Since Mike Mayock became the Raiders’ General Manager in 2019, the club has gone through two fairly similar seasons.
In their last year in Oakland, the Raiders got off to a 6-4 start before losing five of their last six to end up 7-9. In 2020, the newly-minted Las Vegas Raiders were 6-3 before dropping five of their last seven to end the year 8-8.
The team made a lot of changes heading into 2021, particularly on defense with new coordinator Gus Bradley. But while no one really thinks head coach Jon Gruden will end up on the hot seat as he begins the fourth season of his second stint with the franchise, things could be different for Mayock in his third.
So it’s with that backdrop that in his Wednesday press conference, Mayock made it clear the Raiders should reach the 2021 postseason.
“We’ve assembled 53 players. We think we’re going to be a pretty good football team,” Mayock said. “We’re not hiding from expectations. I think Jon and I would both tell you that we feel like we need to be a playoff team this year. And I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. And you guys are all going to put that in your headlines and I understand it. But that’s what the expectation is. We think we’ve done the infrastructure work necessary to put us in position. We’ve got to take care of business.”
Having worked in media for decades, Mayock rightly knew his declaration about the playoffs was going to garner headlines. That’s not really a groundbreaking thought for any franchise with a fourth-year head coach and third-year G.M. But the fact that he said it out loud is notable all the same.
If the Raiders make the postseason for the first time since 2016 — and only the second time since losing the Super Bowl in 2002 — then Mayock’s words won’t mean much later. But if they fail to do so, there may be significant consequences across the organization.