What once a promising season for the Las Vegas Raiders turned into a massive disappointment. They went from 7-9 last season to 8-8 this season. It was an improvement but not by much.
Owner Mark Davis has invested a lot into the team. He spent a boatload of money to sign Jon Gruden and moved to Las Vegas this season. Just like his father, he wants nothing more than for the Raiders to get back to the playoffs. Unfortunately, Gruden hasn’t gotten it done yet. In a recent Q&A with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Davis was asked about his assessment of the performances of Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock. He still believes in them despite the disappointing season:
But this season — and I’ve said it many, many, many times — life got in the way with the virus. It’s just hard to judge things based on any continuity. You’re being coached on Zoom calls, the rookies didn’t have a chance to have a normal beginning to their (careers). It’s really hard to put any kind of grade on the season, except to say we didn’t get to where we expected to be. But yes, I’m happy with (the leadership).
It’s true that this season was very trying but it was like that for every team. The Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns and Tampa Buccaneers all finished with the same or worse records than the Raiders last season. This year, all three teams won 10+ games. Gruden and company really don’t have any excuse.
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Davis Season Was ‘Not Good Enough’
Despite the fact that Davis is still happy with Mayock and Gruden, he acknowledges that the 2020 season was a disappointment:
That’s clearly not good enough. It has never been good enough for us, but we haven’t done much better in the last 20 years. We went 12-4 in 2016 and were one-and-done in the playoffs. So there hasn’t been any real progress. We are hoping that we’re building something here. At the same time, results are the only thing that speaks. That’s what speaks to me and we just haven’t done it yet.
The most frustrating thing about the 2020 season was the fact that the Raiders started off 6-3 with wins over three playoff teams (Saints, Chiefs, Browns). Just as it did in 2019, the wheels fell off and the team failed to make the playoffs. Davis is right, 2020 wasn’t good enough.
Raiders ‘Have to Make Progress’
Davis is playing nice right now but he can only be so patient. Two years in a row, he’s seen his team with a clear path to the playoffs more than halfway through the season and two years in a row, the Raiders fell apart down the stretch. Davis knows the team has to be better in 2021:
This coming year, we have to make progress. There is no doubt about it, no question about it. We have to make progress. The defensive coordinator is going to be a very important part of this — watch our games and you see that. We have to make progress. I don’t believe anybody in that building feels any differently.
Everybody knows that Davis loves Gruden but he also loves winning. If the Raiders fail to make the playoffs once again, the coach could start losing some of his power. That said, the team is headed in the right direction and should win at least 10 games if they nail the defensive coordinator hire and bring in some good talent.