Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden seemingly took exception to a column from a local Bay Area writer on Sunday saying the franchise is tanking away their remaining time in East Bay before moving to Las Vegas.
Tim Kawakami of the Athletic wrote a column titled “They’re the Las Vegas Raiders now, tediously tanking away their remaining time in Oakland” after Sunday’s 27-3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Wembley Stadium in London.
On Tuesday, Gruden – while not specifying a target for his statements – took exception to the notion that the team isn’t trying to win games right now.
“I’ll say this, we aren’t tanking anything,” Gruden said, via Josh Dubow of the Associated Press. “I hear the hatred out there, some of the rumors that we are tanking it to get a first-round pick or a higher pick. We are not getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning to tank it. Ain’t nobody tanking it. I don’t know who wrote that or who said that or who thinks that, but that isn’t the case here. We are going to continue to work hard, continue to build our team and that was part of the message.”
Of course if the Raiders aren’t tanking, it just means that they’re trying to win and doing a poor job of it. They’ve lost their last two games by a combined 43-17 margin to Seattle and the Los Angeles Chargers. Derek Carr has been sacked 17 times in six games. He was sacked just 16 times in all of 2016 and has never been sacked more than 31 times in an entire season.
Carr threw 31 passes in Sunday’s loss to Seattle. Only six of those passes traveled more than five yards down field in the air as the Raiders allowed six sacks to the Seahawks and Carr was under duress all game.
When you trade your best player a week before the start of the season in Khalil Mack, are reportedly looking to trade Amari Cooper, move a former Pro Bowl tackle in Donald Penn from his natural left tackle spot to right tackle to accommodate a rookie, and shipped over a dozen former draft picks of General Manager Reggie McKenzie over this offseason, then begin the year with one win in six tries, it’s going to look like winning might not be your most paramount priority.
And if it is, then the Raiders need to get a whole lot better at doing it.