The Raiders are 2-0 after pretty impressively defeating the Saints in their first game in Las Vegas, and I have to put my hand up and admit that I might have been wrong about Jon Gruden.
When Gruden returned to coaching, after 10 years away and 16 years since his last playoff victory, I thought it was going to be an unmitigated disaster. I was supremely skeptical that he would connect with a new generation of players and a 10-year contract felt like a gigantic buyout waiting to happen. Trading away his best players in Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper as the Raiders went 11-21 in his first two years back emboldened my point.
But in watching the Raiders closely on Monday night, I saw a team full of exciting young players executing a sharp game plan. Did you ever think you’d watch a primetime game where Derek Carr overwhelmingly outplayed Drew Brees? Jon Gruden and the Raiders might actually be Good.
Look how happy the team was last night:
Jon Gruden has his locker room all in. This is awesome.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) September 22, 2020
Reflecting on that Mack trade, which Gruden was universally panned for in the media, this morning Albert Breer talked about the great players who wound up Raiders as a result of it:
And that's nothing against Mack. Great player. Bears did well to get him. But the equation for the Raiders had to be: How much will Mack have left when we're ready to contend? And will that be worth the $$$?
Instead of Mack, they have 4 really good young players on rookie deals.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 22, 2020
The Raiders play the Patriots on Sunday at 1:00 pm in a game that is all sorts of interesting. If Gruden pulls that one out, all of a sudden people are going to be talking about the Raiders as legitimate contenders.