How You Think of Jon Gruden Perfectly Captures Your 2018 Mindset
If you ever made fun of Jon Gruden during 2018, you might be a millennial. You might lack perspective if you ever watched a Khalil Mack sack with the Chicago Bears and proceeded to use it as evidence that Jon Gruden does not know what he is doing. If you laughed with joy and exuded schadenfreude whenever Amari Cooper caught a touchdown with the Dallas Cowboys, you might not have a damn clue what Jon Gruden is up to. That is ok. It is 2018. Every decision must pay immediate dividends. Otherwise, it is a bad decision. Why save and invest now when you can buy something shiny today?
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Forget that Jon Gruden has a 10-year contract. Nevermind that the best General Manager in football (Bill Belichick) constantly makes decisions with the future in mind. No. According to everybody on Twitter, Bill Belichick should shell out money for every Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola or use his first-round pick on a wide receiver. Forget that his way just sealed the 10th straight division title for the New England Patriots. He is wrong and you are right. Bill Belichick is lost and Jon Gruden does not know what he is doing. Those No. 1 picks Gruden continues to stash are all stupid. Right? Because Mack and Cooper are flourishing with their new system and Jon Gruden has a losing record in Year One of his 10-year contract. Gruden sucks and you are awesome.
What if, and hang with me here. Jon Gruden knows what he is doing. Ponder this… again, I ask for that rarest of commodities (patience) that Jon Gruden is thinking about building a… team… that will be good for (heavens to Betsy no) more than one year. Remember all the way back to when the Denver Broncos were the greatest team ever with the greatest defense ever assembled? No? What about more recent history. How about the Jacksonville Jaguars… or the Minnesota Vikings? Would you want to be those teams or the Oakland Raiders?
The Raiders just throttled the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football with some old school football. Doug Martin, yes, that Doug Martin from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ran roughshod over the vaunted Broncos defense, averaging 5.1 yards per rush. Plowing his way forward in the muck of Oakland (maybe for the last time until another team moves in). It was old-school in every way that counted, all the way down to the Jon Gruden looks on the sidelines. Linemen were muddy, players were slipping and sliding on real grass and even Booger McFarland was nowhere to be seen on the sideline. No Mad Max contraption blocking the view of Raiders fans. He was up in the booth where a good analyst belongs (and he is pretty good as he showed on Monday night).
The Internet Already Decided Jon Gruden Is A Dolt… In Year One of 10
However, because the Raiders are in the midst of a losing season, Gruden must not know what he is doing as a head coach. At least, that has been the consensus this year on the internet. Forget about the resume. The internet knows better than Jon Gruden. Twitter football geniuses laugh at Mack dominating and Cooper looking uncoverable at times. Bloggers and people in-the-know are vastly superior to “Chucky.” Ignore that Gruden has yet to use any of the picks he got back in the trades for Mack and Cooper. We can already call those trades failures. Why? Because it is 2018. Every decision ever must be analyzed IMMEDIATELY!
But… and this is a wild exercise at the moment… what if we waited? What if we took a look at the NFL landscape of the moment. Consider… big breath now… we looked at the bigger picture? What would you see? The Raiders have some pretty good pieces already in place. Do they not? An above average quarterback at the helm. Some offensive linemen who know how to block. And, most importantly, a ton of draft capital in 2019 and 2020.
The Raiders, of course, have the three First Round Picks in 2019 thanks to the Mack and Cooper trades. The highest they could pick is No. 2. The lowest it could be is No. 9. Their other two picks will fall anywhere between 20-29. They actually hurt themselves because both players they jettisoned improved the teams where they landed. With all that being said, three draft picks in the first round is a ton of draft capital.
It is hard to imagine Gruden using all three picks. More than likely he is either going to trade one or two of those picks to fall back to the second or third rounds (where you get more bang for your buck) or he can bundle the latter two picks together and move up even higher. Whatever he chooses to do, he has a ton of options. Beyond that, he has an extra first-round pick in 2020, which will give him more leeway to take the best player(s) available in 2019 and not have to worry about need. Why? Because he can fill that need with two more picks in 2020.
That is all to say; NOBODY HAS ANY IDEA WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN! Everybody is so accustomed to now Now NOW that they have lost all their patience. What Jon Gruden did this year is the antithesis of 2018. He told everybody to cool out and wait. If this was basketball and Philadelphia, it would have come out something akin to “trust the process.”
So is Jon Gruden a Genius… Or is he Leading the Raiders to Oblivion?
The Raiders are in a much better position today than most of the teams in the NFL, much less than AFC. In a year where they were never supposed to compete, they have pocketed two wins in their last three games (and three in their last six). They have a very serviceable quarterback who will make about $20 million the next four years. While it might sound like a bunch of money, $20 million is actually middle of the pack for this season and will be supremely cheap in the final year of his contract when he is just 31 years old.
The bottom line when it comes to Jon Gruden in 2018 is this; nobody knows if he is a genius or a dunce. It is WAY too early to know that answer. But that is ok. The football world can wait. Or at least it used to be ok to wait. Not now though. This is the age of immediate answers. And yet, this is the litmus test for how you ingest information in 2018. You have an old-school coach who decided I cannot win now, so I will try to win later. With a contract that allows for exactly that kind of decision making.
The internet lambasted him for it. Immediately laughed at Gruden for trading away maybe the second-best defensive player in the NFL (Aaron Donald is surefire No. 1). Then they laughed when Cooper started running hard routes and helping the Cowboys (something he had not been doing with the Raiders).
Nevermind that Mack was on the last year of his contract and Cooper was underperforming in the second-to-last year of his contract and Gruden had no intentions of re-signing either of those players. Jon Gruden clearly does not know what he is doing. Clearly, Jon Gruden is going to mess up utilizing those three first round picks in the 2019 draft and the two more in 2020. Or maybe… just maybe… he has a plan and because he is not some overreacting internet scribe, he is going to stick to that plan and succeed. Either way. Today, the 26th of December, nobody knows what the future will bring. Jon Gruden is either a dolt or a genius… or maybe he is somewhere in between. To get the answer, we will all just have to do what comes hardest in 2018. Show some patience, and sit back and wait.