Through the first 10 games of the 2020 season, the Las Vegas Raiders looked like legit playoff contenders. They had impressive wins over the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns. Unfortunately, the team fell apart after a Week 11 loss to the Chiefs. After starting 6-3, the Raiders lost five of their last seven games.
The late-season collapse didn’t seem to make sense. The Raiders had a much easier schedule to end the season and should’ve walked into the playoffs. However, a concerning report was recently dropped by The Atheltic’s Vic Tafur that may show why the team fell apart.
Wide receiver Nelson Agholor was one of the team’s best players in 2020. He was the Raiders’ leading wide receiver and became a strong leader. After a 25-26 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 16, that team should’ve won had it not been for a defensive collapse, Agholor lost his cool with the team.
“Agholor, in the words of teammates, was pissed,” Tafur wrote. “The receiver walked to the middle of the locker room before coach Jon Gruden addressed the team and started screaming at them.”
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Agholor Told Teammates They ‘Sucked’
Tafur then dropped some more specifics on what Agholor had to say to his teammates:
Agholor, according to those in the room, said his teammates were selfish and didn’t work hard enough, and that they had quit against the Dolphins as well as in the previous two losses. He said there was no accountability in the locker room, and on winning teams players play for one another and the coaches. The Raiders’ performance over the previous six games was unacceptable, and too many people within the team were just flat-out accepting it.
Agholor told his teammates that they sucked.
According to Tafur, the room fell silent after Agholor’s rant and head coach Jon Gruden didn’t even have a reply. Tafur reached out to the coach about the incident and simply texted him: “I love Agholor.” That’s not exactly a strong rebuttal.
This Report Is Wildly Concerning
While three straight losing seasons under Gruden is worrisome enough, this report from Tafur is the most damning look at the current Raiders regime yet. How is it possible that Gruden couldn’t convince a team in the middle of a playoff race to be accountable? The coach is supposed to be an excellent motivator and he’s specifically drafted players who love football.
Out of all the issues on this, motivation and accountability shouldn’t be among them. This whole fiasco falls on general manager Mike Mayock and Gruden. They haven’t filled the team with enough strong leadership. The Raiders don’t have a bad team. They could’ve easily made the playoffs last season and this season. The problem is that Gruden himself isn’t accountable. Owner Mark Davis gave the coach way too much leverage when he handed him a massive 10-year contract. It’s clear that his lack of accountability is permeating throughout the team.
Can Gruden Fix This Situation?
Talent and defensive issues can be fixed. The team brought in a top defensive coordinator in Gus Bradley and can sign/draft players to fix the defense. However, Gruden runs the ship. If he’s not willing to change his approach, it could be really bad for the team. Now, it must be mentioned that Raiders cornerback Daryl Worley denied the report from Tafur.
Tafur isn’t in the business of making up stories so take what you will from Worley’s comments. Regardless of what happened, two straight late-season collapses is a really bad look. Gruden clearly isn’t doing enough to keep his team accountable. 2021 is a very important year for this team. If they miss the playoffs again, things are just going to get worse.