Against all odds, the Las Vegas Raiders somehow made the playoffs this season. The team lost head coach Jon Gruden early in the season after a slew of racist, homophobic and sexist emails were leaked to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Rich Bisaccia was promoted to interim head coach after Gruden resigned and the team won two decisive games over the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles heading into the bye week.
The Raiders had a lot of momentum going for them before star wide receiver Henry Ruggs was involved in a car accident that left a 23-year-old woman and her dog dead. Ruggs was promptly cut and the Raiders lost five of their next six. In Gruden’s previous two seasons, the team started off hot only to collapse at the end of the season. It looked like that would be the case again this season even though he was gone. However, the team reeled off four straight wins to end the year and made the playoffs.
According to Mike Silver of Bally Sports, one Raiders player believes that the lack of a late-season collapse was directly attributed to how Bisaccia coached them.
“We didn’t have Gruden grinding us late in the year,” a Raiders veteran told Silver. “Gruden would kill us, and we would fall apart. The reason this team played so well down the stretch is that Rich listened to the players and took it easy over the back half of the season.”
It’s hard to argue against that logic as this unnamed veteran was presumably with the team over the last couple of seasons.
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Player Has Warning About Hiring ‘Rock Star’ Coach
This information is coming out at an important time as the Raiders decide who will be the next head coach. Bisaccia is in the mix but owner Mark Davis appears wary of hiring an interim coach to run his team. There have been big names like Jim Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin linked to the job.
Those two are proven winners and that has to be appealing to Davis. However, one player believes that hiring a big-name coach would lead to disaster.
“There is so much here to build on, if they don’t blow this up,” the veteran player told Silver. “If they hire a ‘rock star,’ it’s a full-blown rebuild. It will set the team back a decade.”
Now, not hiring Bisaccia doesn’t mean the Raiders will enter a rebuild. Harbaugh and Tomlin have never had a losing season in the NFL. Odds are that they’d be able to take a Raiders team that made the playoffs and turn them into Super Bowl contenders. While Bisaccia did a great job, it remains to be seen if he can lead a team to the Super Bowl.
Player Praises Bisaccia
Regardless of what Davis decides to do, Bisaccia deserves a ton of praise for the job he did. This Raiders team could’ve easily fallen apart after the Gruden and Ruggs situations but persevered. Bisaccia is a major reason for that.
“Rich has a calm presence,” another player told Silver. “He has a good pulse on the entire team, being a special teams guy. He’s not a rah-rah guy or a great motivator, but he is passionate and guys love him. Everyone’s pulling for Rich. He deserves the job.”
Bisaccia should receive consideration for the job, especially if the Raiders can’t land a big name.