Raiders Rumors: Jon Gruden Not Facing Win-Now Mandate from Owner Mark Davis

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 2, 2021

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 03: Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden walks onto the field before a game between the Denver Broncos and the Las Vegas Raiders at Empower Field at Mile High on January 3, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jon Gruden's Las Vegas Raiders have gone just 19-29 in the first three years of his second stint as their head coach. For now, however, his job appears to be safe.

According to Peter King of Pro Football Talk, Gruden is "not under any win-now mandate from the owner [Mark Davis]. [General manager] Mike Mayock, I don't know."

When King asked Gruden if he was "pissed" that the team hasn't had a great record under his watch, the head coach replied:

"I'm not pissed. I'm excited about the progress we've made. We weren't very good. We had, I think, 20 new starters my first year. Our second year, we got off to a pretty good start. We lost our right tackle. We lost our right guard. We lost our featured back down the stretch. We struggled. And we lost games against Jacksonville and Denver late in the year. You gotta really see it to believe how we lost those games. Got off to a good start last year. Decimated at times because of [COVID-19]. We had a tough schedule. But we were in the playoff hunt last couple years until the latter part of the season. I think we are improving. But I don't like to lose. I don't like hearing 19-29. I do like the feeling of progress. We were 6-2 in the West. 6-2 on the road, that's pretty good. We gotta continue to get better obviously at home."

The Raiders have made strides under Gruden, going from 4-12 in his first season to 7-9 in 2019 and 8-8 last year. But anything less than a postseason appearance this year is going to be deemed a disappointment. 

Another concern is that the team's first-round picks in the Gruden and Mayock era have been hit or miss. 

Kolton Miller and Josh Jacobs have been nice hits. Clelin Ferrell has been a huge miss. Johnathan Abram—who has been switched to linebacker in Gus Bradley's defense from safety—and Damon Arnette need to show more.

"We need more production out of that group," Mayock told King regarding Ferrell, Abram and Arnette. "But we've been able to have an offseason this year, and we've had great attendance in the building."

Henry Ruggs III gets some benefit of the doubt, since wideouts often develop more slowly than other positions and his explosiveness is undeniable. But a rookie season of 26 catches for 452 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games was a bit of a letdown. 

Normally, some questionable decisions in the first round of the draft wouldn't fall on a head coach. But Gruden wields enormous power in the Las Vegas franchise and final say on personnel decisions. Those misses fall on him just as squarely as they fall on Mayock.

Anything less than a playoff appearance this season and questions will start emerging if Gruden's seat is getting hotter. And if it isn't, whether it should be.