Sometimes reading between the lines can tell a story, which Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden proved Friday. After the team’s tough 34-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers and undrafted free-agent quarterback Nick Mullens, Gruden took a unique approach while speaking to reporters. Although his team had just been pushed aside by a quarterback who was playing in his first career NFL game, one message was similar to what we’ve heard consistently.
As ESPN first revealed, Gruden stuck to the whole building a “championship football team” angle after the Raiders fell to 1-7 on the season.
“I know it’s not looking pretty right now. But we’re going to build a championship football team here.” Gruden said.
While those comments grabbed more than a bit of attention, it’s what Gruden said when asked about the effort of Raiders players that jumped off the page. As Matt Schneidman of the Bay Area News Group revealed, the coach tip-toed around the topic, but wouldn’t praise the team’s effort.
“I don’t think so,” Gruden said when asked if he can praise his team’s effort again. “I’m not going to say anything about the effort. I know there were some big plays and I thought the guys fought until the end. Offensively, I know we were depleted up front, had some guys playing out of position. Defensively, I thought they hung in there under some dire situations late in the game, but I’ll take a look at the tape.”
Raiders’ Showing Against 49ers & Future Outlook
For a team that looks primed for the No. 1 pick, it’s easy to look back at the many moves made this offseason and evaluate where things went wrong. Obviously, paying so many free agents instead of potentially extending Khalil Mack (and in turn, trading him) was a start. Unfortunately, not even Mack would have been able to save the day in this loss.
The Raiders offense was a shell of the team most expected to see. They had 242 total yards of offense and 140 through the air while watching Mullens help the 49ers offense roll past their defense. San Francisco wrapped up the night with 405 total yards, 262 passing yards and didn’t turn the ball over.
Oakland needs to figure out their identity, but if being brutally honest, that’s going to be tough to do this season. For the Raiders, it’s more about hoping Gruden’s rebuild pans out over the next season or two.