During his second run with the Raiders franchise, Jon Gruden has gotten the team up to a respectable level. But in a division with the Kansas City Chiefs and a Los Angeles Chargers team that looks poised for a breakout, the Las Vegas Raiders aren’t cutting it just yet.
Gruden’s club went 4-12 in 2018, and jumped up to 7-9 the following year, and 8-8 in 2020. The team finished second in the division last year, landing a big win over the Chiefs on the road in Week 5. Five losses in their last seven games derailed a promising 6-3 start to the season.
The Raiders have not made the postseason since 2016 under Jack Del Rio. Gruden was given a massive 10-year deal to come out of his long retirement and leave behind a cushy media career to return the team to annual contention. As we enter year four, he admits that it hasn’t happened as quickly as it needs to.
“The expectations are rising,” Gruden admitted Wednesday. “We proved we can compete in the AFC West. We proved we can win on the road. Now we’ve got to prove we can win at a much higher level.”
Gruden's message to #Raiders as they break mandatory minicamp: "The expectations are rising now. We proved we can compete in the AFC West and proved we can win on the road."
— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) June 16, 2021
“I think we’re better,” Gruden continued, via the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I think we’ve got a chance to be much better and a lot deeper and be more competitive.”
The team has made some big shifts, especially on the defensive side. New defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is one of the more respected coaches on that side of the ball in the league, and the team made some big acquisitions to the roster there as well.
Not everyone is sold on the offseason progress that the Las Vegas Raiders have made. Earlier this month, ESPN‘s Bill Barnwell credited the franchise with the league’s worst offseason, beating out teams like the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers for that ignominious title.