The Raiders have compiled a record of 19-29 since Jon Gruden returned as head coach in 2018.
As the team begins its second season in Las Vegas, no one really expects that Gruden will be on the hot seat if the season doesn’t result in a playoff appearance. But there are no guarantees in the NFL. So even as the Raiders have ostensibly made some significant improvements to their defense, their competitive division of the AFC West could leave them on the outside looking in when January arrives.
In an interview this week with Vinny Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Gruden wouldn’t go as far as General Manager Mike Mayock did last week in setting playoff expectations. The head coach also said he’s not feeling additional pressure to succeed entering the fourth season of his second stint with the franchise.
“I don’t really feel pressure,” Gruden said. “Mark Davis is going to let me know if it’s good enough or not. And I know what’s good and what isn’t. I’m 58-years-old now, and I’m not working any less than I did when I was 38.
“So I’m doing the best I can. I’m proud of the results we have gotten, but also realistic. I know what’s at stake. But I’m not going to worry about it.”
When Gruden got to the Raiders back in 2018, the team famously traded edge rusher Khalil Mack and receiver Amari Cooper, receiving multiple first-round picks to kickstart the team’s rebuild. Gruden told Bonsignore that he’s enjoyed the process because coaches have to develop players.
“I’m not going to say we didn’t want Khalil Mack here or Amari Cooper,” Gruden said. “But you have to look at a lot of things. You have to look at the budget of the team. You have to look at the desires of the players, too. What they want.
“The big thing is, whether it’s the General Manager, the assistant coach, the head coach, the scouting department, the salary cap guy, the owner. Whoever wants to be involved in acquiring the player, the big thing is when we do get the players here, let’s get the quarterback to play great. No matter what else we do, let’s get the quarterback to play the best he can play. If the quarterback’s playing good, you have a chance every week. That’s what I know.”
Quarterback Derek Carr has performed well under Gruden, but the defense has been the club’s biggest issue over the last two years. If that’s been fixed under new coordinator Gus Bradley, then neither Gruden nor anyone else will really need to feel pressure because the team should be successful.