It’s official, Jon Gruden is the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders. And now that all of the glitz and glam of his press conference is over, it’s time to get to work. And boy or boy does Gruden have a lot of work that needs to be done. Sure, Gruden takes over a team that is chalk full of talent, but he also takes over a team that just came off of one of the most disappointing seasons for any team in recent memory.
After going 12-4 in 2016, the entire team took a step back as they struggled to even win six games in 2017. So while Gruden inherits a team that has all of the potential in the world, he also inherits a team that is broken and in need of a fix. With that in mind, here’s a look at the three biggest tasks ahead for Gruden in his second stint as head coach of the Raiders.
1 - Fix Derek Carr
This one has two prongs to it. Gruden needs to fix Carr from a mental and physical standpoint. He needs to build up the young signal callers confidence after a devastatingly bad 2017 season and he needs to fix his mechanics, that also went haywire this past year. Luckily for Carr and the Raiders, Gruden is known as a quarterback whisperer who can get the most out of players at that position.
It’s also a good sign for Carr that Greg Olson is coming back to Oakland after spending last season helping Jared Goff go from a potential draft bust to the leader of the most dynamic offense in the NFL in 2017. This task won’t be easy but Carr is the type who will work hard to fix himself and that’s good because Gruden is going to demand a whole lot out of him. If Gruden can’t get this task done, the rest likely won’t matter.
2 - Fix the Locker Room
The Raiders were a team without leaders in 2017. Reports of locker room dissension, infighting and a coaching staff who berated the team’s supposed leader all played a major part of why this franchise took such a huge step back this season. Derek Carr is still young and not the kind of guy who leads with the fire that he needs to lead with. Sure, he’s passionate and driven, but he’s not the type to get in his teammates faces and demand excellence. Khalil Mack is a leader on the field with his actions more than in the locker room with his words. And beyond those two, there really isn’t anyone who is naturally placed in the leadership role.
The team is full of young talent, but lacks the veteran leadership to keep things under control and help right the ship when things go wrong. That’s not to say Carr, Mack and others can’t be the kinds of leaders this team needs, but they weren’t in 2017. Aside from fixing Carr, Gruden’s biggest task at hand will be fixing the locker room, getting everyone on the same page and pushing guys to lead from within.