Jon Gruden is making a case for coach of the year


If the NFL coach of the year award went to the best coach in the NFL, Bill Belichick would win it every year. But the prize is determined, as a practical matter, by the extent to which a coach pushes him team over and above its loose, general expectations when the season began.

When the season began in Oakland, no one expected much from the Raiders. Reeling from the abrupt termination of receiver Antonio Brown, who had been nothing but a distraction during his limited time with the team, the Raiders could have fallen apart. They didn’t.

Now, with a 5-4 record and upcoming games against the Bengals and Jets, the Raiders could be 7-4 after 11 games. And if they finish with a playoff berth, Gruden will be a clear finalist for the only prominent individual award given to any head coach.

Gruden’s not the only candidate, at this point. The leader comes from the other Bay Area franchise, given the performance of the 8-0 49ers under Kyle Shanahan. Others to watch include Packers coach Matt LaFleur, Colts coach Frank Reich, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, Bills coach Sean McDermott, and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.

Then there are the coaches who have fought through adversity, resulting from quarterback injury. From Steelers coach Mike Tomlin (who lost Ben Roethlisberger in Week Two) to Panthers coach Ron Rivera (who lost Cam Newton in Week Two) to Saints coach Sean Payton (who went 5-0 without Drew Brees) to Chiefs coach Andy Reid (who beat the Vikings and almost the Packers with a guy who was out of football in 2018).

This one remains wide open, and it won’t come into focus until the playoff field is set. For now, though, Gruden’s candidacy needs to be taken seriously — especially if the Raiders end up playing beyond Week 17.

51 responses to “Jon Gruden is making a case for coach of the year

  1. So after reading this, is there anyone that isn’t a candidate? If we are saying Gruden gets it because nobody expected much, then Shanahan is light years ahead of him. Oakland has to win their next 2 games to get to 7-4. San Francisco could lose 4 straight and still be 8-4 and nobody expected much from them. Like you said, however, we’ll need to play alot more football before we know.

  2. Being honest I thought the Raiders would be terrible, but it’s pretty clear Mayock has drafted really well. Their young guys fly around and play hard and are well coached. They have a lot of picks coming still too, so this team could be strong in another year or two.

  3. I can see the Niners, Bills and Raiders on that list, but most of those other teams didn’t make the leaps and bounds that these three have made. I don’t count QB injuries as adversity for the coach. That falls on the team. Next man up.
    Considering that the Raiders have such outstanding performance from their rookies (most rookie TDs in the NFL and QB pressure from DEs Crosby and Ferrell), yeah I think he should definitely be up there. Their Rookie class has proven to be one of the best ever. If they win the next 3 games (including Chefs), Gruden should get it.

  4. Not a Gruden fan. I’ve said before that I really don’t think he’s all that. So gotta’ admit, he’s got that team headed in the right direction and they’ve totally bought in.

  5. I hate to agree with Tokyo, but let’s wait until Zimmer beats a team he shouldn’t beat before listing him as a coach of the year candidate. The Vikings have done exactly as they were expected to do so far.

  6. What about Pat Shurmur! Maybe just a pat on the back for Pat. According to the Giants he was the only candidate that felt like an ‘adult’ when they were interviewing. Obviously whoever is making the decisions has terrible, terrible judgement. Have to take hats off to ravens leadership they hired a special teams coach as the HC and let the coordinators focus on coordinating. It’s worked out pretty well for them.

  7. Gruden’s coaching was awful in 2018 so the bar for the Raiders was pretty low in 2019 – I didn’t expect more than 4 or 5 wins for the entire season.

    If the Raiders win 9 to 11 games this year and get to the playoffs then I’ll agree that Gruden deserves coach of the year accolades. If they win 7 or 8 games then I don’t think he should be in the running because that would be basically a return to the level they were at under Del Riot although I’ll admit that it’s still more than I expected under Gruden.

  8. Khalil Mack has disappeared since the Bears bye week, the Bears 2nd round pick from Oakland is decreasing in value and the Raiders 1st rounder from Chicago will likely be in the top 8. May be time to re-evaluate who really won that trade.

  9. Gruden really but off a lot, I know he’s being rewarded for it but he really bit off a lot and he’s somehow put it all together, the draft picks and the free agents.

    Mayock has been a dream at GM, a lot of people laughed when they hired him and I never did understand why, but they aren’t laughing now.

