Peters for a second round investment. Their history of second round draft picks under Reggie McKenzie like Jihad Ward, Mario Edwards Jr. and Menelik Watson have not had half the impact Peters has had or will have.

Additionally, Oakland will look to add a corner in the draft or free agency. Trading for Peters would’ve fulfilled a need in less time than a rookie and for less money than free agency.

Of course, the Raiders and Chiefs are unlikely to make a trade since their both in the AFC West. Peters’ questionable incidents and upcoming payday also make him a risky investment. Still, the Raiders should’ve considered the Oakland native and proven commodity.

It makes sense that the division rivals couldn’t come to a agreement. However, the Raiders should not have let an all-pro corner in his prime slip from their grips. It was a move  that was unlikely for the Raiders.

Nonetheless, it is disappointing that they officially let this trade happen under their nose. Oh well, I guess we will all watch Peters dominate as a Ram. Hopefully, the Raiders can get their own corner position filled out now.

Raiders offseason 2018: More questions than answers

It’s impossible to predict what Jon Gruden and the Raiders will do this offseason. Insiders or anyone else is claiming they know is fooling themselves.

I don’t think Gruden even knows what he’s gonna do. Gruden hasn’t coached a game in nearly a decade. The game has changed exponentially since then. He wouldn’t be smart to think within his own constraints. Good coaches adjust and adapt. Gruden will need to do that no matter what plans are already on his drawing board.

Beyond that, he’s gotta adapt to the Reggie McKenzie Raiders. This time around, Oakland has a semi-regular organization and structure. However, McKenzie has built the organization in his way. How will Reggie’s roster mesh with Gruden’s vision? What parts of Gruden’s vision are worth compromise? Can the two egos operate in cohesion? How long will that take?

Sure, Gruden is getting a $10 million bag not to get the guys who he wants but the Raiders have made progress under McKenzie. How much does Gruden respect that? My bet is they will go with the path of least resistance immediately. At least while they’re trying to stir the trip towards Las Vegas.

That’s another issue. Relocation is hanging over the Raiders in the next year or two. We can’t act like that isn’t an issue. Players and administration uprooting their lives in a year or two. Some might buy in but others might struggle to adapt. That’s a variable when recruiting free agents, even if money talks.

Plus, Gruden doesn’t have the legendary Al Davis lingering over him anymore. That could very well be a relief but Chuckie doesn’t have a legendary football mind to lean on anymore. He doesn’t have a scapegoat at the top.

How will Gruden handle Mark Davis being his new boss? Even if the two are friends, how will their relationship handle the new dynamics? Can Mark Davis effectively push and motivate Gruden?

Gruden isn’t coaching the same game he coached a decade ago. This isn’t the same roster. This isn’t the same organization. These aren’t the same fans either.

Sure, the Black Hole raised Gruden. They will just as easily spit him out. Not because they don’t care about him. They will do it because they deserve a winner. Gruden is taking the savior title and Oakland will be on him to deliver. If he fails, he will fail the black hole and the entire city.

Thus, anyone expecting the same old Gruden is kidding themselves. He went to Tampa and did broadcasting. He better be different.

The Oakland Raiders don’t need that same Gruden, they need a better one. They need someone who can handle coaching and navigating all these different variables.

Gruden’s got a long way to go. He’s gotta adapt to new rules in a new game. New organization structure too. It isn’t going to be as easy as him picking up where he left off.

The only thing we should expect from Gruden is something totally different. We got to wait and see. Wait and watch as we see the new Gruden style and scheme develop in a new context.

That’s the exciting thing about this new era. No one really knows what will happen. No one knows if this will be a success or failure. We can’t rely on Gruden’s past data because that was a long time ago. We can’t rely on the Raiders most recent history because they’ve never had a coach like Gruden.

Gruden will shake up the entire organization and the entire process. That begins this offseason. We will see how he adapts his scheme and style to the new game. We will see how this roster adapts to him.

I, for one, can not wait to see this all unfold. I can’t wait to see Gruden handle all these variables. I can’t wait for the offseason to really unfold so we will have a better idea of how Gruden and the Raiders will adapt in the new era.


Gruden Era Can’t Trust the Process

The Oakland Raiders blew up the process by firing Jack Del Rio and hiring Jon Gruden. You don’t hire Gruden from the booth, assemble of group of experienced and expensive assistants and pay Del Rio off to win a Division title. The expectations for Gruden and company is a Super Bowl ASAP.

