While we were all rightfully concentrated and distracted by the wild return of Jon Gruden, there are reasons why the Oakland Raiders needed to make a change at coach surfaced.
While the idea of Jack Del Rio getting fired less than a year after he signed a lucrative contract extension seemed unlikely until Gruden’s talks with Raiders’ owner Mark Davis was reported by ESPN the night before the season finale, reasons for the firing have come to the surface.
There have been reports and whispers that the Raiders lacked leadership on the 53-man roster.
If I was a Raiders’ fan, that would worry me. Hell, if I was Gruden, it would worry me.
What do you mean there aren’t any leaders?
That wasn’t supposed to be a problem. The Raiders prided themselves for having a close-knit, mature locker-room. That was the perceived case in 2016 when the team went 12-4.
But in 201, when the team wilted to 6-10, the lack of leadership has been questioned. I think that’s just an excuse. There are still plenty of quality people on the team.
Here’s a few things that I wonder about when it comes to a lack of leadership:
Are Derek Carr and Khalil Mack not good leaders? Quarterback Derek Carr and pass-rusher Khalil Mack were in their fourth season in 2017. They’ve been considered leaders since their third season and both players were captains. They are considered leaders.
Minutes after Del Rio was whacked, he met with Carr and Mack. As Carr said, the Raiders are his and Mack’s team.
Great. They are the best two players on the team and they are the future. They should be the leaders. So, if leadership was a problem, doesn’t that fall on Carr and Mack?
I’m not blaming them for the 2017 season imploding. Both are good dudes and both are excellent players, although Carr must prove 2017 was a fluke and not an indication he is a below-average quarterback getting paid $25 million a year.
So, if leadership was an issue in 2018, Carr and Mack must make sure they do a better job of leading the team and make sure their fellow players stay the course. Again, the problem may not have been Carr and Mack’s fault. But as leaders, and they in charge of keeping everyone in line. Thus, strong leadership is on their list of expectations.
That must improve this year.
Was Marshawn Lynch divisive? There have been rumblings Lynch may have had an adverse effect on the locker-room. His addition was the big change on this team. So, if the 2016 Raiders’ culture was great and the 2017 Raiders’ culture was dysfunctional, where do you point as a change?
Lynch had a reputation of being divisive in Seattle. When his rights were traded to Seattle, I was told by someone who was in Seattle organization with Lynch that he would change the Raiders’ locker room and it wouldn’t always be a good thing.
Lynch was out of control during games twice and receiver Michael Crabtree had his moments as well. Crabtree didn’t have a great reputation as a chemistry guy across the bay in San Francisco. Yet, there were no reported issues his first two years in Oakland.
I would think Gruden will look hard at whether he should move on from Lynch and Crabtree. In fact, I would think that is probably the direction Gruden goes.
Whatever happens, leadership can’t be a problem for the 2018 Jon Gruden Raiders. Gruden, Carr and Mack must make sure that leadership issues are a thing of the past regime.\