Before the season, Jon Gruden said of his 10-year, $100 million deal “If I can’t get it done, I’m not going to take their money.”
Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis should ask Gruden if he was serious.
Thursday night wasn’t just another loss in a string of many Raiders losses this season. The Raiders have experienced a lot of low points this century, but this was rock bottom.
The Raiders faced a 1-7 San Francisco 49ers team beat up by injuries, which had to start undrafted Nick Mullens in his first NFL action. Mullens had one touchdown and four interceptions over two preseasons. And the 49ers blew out the Raiders 34-3. Oakland is now 1-7. Mullens torched them. It was a complete embarrassment.
If the Raiders can’t beat a 1-7 49ers team with Mullens at quarterback, who can they beat? And if they can’t even pretend to want to play on “Thursday Night Football,” what’s Gruden even doing?
Now a reminder: Davis is still on the hook for nine-plus years and about $92 million of Gruden’s contract, according to isgrudengoneyet.com. Presumably, Gruden won’t be claiming any more that players are randomly calling him and saying they’re dying to join his program.
Raiders get torched by Nick Mullens
It was obvious from the 49ers’ first drive of the game that the Raiders didn’t want to play. Mullens, in his first NFL action, calmly led the 49ers downfield for a score. Safety Reggie Nelson bit horribly on a play-action fake and Pierre Garcon was wide open for a touchdown. It never got any better.
By halftime, Mullens was 12-of-17 for 167 passing yards and two touchdowns. The 49ers led 17-3. The second half was more of the same. Mullens finished with 262 yards and three touchdowns with a 151.9 passer rating. Maybe Mullens is going to go on to make multiple Pro Bowls in his career and this night won’t look quite as bad for Gruden and the Raiders down the road. That seems unlikely.
There was a point in the broadcast when Fox showed 49ers receiver Kendrick Bourne telling a camera that the 49ers were going to go score again. And a couple plays later, the 49ers scored again. No Raiders on the field looked interested in making a tackle on that long touchdown run by Raheem Mostert.
Gruden has been the punch line to every joke told this offseason, and the jokes got worse with the Khalil Mack trade. After Thursday’s performance, when the Raiders were run out of the stadium by a 1-7 team starting Nick Mullens at quarterback, what has become of the Raiders is just sad.
Jon Gruden’s first season back has been a debacle
The truth is, Gruden has time. He’s not giving back the money. He’s not getting fired (though we’d be curious about any other coach who didn’t have a 10-year deal). He has draft picks and salary-cap space and will have his chance to turn around the Raiders.
Before Thursday, an argument could be made that Gruden maybe had a plan. After watching the Raiders wave the white flag against the 49ers, it’s a lot harder to buy into that. It seemed like the entire roster has little desire to play hard for Gruden, and it has been just nine games. It’s not like the Xs and Os were good either. Oakland did nothing to make Mullens uncomfortable in his first start. The Raiders offense did nothing against a 49ers defense that is good but not great. There’s little doubt that if Kyle Shanahan coached the Raiders on Thursday night and Gruden had coached the 49ers, the result would have been different.
The Raiders are the laughingstock of the NFL. There has to be blind faith by Raiders fans that Gruden will figure it out because what other choice is there? It’s not like Gruden is going to give the money back. Though, after how the Raiders looked on Thursday night, it would probably be the right thing to do.
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