To the delight of many fans, the Oakland Raiders have been one of the most surprising teams of 2019. Between signing and releasing Antonio Brown, to the Vontaze Burfict suspension, many would not have guessed that the Silver and Black would be in contention for a playoff spot, but here they are at 5-4.
The product on the field has been exciting to watch, but the team was formed largely by one man and that is head coach Jon Gruden. Through his vision, the Raiders have undergone some intense changes but are now competing and likely will be for years to come.
Currently sitting in the mix for a Wild Card spot and second in the AFC West, the Raiders have continued to pick up momentum each week. Although their record could be better, legendary NFL quarterback Brett Favre believes that all of that is enough to make Gruden the league’s Coach of the Year, via SiriusXM NFL Radio:
“I don’t know what the outcome of the season will be, but if I had to pick a Coach of the Year right now it would be Jon Gruden and some people may say I’m absolutely crazy, but I think he’s done a tremendous job. I mean think about the drama – and you just talked about, not so much drama, but last year when he traded Khalil Mack and then Mack’s first game against Green Bay he just goes crazy and has a tremendous game and everyone says ‘What is Gruden crazy?’ Trades Cooper, then he has the Antonio [Brown] fiasco at the start of the season. All this could have just destroyed his team, and I think when you look at all those things that have occurred and where they are – and more importantly how they’re playing, they’re playing well and they’re responding to how he coaches – it’s just a tremendous job. I’m really impressed with what he’s done there.”
Favre really covered all angles of Gruden’s greatness this year. Gruden and Favre’s paths crossed very briefly in the 1990s while Gruden was working as a Green Bay Packers assistant.
As Favre mentioned, some might consider this pick crazy and premature. There is still San Francisco 49ers under Kyle Shanahan and, of course, the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick, as well as plenty of other qualified candidates.
However, no team has had to endure the drama and hardships that the Raiders have undergone. Between losing their key offseason acquisition and a number of injuries all year, the Raiders have really made the most out of a bad situation. With Gruden at the helm, there is no telling where this team can go in the future.