Hindsight is 20/20 and it’s safe to assume that Las Vegas Raiders owner is wishing he didn’t hire Jon Gruden to replace Jack Del Rio in 2018. The head coach resigned from the team on Monday after The New York Times reported on a number of racist, sexist and homophobic emails that he sent during his time away from the NFL. When Davis hired Gruden, he gave him more power than most coaches ever get within an organization.
Prior to Gruden getting hired, Del Rio was only a season removed from a 12-4 campaign that saw the Raiders make their only playoff performance since 2002. The team had a down year in 2017 and finished with a 6-10 record. Instead of giving Del Rio another chance, Davis fired him and made way from Gruden. Del Rio is now the defensive coordinator of the Washington Football Team and had a chance to give his response to the Gruden emails.
“It was, I guess, shocking,” Del Rio said. “Embarrassingly bad for a person in that position – to have those thoughts and then express them like that. I don’t have a lot of respect for that.”
Those are pretty blunt words from Del Rio, who has no reason to have any affectionate feelings towards Gruden.
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Davis Would’ve Kept Del Rio in 2018 Had Gruden Not Taken Job
The current direction of the Raiders could look very different right now had Gruden not finally accepted the job in 2018. In fact, Davis admitted in the past that he would’ve kept Del Rio for at least one more season had Gruden not become available. There’s no guarantee the Raiders would be any better had they not made the coaching change but it’s hard to imagine they’d be in a worse situation than they are now.
For whatever reason, Gruden was Davis’ dream coach but that dream has quickly turned into a nightmare. Del Rio revealed back in 2019 that the owner would constantly tell him that he would hire Gruden the second he got the chance.
“He was always very straightforward with the fact that he was in love with Jon, and if he had the chance, he was going to hire him,” Del Rio told Sports Illustrated’s Jenny Vrentas and Greg Bishop. “He said it every chance he got.”
Del Rio is likely thinking about those conversations right about now.
What Do Raiders Need From Next Head Coach?
With Gruden out, much of the conversation has been surrounding what the Raiders might do at head coach going forward. Rich Bisaccia is the interim head coach but it’s going to take a lot this season for him to keep the job going forward. The Raiders may want to scrub their hands of Gruden completely after the year is over.
While Del Rio had brief success with the Raiders, the team shouldn’t go down the former head coach route. The team would be wise to target a bright, young mind. There should be some strong options available to Las Vegas this offseason.