Raiders Veteran: Jon Gruden's Coaching Style 'Would Kill Us' Late in Season

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 20, 2022

Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden speaks during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

The Las Vegas Raiders won their final four games of the regular season to make the playoffs at 10-7, and one veteran said the practice habits of interim coach Rich Bisaccia compared to former coach Jon Gruden made a major difference.

"We didn't have Gruden grinding us late in the year," the player told Michael Silver of Bally Sports. "Gruden would kill us, and we would fall apart. The reason this team played so well down the stretch is that Rich listened to the players and took it easy over the back half of the season."

The evidence on the field supports such sentiment, as Silver noted the Raiders closed the previous three seasons 2-4, 1-5 and 2-5 with Gruden on the sidelines.

Bisaccia coached the final 12 games of the regular season and went 7-5 while helping lead Las Vegas to the playoffs. The AFC West team lost by seven points to the Cincinnati Bengals in the postseason, but he earned praise for the level of stability he brought to the franchise under trying circumstances.

He got the job only after Gruden resigned after it was discovered the former coach sent emails with racist, anti-gay and misogynistic language. What's more, the Raiders released wide receiver Henry Ruggs III after he was charged with four felonies and a misdemeanor in a fatal car crash.

Derek Carr and Maxx Crosby were among the players who publicly praised Bisaccia for the job he did, and Silver reported "others privately express similar sentiments."

One player said, "Rich has a calm presence. He has a good pulse on the entire team, being a special teams guy. He’s not a rah-rah guy or a great motivator, but he is passionate and guys love him. Everyone's pulling for Rich. He deserves the job."

The Raiders already made one major change after losing in the playoffs and fired general manager Mike Mayock.

No determination has been made on the head coaching position, although Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported multiple sources associated with the Michigan Wolverines believe Jim Harbaugh would leave his alma mater for the Raiders if he was offered the head coaching position.

While Bisaccia deserves plenty of credit, Harbaugh is coming off his best season at Michigan that included a Big Ten title and College Football Playoff berth. He also went 44-19-1 with three playoff appearances and a Super Bowl berth from 2011 to 2014 as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.