First, ownership signed Jon Gruden away from the broadcast booth to a decade-long deal worth $100 million dollars, an outlandish commitment for any coach, let alone one with a .540 career winning percentage.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Gruden had this gem:
“Man, I’m trying to throw the game back to 1998. Really, as a broadcaster, I went around and tried to observe every team. Asked a lot of questions. Took a look at the facilities, how they’re doing business. There’s a stack of analytical da-ta, or day-ta, however you want to say that word, that people don’t even know how to read it. It’s one thing to have the da-ta or day-ta. It’s another thing to know how to read the damn thing. So I’m not going to rely on GPS’s and all the modern technology. I will certainly have some people that are professional that can help me from that regard. But I think doing things the old-fashioned way is a good way. And we’re going to try to lean the needle that way a little bit.”
Let’s check in on the moves the Raiders have been making recently:
#Raiders have signed:— Evan Silva (@evansilva) March 19, 2018
29yo RB Doug Martin (avgd 2.9 YPC last 2 years)
33yo WR Jordy Nelson (avgd career-worst 9.1 yards/catch last yr)
FB Keith Smith
Blocking TE Lee Smith
32yo QB Josh Johnson (Jon Gruden drafted in 2008)
2-down NT Justin Ellis
Run-stopper ILB Tahir Whitehead
We know through quotes from Derrick Johnson that Chiefs general manager Brett Veach’s vision is to get younger across the board. We’ve already seen it in action with the signings of 24-year-old Sammy Watkins and 25-year-old Anthony Hitchens.
The Raiders are signing older players in decline, such as 29-year-old Doug Martin and 33-year-old Jordy Nelson. 31-year-old Marshawn Lynch is also expected to return.
Analyst Chris Wesseling put Oakland’s current philosophy rather nicely on the most recent edition of the Around the NFL podcast.
“If I’m a fan of another AFC West team, I like everything I’m hearing coming out of Oakland so far. To me, Jon Gruden is building a Jeff Fisher team. If I’m a Chargers fan, I’m thrilled with this ... I’m watching the way Andy Reid runs that (Chiefs) offense going up against a 1998 philosophy with Jon Gruden and I’m happy with Andy Reid.”
Wesseling ultimately said he favored the Chargers for first place in the AFC West, but the point of the panel’s discussion was that the Raiders are positioning themselves to lag behind the rest of the division.
Hard to argue with that notion at the moment.