Of course, that means the Raiders will need to fill their roster with Super Bowl level talent. They have glaring needs for elite talent and depth across the roster. They could wait for some draft picks from the previous regime to develop but that was the process that failed them in 2017.

The Raiders need to get top level talent in the draft, obviously, but they need to do that in free agency as well. Gruden has been out of coaching for a while so he doesn’t have a pipeline of active players ready to go. He’s got to get a new generation of players to buy into his legends of the 2000s.

Del Rio needed to attract free agents too. He did to some extent. They found budget guys like Perry Riley Jr., Reggie Nelson, David Amerson, Michael Crabtree, Marshawn Lynch and Navarro Bowman. They got top guys like Keleci Osemele and Rodney Hudson. They capitalized on second tier free agents like Sean Smith, Dan Williams, Donald Penn and Bruce Irvin.

Now, Gruden has got to take it a step further. In the past, general manager Reggie McKenzie has been hesitant to pay older free agents or handover big contracts. That will have to change in the Gruden era. They will need take some short cuts and that means signing the top free agents.

We’re seeing it in Jacksonville. The Jaguars spent dollars on elite free agents. They also drafted well and developed those players. Now, they’ve got a deep roster with veterans and young players. Oakland needs to follow a similar format.

On the other hand, we’ve seen teams like Giants sign free agents and take steps backwards. That proves the Raiders need a balance of draft picks and free agents to improve their depth.

When Reggie McKenzie took over this organization, he tore down the roster by releasing underperforming players. He hired Dennis Allen to lead the rebuild.

A few years later, McKenzie started reconstruction. He hired an experienced coach like Del Rio. He started attracting under the radar free agents that offered the most return on their investment. He found veterans willing to buy-in and prove themselves.

Now, the Raiders will enter the re-tool part of the process. They have cornerstone players like Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson and Amari Cooper to build around. They have veterans who have proved themselves like Osemele, Irvin, Hudson and others. Gruden will need to take this nucleus and mold into a true contender.

Gruden is tasked with getting this team an identity. He’s got some talent that he needs to get to buy into his vision. However, he’s going to need to get some more talent around them that fits his image. This is how the team takes the next step.

It means getting rid of players who don’t fit the character or play style that Gruden needs. Those who don’t buy in or fit in will need to be replaced.

That means bringing in talent that elevates the quality of the roster and is willing to fill specific needs. They need elite talented players willing to buy into Gruden’s image of the Raiders. Oakland will need to spend on elite players that compliment the nucleus they already have and will fit Gruden’s identity.

The Raiders can’t waste anymore time waiting for players to develop. They can’t keep players on scholarship. They can’t squeeze round pegs into Gruden’s image.

Hiring Gruden didn’t just speed up the process. Combine that with the Raiders moving to Las Vegas in two years and the entire process is blown up.

Oakland is taking a huge gamble on Gruden. They’re taking a huge gamble moving to Las Vegas. Oakland needs a Super Bowl ASAP.

The Jaguars and Titans both won a playoff game before the Silver and Black. If that is not an indicator that the team needs to speed up the process, what is?

The Raiders can’t stop gambling now. They got to gamble by spending money on specific, elite free agents. Sorry McKenzie, but your entire process is blown up. Oakland can’t wait for you draft picks to develop. You gotta open up that checkbook and take some shortcuts to help Gruden build his identity.

$100 million later, Jon Gruden is officially official head coach of the Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders officially got their white whale. They gave Jon Gruden $100 million over 10 years so the ESPN commentator would return to the sideline. ruden’s assistants are expected to be heavily compensated as well.

It is rumored they’re hiring Rams QB coach Greg Olsen as offensive coordinator and Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia and Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will hold the same positions in Oakland.

Why Gruden’s return is good

Every Raiders fan remembers the last time Gruden wore Raiders colors as a coach. It was the infamous Tuck Rule game. If his return reverses that curse, then I’m all for it.Other fans, look forward to the nostalgia of Gruden getting the offense back in shape and making plenty of great sound bites. If the coordinator rumors are true that is great too. Guenther is a true 4-3 guy who will finally give this defense an identity. They won’t hide behind a hybrid scheme. They won’t get pushed around either. Gruden is also a proclaimed offensive guru. That means it will be on him to get Amari Cooper and Derek Carr back on track after both regressed in 2017.Ultimately, the move is a signal from Raiders owner Mark Davis. You don’t give that kind of money to Gruden and eat Jack Del Rio’s contract if you aren’t committed to winning a championship as soon as possible. The Raiders have up to two years left in Oakland and it is clear they want to make a playoff push before that. Having an organization committed to a winning culture is always a good thing. It’s a move that should lift the morale of fans too.

