Why are the Raiders in this Plight? Gruden and Mayock are Also to Blame in a Major Way 

This site is about great Raiders of the past and class games. However, with the current situation with the team I had to comment. Please note after this week we will focus on Raiders of the past and classic games. While we are all relieved that Josh Mcdaniels is gone. Him and Ziegler do not share the entire blame or even most of it for the current state of the team. The narrative among many Raider fans is that Ziegler and Mcdaniels took a playoff team and turned them into a joke. Not entirely. I contend the 2021 team was a one time fluke that could not be repeated. 

I will give credit where credit is due after the Henry Ruggs accident and firing of Gruden the Raiders could have imploded in 2021. Instead they banded together and won 4 games to end the season and squeaked into the playoffs. They won 6 games in walk off fashion, which was an NFL record. They beat a third strong Browns team whose roster was half out due to Covid in the first win, a terrible Broncos team in the second then did have impressive wins over the Colts in Indianapolis week 17 and the Chargers in a defacto playoff game in week 18. 


The team scored 374 points and allowed 439, which is the point differential of a 7-10 team. This is why I contend the Raiders were really a 7-8 win team in 2021 that won some close games that got them to 10 wins. This has happened before. The 1980 Browns known as the Cardiac Kids won a ton of games late in dramatic fashion then were never able to repeat that feat as in the NFL you just can not depend on winning close games week after week. 

The issue of the Raiders starts with player development going back to the Del Rio years. McKenzie did not draft as poorly as people thought. The Raiders just did not develop a lot of these players. If you look at Defensive Linemen the Raiders drafted or signed in recent years, Mario Edwards, Jihad Ward, Shelby Harris, Arden Key, Maurice Hurst and Darnell Autry they have all become solid NFL players at some point in the past few years. If they had developed or kept these players they would have had one of the best Dlines in the NFL even with the trading of Khalil Mack.

The trade of Mack brings us back to Gruden and Mayock and why the roster is where it is. I was in the minority but I agreed with the Mack and Cooper trades. The Raiders wanted to give Mack Von Miller money but Mack wanted something closer to Aaron Donald money and I don’t think Mack was worth it. 2 first round picks were fine compensation especially as they did not have to sign his contract.

Mack’s current contract has to be restructured every year because it costs too much to keep him. He will probably be cut from the Chargers next year as he is due to make 38 million and only costs 15 million to cut next year. Mack also has not lived up to his contract . Mack hasn’t had double digit sacks since 2018 his first year with the Bears. Since joining the Chargers Mack has 9 sacks in 3 games against the Raiders and only 6 in 21 games against the rest of the NFL!! That’s with Bosa on the other side in many of these games. Also Mack’s huge cap numbers and loss of 2 first round picks have played a major role in the Bears being one of the worst teams in the league in the last two years. 

Amari Cooper is a fine WR. He is good for roughly 1100 yards every season but he disappears at times and is not worth elite number one money. He is up and down and has hot and cold stretches.  A first round pick was solid compensation. 

However, the issue is the Raiders bungled away these picks. Since the Mack Trade in 2018 here are the Raiders First Round Picks: Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs, Jonathan Abram, Henry Ruggs, Damon Arnette, Alex Leatherwood, *Davante Adams (they gave up 1st and 2nd Round picks for Adams), Tyree Wilson. 

The jury is out on Wilson. He was raw coming out of college and is coming off a foot injury and not 100 percent. However, many fans would say there were better players available. Josh Jacobs is one of the best RBs in the NFL and even if they get 3-4 elite years out of Adams that is worth the pick. The rest are all busts. Ruggs has gone to prison and Arnette has been indicted on felony charges. Leatherwood couldn’t even make the Bears (who have maybe the worst Oline in the NFL) after being cut by the Raiders. 

(I will give Mayock credit where it is due and his mid round picks of Maxx Crosby, Hunter Renfrow, Foster Moreau in the 2019 draft were solid).

Mayock and Gruden’s Free Agent signings and contracts were almost as bad. In 2023 they still have nearly $19 million in dead money on contracts of Kenyan Drake, Corey Littleton and Carl Nassib all of whom have not been on the team since the 2021 season. 

You can not miss out on this many high draft picks and free agent signings and expect your roster and team not to suffer. 

Yes we know McDaniels was a terrible coach. Yes we know Ziegler and McDaniels made horrible signings and contracts such as those for Chandler Jones and Jimmy Garropollo. However, failed draft picks and Free Agent signings by Gruden and Mayock have played a major role in where the Raiders are today. 

On a final note let me say I really like what I saw of Antonio Pierce press conference. He grew up a Raider fan and has a lot more energy than McDaniels. This reminds me of when the Raiders fired Mike Shanahan in 1989 when they were 1-3 and a lifetime Raider Art Shell took over the team finished the season 7-5 narrowly missing the playoffs. In addition, we also must remember that Rich Bisaccia also went 7-5 after Gruden started 3-2 in 2021.