  10. The Pensky File says:
    November 8, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    The three greatest coaches of all time
    1. Madden
    2. Flores
    3. Gruden


    I’ll agree with Madden & Flores. But Gruden in 3rd?

    The Raiders were 9-33 in their first 3 years and Al Davis as HC turned them into a powerhouse before becoming AFL commissioner. John Rauch was 33-8-1 as Raiders HC and they went to their first Super Bowl under him.

    Gruden in his first stint as Raiders HC didn’t have his first winning season until his 3rd year and statistically he was no better than Art Shell was in Shell’s first Raiders stint.

    I would put Gruden in a 5th place tie with Shell among all-time Raiders HCs.

  11. Uh, no! He didn’t cause Phyllis Rivers to throw 3 picks. If SD, a bad team who was on the road, beats them last night, are you saying this?

    26-24, it was a horrible game that one bad team had to win.

  12. If the NFL coach of the year award went to the best coach in the NFL, Bill Belichick would win it every year. —– And if it went to gibberish spewing, double-talking, nonsensical poseurs it would go to Honest Mike Tomlin every year. Heck … it would be named after him.

  13. This award is based on what you’ve accomplished at the end of the regular season. I don’t see how anyone but Kyle Shanahan wins the award.

  14. Gruden has done an excellent job. Nice to see Gruden getting credit after how he was universally smeared last year.

    Most believed this season would be another disaster with the AB saga…but not everyone.

    sigbouncer says:
    September 7, 2019 at 10:33 am

    This young Raiders team will bond and show that they are more than just a one man team. There are still many high quality offensive weapons on this team. The offensive line is going to be extremely good.

  15. The only reason expectations were in the toilet this year was because he lowered them with his awful coaching in 2018. The Raiders are barely doing what people thought they should’ve been doing when Gruden first started. NOT even close to coach of the year

  16. It has to be McDermott. He has the Bills in place to make the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. The Bills, in the playoffs. Case rested.

  17. Is Shanahan wins it that will help eplain why all the “experts” panned the 49ers expectations pre-season. People with integrity and a modicum of eduction knew the team would be good.

  18. Is Shanahan wins it that will help eplain why all the “experts” panned the 49ers expectations pre-season. People with integrity and a modicum of eduction knew the team would be good.

  19. Given that the fraud Mack was offloaded for a King’s Ramson, it looks like the Raidahs knew what they were doing. Look at Chicago now. That defense is worthless and the offense is invisible. Mack went from playing for two quarters with one or two highlights per week to disappearing like Aaron Donald in the playoffs!

  20. Kyle Shanahan will probbaly win it, and probably should. But the media was WAY too hard on Gruden over trading Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack. Way too hard. It was almost like they had an agenda. Wasn’t so much on this site (maybe I’m remembering incorrectly) as it was on ESPN, and some major papers.

    Gruden has proven he’s a good coach. Yes, he was out a long time. But he’s not 76. Let’s see how it plays out. People can do good coverage without such a rush to judgment. Too much “sports news” now is actually opinion (see Bayless, Skip; any ESPN “NFL Live” broadcast; etc).

  21. What other team in football has been an underdog in 8 of their games (the only game they were the favorite was by 1 point) and yet has a winning record?

  22. I, like most other Vikings fans, love Zim. However, he isn’t a great head coach. He is a great defensive mind and coach but I’m not sure how he is in the running for Coach of the Year unless they go undefeated the rest of the way (0% chance of that happening).

  23. Gruden is a leading candidate because he has a starting quarterback with a lifetime win-loss record of 37-50, and yet this season his team is 5-4. Shanahan, OTOH, cannot be given the credit for being 8-0 this season, because Jimmy G. was 5-0 in 2017 when Shanahan was the coach but Shanahan was 1-11 without Jimmy G. as the starter, and Shanahan was 3-10 as a head coach in 2018 without Jimmy G. (1-2 with Jimmy G. as starter).

  24. People forget that he was basically a boy genius when he was OC way back. Oh – then he won a Superbowl as HC.

    He’s doing a fantastic job right now w/ that team.

  25. Wisconsin Narcissists says:
    November 9, 2019 at 12:20 am

    Love the way Gruden shook the fans hands and gave them hugs in the stands after the win. He did it at the last home game too. Very very cool.


    That’s actually one of the main reasons I dislike Gruden going back to 1998. Actions like this are those that are reserved for politicians rather than HCs.

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