Why Gruden part two could get bad

Remember the last time Mark Davis made a move that fans loved but everyone else questioned. That was the addition of Marshawn Lynch a year after retirement. The jury is still out on that move.Don’t forget it was also Davis who hired Del Rio. Del Rio was a great hire at the time but that turned sour quick.Gruden will have even higher expectations. Ownership will expect a significant playoff push before they leave Oakland. If not, Reggie McKenzie could get his pink slip next. Speaking of that, it is rumored that Gruden may want to make some additions to the personnel department too. McKenzie will stay onboard for the interim. However, it remains to be seen if he will stay with Gruden long term. Then there’s the whole matter of Las Vegas. The Raiders are taking on a lot of debt to make the move happen. They’ll need Gruden to make the team into a winner before, during and after the move. The success of the relocation to a smaller city and new sports town depends on the Raiders on-field-product.Additionally, there’s a huge elephant in the room. Gruden hasn’t called a game in nearly a decade. Certainly, he’s analyzed the game and become aware of new trends as an outsider. However, that’s completely different than leading men and putting together a game plan.On top of that, he’ll lead on Greg Olsen as offensive coordinator. Olsen held the same title with the Raiders during Carr’s rookie year. That’s good for continuity but let’s remember that is the year Carr earned his check down Derek nickname. It also reminds me of the time we rehashed Gregg Knapp. It can’t be much worse than that. Olsen did help Jared Goff develop this year. He probably learned some modern west coast offense from Sean McVay too. But Olsen didn’t do anything in his second stint with Jacksonville. Olsen’s offenses have been average throughout his career. Don’t forget that. Otherwise, John DeFillipo was the QB coach that year and the year before. He’s the real attributed mastermind behind Carr’s rookie year and the year that brought us Terelle Pryor. Except DeFillipo will probably get a head coaching job and not return to Oakland with Olsen. Hopefully, Gruden and Olsen don’t expect to dink and dunk their way to a title in 2018. If that’s the case, expect Raiders fans to turn their morale real quick. On both sides of the ball, the Raiders are going to have to add some guys to help the transition to Gruden’s regime? If it works, is to be determined…

The verdict

Applaud the Raiders for doing what they had to do and gambling on Gruden seems like the sexy bet. It won’t come without challenges because all coaching changes result in growing pains. Nonetheless, it was clear they had to move on from Jack Del Rio. Del Rio looked old and tired as the season went on. He never could find the answers during the games or in post game press conferences. There was a ton of weird drama from Lynch, Carr, the defense and the offensive line. Del Rio couldn’t keep it under control. Reports also said Del Rio wasn’t staying as late as much either. It seems like Del Rio always found someone to blame besides himself. He could never build a defensive culture or limit penalties during his entire tenure. He couldn’t maximize his talent in 2017. Del Rio wasn’t going to persuade any free agents moving forward either.Further, all this offseason lockerrrom snitching proves the Raiders lost their camaraderie. It proves that they weren’t responding to Del Rio. Raiders fans saw that as the team lacked motivation and often looked beaten during games. This prestigious franchise seemed like they were losing the physical battle each week. It was time to move on. Props to Del Rio though. He took getting fired from his dream job in stride. Del Rio got the news directly after a road game but still delivered his post game pressed. I can only imagine the emotions of losing your dream job. As fans, we all dream of doing the job that Del Rio worked his way into. He probably had the same dreams as a kid in the bay. His family and him also did a ton for the community. Del Rio built a foundation and moved the culture forward. Hopefully, Gruden can get the Raiders to the next step. This would be like the Warriors firing Marc Jackson and hiring Steve Kerr. In that same comparison, Gruden has got to win and win fast. He’s got to get this team contending for serious titles each year. He’s got to get a couple of Super Bowls over the next ten years. He’s got to get one with this core group, preferably before the team leaves its home. At the very least, Gruden needs to win a Super Bowl in four years or this could be a huge embarrassment for every one involved.Gruden has got to be more than just an upgrade over Del Rio. Gruden has got to turn the offense around and get the defense playing hard again. He’s got to sell tickets in Oakland and Las Vegas. He’s gotta coexist with Davis and McKenzie to get quality draft picks and feee agents. Can Gruden do all that? That is to be determined.

