The debut season of Josh McDaniels with the Las Vegas Raiders didn’t go according to plan. The longtime New England Patriots assistant took over a playoff team that went 10-7 and led them to a 6-11 record. While the team clearly had flaws before he took the job, there’s no reason they should’ve only won six games.
Many fans and media members believe that McDaniels’ first season was bad enough to warrant him getting fired. Owner Mark Davis didn’t feel the same way and offered support for the coach whenever things looked grim. However, the Raiders can’t keep putting together lackluster seasons.
McDaniels survived one 6-11 season but might not survive two. Davis doesn’t want to keep shuffling through head coaches. That’s why he gave Jon Gruden a 10-year contract in 2018 before he had to resign during the 2021 season. In fact, Davis might still be wishing that Gruden was his head coach.
The coach resigned due to several emails containing controversial language were leaked to The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. One fan asked Vic Tafur of The Athletic if the proper move would’ve been to suspend Gruden and wait for the controversy to die down instead of having him resign. Tafur believes that may have worked but also wouldn’t rule out Gruden being hired again in the future if McDaniels doesn’t work out.
“I don’t think Davis is a big regrets guy,” Tafur wrote. “He didn’t want the NFL dictating his actions, but yeah, if he suspends Gruden right away, there is a chance that the second batch of emails is never released. I have joked about it on the podcast, but bringing Gruden back in two to three years if McZieg doesn’t work out wouldn’t shock me.”
Would Bringing Gruden Back Be the Right Move?
The only way that Gruden is even an option for the Raiders in two to three years is if McDaniels completely flops. While his first year with the team was brutal, he can still turn them around with a good offseason. If not, a Gruden return could certainly be on the table. That would be a mistake unless things are different than when they hired him in 2018.
Gruden is a solid coach but he’s one of the worst people in the league when it comes to the draft. Mike Mayock was technically the general manager when Gruden was coaching but everybody knows the coach was calling the shots. At the start of the 2023 season, Josh Jacobs and Kolton Miller will likely be the only Gruden picks from the first three rounds of the 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 drafts that will still be with the team. If the Raiders brought the coach back, they’d have to pair him with a general manager who has control over personnel.
Would Gruden Even Want to Come Back?
It took a lot for Davis to convince Gruden to leave the ESPN booth to return to football. Things didn’t go according to plan as the Raiders didn’t make the playoffs once under the coach. He also saw Rich Bisaccia take over his team as the interim head coach and lead them to the playoffs without him.
Gruden will be 60 when the next NFL season starts and has made plenty of money. He may just prefer to enjoy retirement and try to get back into the media. It’s hard to imagine trying to rebuild the Raiders for a third time would be all that appealing to him.