Raider nation rejoiced when Adam Schefter reported that Chucky Gruden was returning to the black hole. At first, I was excited for Oakland. The Raiders had come off a disappointing 2017 season after making the playoffs in 2016. I thought Gruden’s disciplinary coaching style was exactly what they needed. However, he is not just the head coach, he owns a percentage of the team which can mean, ‘His way or the highway!’. This roster has experienced a lot of turnover this offseason because of Coach Gruden and many of the moves he made. For as much as he helps teams, he hurts them with his poor personal decisions. I truly believe that his tenacious personality inflates his prior success. Here are 3 reasons that prove that Jon Gruden is overrated.
Gruden had some solid seasons with the Raiders in the late 90s and early 2000s. They made it to the AFC Championship game in 2000 and were robbed in the infamous “Tuck Rule Game” the following year. However, that Raider team wasn’t able to reach the Super Bowl until Gruden was traded to the Buccaneers. Now the Tampa team he inherited was coming off 3 playoff appearances under Tony Dungy. Dungy built a historically great defense with players like Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice, Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber, and John Lynch. I will admit that Gruden revitalized their offense with his play calling.They leaned on the run game and were able to win a championship with a conservative style of football. This Super Bowl victory is what validates the public’s perception of Gruden as an elite coach, and he obviously deserves some credit for winning the big one. However, he walked into a perfect situation, that he had no hand in constructing. That team was championship bound without Gruden.
When Jon Gruden was traded to Tampa, he also had some personal control that went along with the head coaching job. Many people believe that he is an expert team builder and talent evaluator from ESPN segments like “Gruden’s QB Camp” and “Gruden’s Grinders.’’ Yet his track record in the draft isn’t great. His first 1st round selection for the Bucs was wide receiver Michael Clayton, who looked promising in his rookie year. However, he was pretty mediocre for the rest of his 8 year career, finishing with a total of 2,955 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also selected other 1st round busts like Cadillac Williams and Gaines Adams. There is a number of 2nd-7th rounds picks who didn’t pan out, but that list would take too long to mention. I was even critical of his latest draft. Obviously the season hasn’t started so I might be jumping the gun a bit, but the Raiders’ first 3 picks (Kolton Miller, PJ Hall, and Brandon Parker) were all reaches based off my own college evaluations.By no means am I saying that Gruden is a poor leader or doesn’t know his x’s and o’s. To me those are his strongest qualities as a coach. The bottom line is that history has shown us that Gruden’s eye for talent is less than desirable. The great Bill Parcells once said, “If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.” I agree that coaches who have a successful system should be able to pick their players. From Gruden’s past drafts, it is apparent that someone else should shop for “the groceries” while he’s “cooking dinner”.
Lastly, for being known as a “quarterback whisperer,’’ Gruden had trouble finding a quality signal caller. Yes, he got some good years out of Rich Gannon, but Gannon was a journeymen before ending up in Oakland. In Tampa he started off with Brad Johnson, who was a better backup than a starter. Than he had guys like Brian Griese (known backup), Chris Simms, Bruce Gradkowski, and what was left of 37 year old Jeff Garcia. Some say his inability to find a franchise QB was a major reason that he only led the Buccaneers to 2 trips to the playoffs after their Super Bowl run (throughout his 8 year tenure in Tampa). Fortunately for Gruden, Oakland already has an established QB in Derek Carr. Many have proclaimed Carr as elite after his spectacular 2016 season however, he took a step backward in 2017. We will see if Gruden is the QB guru that everybody makes him out to be, if he can get Carr back on track.
- “2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Starters, Roster, & Players.” Pro-Football-Reference.com, www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/tam/2002_roster.htm.
- Bassinger, Thomas. “Why Jon Gruden Was the Best Mistake the Bucs Ever Made.” Tampa Bay, Florida News, 17 Dec. 2017, http://www.tampabay.com/data/2017/12/17/why-jon-gruden-was-the-best-mistake-the-bucs-ever-made/.
- “NFL.com Draft 2018 – NFL Draft History: Full Draft Year.” NFL.com, National Football League, www.nfl.com/draft/history/fulldraft?teamId=4900&type=team.
- “Bill Parcells Quote.” A-Z Quotes, http://www.azquotes.com/quote/1365095