Raider Nation Rise

If you’re anything like me, than you’re a Los Angeles Raiders fan disappointed you’re not attending the game that is the closest your team has ever been to you in your lifetime.

Nonetheless, the Raiders need a win today. It doesn’t matter that a win will earn them a less important draft pick or another year with a mediocre coaching staff. Oakland needs this win for its fans.

The Raider Nation paying three times regular ticket value to black out the StubHub center deserve a win. The Raiders fans in Oakland facing the fact that they have one more season with their team deserve a win. Those of us who expected a Super Bowl battle deserve a win too.

Sure, all wins matter. This one matters a little more since the Raiders are returning to their second home. The Silver and Black won Lombardi trophies as the Los Angeles and Oakland Raiders in LA. Raider Nation usually packs out Chargers games but this one means more since it’s on our home court.

It also means more cause the Raiders season is basically over. They have nothing to play for but their jobs and coaches jobs. Oh yeah, they have to play for those Raiders and fans who wear the emblem and colors with pride 365 days a year. Those of us wearing our gear in Week 17 with nothing to play for deserve this win. It’s time for the Raiders to play for their fans and it’s time for RaiderNation to rise.

Are the Raiders’ Decision Makers Bold?

The Oakland Raiders suffered an embarrassing loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last week. A seemingly defeated head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t seem like he knew the answers. He insisted that the offense needed to play “Bold.”

Silver and Black QB Derek Carr later said he was going to let it rip because that is what the coaches want. However, I’d push back on Jack Del Rio. How has he or this organization been bold? What example is the team following?

Outside of a few 4th and 1 gambles, when has the coaching staff been bold? Was it bold to fire Ken Norton Jr. after 11 games? He was the sacrificial lamb but he had already had his power compromised by Del Rio and John Pagano. Before Pagano took over, the defense played anything but bold. They were one of the least blitzing teams in the league.

It might have been bold for the Raiders to replace OC Bill Musgrave after he his contract expired. They promoted Todd Downing who never held the title. Downing changed the scheme with more zone blocking and pocket concepts. Is that a bold move or a dumb move?

Was it bold to bring in Marshawn Lynch? Lynch was the hometown heroes of fans. He filled a need at running back.

How about holding onto underperforming players like Reggie Nelson and Sean Smith on defense? Both were supposed to help change the culture of the defense. It is amazing they both find themselves as significant contributors. However, it is an indicator of the talent level on defense. There are hardly any bold playmakers outside of Khalil Mack.

Speaking of the draft, the Raiders have taken some bold gambles. They drafted a corner with off-field incidents and he played well in only two games. Now he is on IR along with our second round pick who needs massive development.

Factor that in with our third round pick in this year’s draft as well as our second and third picks from 2016 and we have a bunch of developmental defensive linemen who might not last in the league. They’ve gotten some flashes from Mario Edwards Jr., Justin Ellis and Denico Autry but they haven’t been dominating enough collectively. Or maybe their coaching hasn’t been bold enough to put them into positions to succeed?

Otherwise, signing Navarro Bowman was a bold move. Except the Raiders were depleted at linebacker which was already the worst position group on the team. Bowman was another no-brainer since he came from a Bay Area native anyways.

The Raiders boldest moves were giving extensions to Gabe Jackson, Jack Del Rio, Derek Carr and Donald Penn. Penn is aging and appears to be on the decline but he is still a solid player. Carr and Jackson have both proven to be franchise building blocks but both have struggled this year. Del Rio had a great year last year but so did this entire team. It actually appears like the team hasn’t rallied around JDR like they have in the previous years.

Ultimately, the amount of money the Raiders dished out to the aforementioned stakeholders was bold. It was bold because it was largely based off one year of elite play and good play the year before.  It’s hard to say it was a worthy gamble considering those stakeholders’ performance this year. Oakland will stick with their investments and that’s pretty bold too.

Thus, the Raiders coaching staff wants the Raiders to play bolder this week but have they been bold? Have they taken risks and let it ripped? It’s arguable that they played it safe by keeping the core of the team together.

Nonetheless, when Oakland did make bold investments and decisions it has rarely paid off. Therefore, don’t blame the players if they play it safe too. Don’t blame them for reinforcing the safe culture established by the coaches.

Don’t get mad at the players for not being bold when you’ve rarely been bold. The coaches need to look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves if they’ve been bold? Because maybe the players are being safe to negative the reckless personnel decisions and safe play calling that has infected the Raiders.