On the heels of a 34-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers and little-known third-string quarterback Nick Mullens, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden reiterated his mission with the on-the-move franchise.
“The Oakland Raiders is a great organization. I know it’s not looking pretty right now,” Gruden said. “I’ve heard a lot of negativity over the last six or seven months, and rightfully so. But we’re going to build a championship football team here. I know a lot of people as players, as fans, just in general, want to be a part of this.”
The many faces of “Chucky” were on display Thursday night. Gruden winced, gritted his teeth, twisted his lips and took deep breaths repeatedly as the 49ers embarrassed the Raiders on national television.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr took a beating, including six sacks, before he was pulled in the fourth quarter. The Raiders finished the night with a defense allowing more yards per play this season than any team in NFL history, helping define how Gruden stands at 1-7 in his return to the sideline.
“The thing that we’re at now is, who’s going to want to continue to show up? Who’s going to continue to fight?” Carr said. “Because those are the kind of men you want on the team when it starts going well. Those are the kind of guys that when coach isn’t around or one of our leaders, everyone in the locker room, the conversations they’re having, they’re only building us forward. Because the ones that pull you away, you don’t want any of those guys.”
The Raiders are scheduled to play in Las Vegas beginning in 2020.
Since the end of training camp, the Raiders have parted with a pair of top five draft picks — outside linebacker Khalil Mack and wide receiver Amari Cooper — which could be perceived by players in the locker room as a white flag on the 2018 season.
Many media types and some former players took to social media on Thursday night to make the claim that Gruden’s roster returned serve, quitting on the coach at midseason.
Former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky said via Twitter “People can say whatever about the @Raiders front office. But the fact that these players have quit is embarrassing. I’ve played on bad teams-the majority of dudes NEVER QUIT. No matter what. What would all these guys tell their kids!!?! NEVER QUIT- they shld walk the walk #TNF.”
Raiders defensive end Frostee Rucker, a 12-year veteran, said he didn’t see his team quit.
“No one’s packing it in. Coach hasn’t quit,” Rucker said. “It’s not about next year, or the year after that. It’s not about that. We’re trying to win. It’s just not happening right now.”
Former NFL tight end George Wrighster said via Twitter “Can anybody every remember seeing a team quit on a coach, then the coach manage to get the team to “buy in” the next season? I can’t.”
—Field Level Media