Following their successful 12-4 2016 regular season and a disappointing first round playoff loss to the Houston Texans, the Oakland Raiders were hoping to build off their first playoff appearance in 14 years. Derek Carr was back from his leg injury, Amari Cooper was coming off over 1,000 yards receiving in his first two seasons in the NFL, and Marshawn Lynch came out of retirement to play for his hometown team.
Instead, the Raiders were a massive disappointment. The Raiders went 6-10 earning them a third place spot in their division only above the Denver Broncos. They would miss the playoffs again for the 14th time in the last 15 years.
The Raiders didn’t wait long to make changes. On Dec. 31, 2017, the Raiders lost their last game of the season 30-10 against the Chargers. Following their loss, the Raiders announced the firing of head coach Jack Del Rio later that same day. Five days later, Jon Gruden was officially named the new head coach.
Gruden coached the Raiders from 1998-2001 in which the Raiders made the playoffs twice including a conference championship appearance in 2001. Following the 2001 season, Gruden was traded to the Buccaneers, something you rarely see happen to coaches. In his first year in Tampa Bay, he led the Bucs to the Super Bowl where they faced the team that traded Gruden away, the Raiders. Tampa Bay beat the Raiders soundly by a score of 48-21 winning the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl. After coaching in Tampa Bay for seven seasons, Gruden was fired after only making the playoffs twice since their Super Bowl win.
Gruden spent his next nine years as a broadcaster for ESPN before the Raiders approached him for the head coaching job.
“[Owner] Mark [Davis] and I have been friends for a long time,” Gruden said in his introductory press conference with the Raiders. “I think over the last six to seven years we have talked about the Raiders. Not necessarily becoming a coach, but maybe ways that we could improve the Raiders or my vision how I thought I could help them.”
Gruden is known for his offensive mind. He works a lot with the offense and prefers to call the plays himself from the sideline. One of Gruden’s most important tasks will be working with quarterback Derek Carr who many think had a subpar season last year.
“He has great arm talent, he’s athletic, he’s got natural leadership skills, he’s young, he’s in his prime, he’s healthy now,” Gruden said of Carr. “I think with Greg Olson and the system we are going to put in place is going to demand a lot from him and I think that is what is going to unlock the greatness in him but very, very excited to have him as our quarterback.”