The “once a Raider, always a Raider” vibe doesn’t keep a former Raider from questioning the current Raiders.
Hall of Fame defensive back Rod Woodson, who spent two years playing for the Raiders and four seasons on the coaching staff, isn’t a fan of the current direction of the team under old-new coach Jon Gruden.
Appearing in FS1’s Undisputed, Woodson questioned some of the personnel decisions made by the team in 2018.
“I don’t want to sound like a scorned lover because I was fired by the Raiders,” Woodson said, via Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “I love Mark Davis, I love the Davis family. But you can’t tell me you got rid of Michael Crabtree, you put Jordy Nelson in there, and Jordy Nelson is better than Michael Crabtree. That’s a lie. And I love Derek Carr. Derek Carr is not Aaron Rodgers. That’s completely different. You can’t tell me you bring in Doug Martin and they’re a better football team.”
Woodson also questioned the decision to give Gruden an eight-figure annual salary.
“I understand Gruden, wonderful on his TV gig, did some wonderful things as a coach, but he only won 53 percent of his games,” Woodson said. “Ten years, $100 million. I hope Mark Davis has an out. My question would be, how many Super Bowls do you have to win for $100 million? You give that deal to Bill Belichick. But to a Jon Gruden? It’s hard for me to understand.”
Although Reggie McKenzie remains the G.M., Woodson sees Gruden’s fingerprints on the decision to dump Crabtree for Nelson.
“Crabtree was the glue to that offense,” Woodson said. “He gave them a backbone. He gave them toughness. Jordy Nelson is not going to give them that. Derek Carr is not going to give them that. Now Marshawn Lynch, he could give them that, if he’s there, if he’s playing, I don’t know what’s with that.”
Lynch, based on his revised contract, most likely will be there. The question is whether the success will be there, especially for the investment made in Gruden.
“He goes to the Super bowl and he wins with Tony Dungy’s team,” Woodson said. “My question is how many Super Bowls do you have to win if you’re Mark Davis to justify $100 million?”
Actually, none. Gruden needs merely to create a plausible sense every year that the Raiders could win the Super Bowl, since that’s what sell tickets and premium seats and suites and merchandise.
For 2018, it’s working. They simply need to win enough games that they’ll reasonably be expected to be competitive in 2019 and beyond. Given the kick in the ass that Gruden brought to the Tampa offense 16 years ago, chances are the Raiders will at least be better than they were a year ago — which should be enough to get people to think they’ll be even better in 2019 and good enough in 2020.