It’s impossible to predict what Jon Gruden and the Raiders will do this offseason. Insiders or anyone else is claiming they know is fooling themselves.
I don’t think Gruden even knows what he’s gonna do. Gruden hasn’t coached a game in nearly a decade. The game has changed exponentially since then. He wouldn’t be smart to think within his own constraints. Good coaches adjust and adapt. Gruden will need to do that no matter what plans are already on his drawing board.
Beyond that, he’s gotta adapt to the Reggie McKenzie Raiders. This time around, Oakland has a semi-regular organization and structure. However, McKenzie has built the organization in his way. How will Reggie’s roster mesh with Gruden’s vision? What parts of Gruden’s vision are worth compromise? Can the two egos operate in cohesion? How long will that take?
Sure, Gruden is getting a $10 million bag not to get the guys who he wants but the Raiders have made progress under McKenzie. How much does Gruden respect that? My bet is they will go with the path of least resistance immediately. At least while they’re trying to stir the trip towards Las Vegas.
That’s another issue. Relocation is hanging over the Raiders in the next year or two. We can’t act like that isn’t an issue. Players and administration uprooting their lives in a year or two. Some might buy in but others might struggle to adapt. That’s a variable when recruiting free agents, even if money talks.
Plus, Gruden doesn’t have the legendary Al Davis lingering over him anymore. That could very well be a relief but Chuckie doesn’t have a legendary football mind to lean on anymore. He doesn’t have a scapegoat at the top.
How will Gruden handle Mark Davis being his new boss? Even if the two are friends, how will their relationship handle the new dynamics? Can Mark Davis effectively push and motivate Gruden?
Gruden isn’t coaching the same game he coached a decade ago. This isn’t the same roster. This isn’t the same organization. These aren’t the same fans either.
Sure, the Black Hole raised Gruden. They will just as easily spit him out. Not because they don’t care about him. They will do it because they deserve a winner. Gruden is taking the savior title and Oakland will be on him to deliver. If he fails, he will fail the black hole and the entire city.
Thus, anyone expecting the same old Gruden is kidding themselves. He went to Tampa and did broadcasting. He better be different.
The Oakland Raiders don’t need that same Gruden, they need a better one. They need someone who can handle coaching and navigating all these different variables.
Gruden’s got a long way to go. He’s gotta adapt to new rules in a new game. New organization structure too. It isn’t going to be as easy as him picking up where he left off.
The only thing we should expect from Gruden is something totally different. We got to wait and see. Wait and watch as we see the new Gruden style and scheme develop in a new context.
That’s the exciting thing about this new era. No one really knows what will happen. No one knows if this will be a success or failure. We can’t rely on Gruden’s past data because that was a long time ago. We can’t rely on the Raiders most recent history because they’ve never had a coach like Gruden.
Gruden will shake up the entire organization and the entire process. That begins this offseason. We will see how he adapts his scheme and style to the new game. We will see how this roster adapts to him.
I, for one, can not wait to see this all unfold. I can’t wait to see Gruden handle all these variables. I can’t wait for the offseason to really unfold so we will have a better idea of how Gruden and the Raiders will adapt in the new era.