As the Las Vegas Raiders attempt to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016, all eyes will be on general manager Mike Mayock if the team struggles. That may not be entirely fair as Jon Gruden has the final say regarding roster moves but there will need to be a fall guy at some point. Mayock is the logical choice.
The general manager had no experience in an NFL front office prior to taking the Raiders so it’s easy to point fingers at him. Even Mayock himself knows that. He got pretty candid with NFL Network’s Rich Eisen as the Raiders get set for Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens.
“If we don’t win more games I’m probably going to be back there sitting next to you,” Mayock told Eisen. “I’m not big on the elephant in the room, Rich. I’m 63 and I’m pretty pragmatic and I knew what I was getting into. I’ve been a football person my whole and at the end of the day you either win enough games or you don’t. And for me, I think we’re getting to a critical juncture. We’ve got to win some games.”
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Is Mayock Truly on the Hot Seat?
Mayock’s self-awareness is welcome but is he truly on the hot seat? Yes, he is. One of the reasons the Raiders have struggled since he took over has been due to a series of poor roster decisions in free agency and the draft. Obviously, that’s not all on Mayock but as the general manager, he will get the blame.
Gruden understands that and could be inclined to give Mayock the benefit of the doubt if the Raiders perform well enough and just barely miss the playoffs. However, owner Mark Davis‘ patience has to be wearing thin. He’s set to welcome fans into the brand new Allegiant Stadium for the first time and it’ll be hard to win over a new fan base if the team keeps missing the playoffs. Mayock’s going to be feeling the pressure all season.
Can the Raiders Actually Make the Playoffs?
A playoff berth would cure a lot of issues for the Raiders. Mayock’s job would likely be safe and of pressure would be taken off Gruden. Derek Carr would get a contract extension and everybody would be happy. However, it remains to be seen if the team is good enough to make that happen.
Every year there are a number of teams who break through mediocrity and put together a great season. The Raiders could have what it takes to be one of those teams. It all starts with the defense. The team hired a new defensive coordinator in Gus Bradley in the offseason and added several notable players. There are still some questions in the secondary but the Raiders should improve on defense this season. If the offense even just slightly improves over last season while the defense finishes as one of the top-20 in the NFL, Las Vegas should be in the playoffs. Anything less and it’ll be hard to make it in a loaded AFC.