It’s only been three years since Jon Gruden returned to the Raiders but confidence in his ability as a coach has started to wane for many. He may have a Super Bowl under his belt but Gruden hasn’t led a team to more than 10 wins since 2005. The most frustrating thing about his second stint with the Raiders is that the team was in a position to make the playoffs in 2019 and 2020 but fell apart.
Owner Mark Davis isn’t going to fire Gruden barring an unforeseen circumstance but the veteran coach should be feeling pressure to win. Davis gave him a ton of money so he can stay patient. However, the fan base lost patience a long time ago. Another non-winning season and Gruden could be in trouble. In fact, Chris Roling of Bleacher Report believes that the coach is already on the hot seat:
Simply put, a team doesn’t invest in a big name like Gruden to hit 8-8. His era started with the trades of players like Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack only for the Raiders to underperform. Despite his name recognition, he should probably enter his fourth year with the franchise on the hot seat.
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Is It Premature to Suggest Gruden Is on Hot Seat?
Gruden isn’t in any danger of getting fired right now. Even if the Raiders miss the playoffs again next season, general manager Mike Mayock would likely get fired before the coach. Davis gave Gruden that massive contract because he believes that the man is an excellent coach.
There are a lot of other people who would go down before Gruden. Like it or not, he likely controls his own destiny. He’s going to be the Raiders’ head coach until he decides he doesn’t want to be anymore.
Raiders Are in Good Position Heading Into 2021
The Raiders should’ve made the playoffs in 2019 and they definitely should’ve in 2020. There’s no reason the team should’ve collapsed through the last six games over the last two seasons. After Week 11 in 2019 and 2020, the Raiders are a combined 3-9.
The main problem facing Las Vegas is that the defense isn’t good. The team had to fire defensive coordinator Paul Guenther during the season and recently hired Gus Bradley to replace him. Bradley has a track record of success and it’s hard to imagine that he can’t at least slightly improve the defense.
The Raiders’ offense is set. Derek Carr has played at a high level and he’s surrounded by weapons and a strong offensive line. If Bradley can turn the defense into at least an average group, there’s no reason to believe the Raiders aren’t in the playoffs next season. The team has seen the playoffs just once since 2002. The fan base is starved for some wins and they’re growing more and more impatient. 2021 needs to be the year for the team to finally break away from almost two decades of mediocrity. If they can’t, then it might be time for another change.