The return of Jon Gruden: back to the black hole

Jordan Dean
Staff writer 

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On Tuesday, Jan. 9, Jon Gruden signed a reported 10 year, $100 million head coaching contract in his return to the Black Hole of Oakland Raider nation, where he coached from 1998 to 2001 as their head football coach. In his brief term, Gruden had a record of 40 - 28 (including playoffs).

The big question: can he adjust to the new day and age of the NFL since the last time he had a headset on back in 2008? Though, he has been an ESPN Monday Night Football broadcaster for the NFL since 2009 staying heavily involved in the NFL, there is a big difference between the two jobs. Breaking down what’s occurring on the field and teaching during practice and games are on opposite sides of the spectrum in the football world.

Gruden is an offensive minded head coach, which bodes well in Oakland. When all the pieces are healthy, he does get to work with some great athletes: a top 10 offense with a young, proven gunslinger Derek Carr, a top tier offensive line, two extremely talented wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, and Marshawn Lynch who, though near the end of his career, can still be a productive running back in the NFL under the right scheme.

In any level of coaching football, a head coach is as good as the staff that surrounds him. Gruden has not solidified his entire staff yet, but has hired his defensive coordinator, Paul Guenther, who worked for the Cincinnati Bengals for the past four seasons. In that spanned of time, the Bengals defense has been in the top 10 in pass defense every season. However, also one of the worst in rush defense all four years. The Raiders have a pro-bowler on both their defensive line and linebacker unit. The front seven will be heavily addressed this off season under Gruden.

On the offensive side of the football, Gruden made it clear during his introductory press conference that his intentions are to call the plays for the offense, though still hiring an offensive coordinator who is coming from a Los Angeles Rams. Greg Olsen served as the quarterback coach, who led quarterback Jared Goff to a stellar 2017-18 season. It will be interesting to see how coach Gruden and Olsen mesh in Oakland.

I believe Gruden was brought in to Oakland more than his coaching ability. The hire brings excitement to Oakland and improves ticket sales for the Raider organization after a tough six and 10, 2017 season. Gruden was not the best coach available to bring into Oakland strictly in a coaching sense with assistant coaches like Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur who turned quarterback Case Keenum’s career around helping him lead the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game. Coach Shurmur, in my opinion, should have been their number one target this off season.

The New York Giants are very grateful not a lot of other teams target him, especially with the report that the Raiders only interviewed two other coaches: Bobby Johnson, who at that time was their tight ends coach, and Tee Martin, the current offensive coordinator for the University of Southern California to satisfy the Rooney Rule. With the Raiders interview process, they clearly had no intention of hiring either one of those coaches when they knew Gruden was a realistic possibility.The Raiders did not test the coaching waters as well as they could of. If Oakland wanted to win Super Bowl Championships, Gruden was not the hire to make that happen. He will be out of Oakland in the next five years, and the Raiders will be right back to square one.