Jon Gruden is doing the best job of his career
Jon Gruden won Super Bowl XXXVII and made five playoff appearances in his 13 previous seasons as a head coach. The 2020 Raiders aren’t even leading the AFC West — so how can this be the best job of his career?
Let’s start with maximizing talent. This is the seventh season in which Gruden has at least six wins through nine games, but every team prior featured at least one first-team All Pro, one future Hall of Famer or multiple Pro Bowlers. Since Gruden took over the Raiders in 2018, just three of his charges have made a Pro Bowl: Trent Brown, Rodney Hudson and Jared Cook (who is now playing for the Saints).
This year, Gruden is coaxing quarterback Derek Carr into producing the most efficient season of his career, behind a personal best 107.4 passer rating and a 16:2 TD-to-INT ratio. Running back Josh Jacobs, meanwhile, notched his seventh career 100-yard rushing game on Sunday (he had 112 rushing yards and 2 TDs against the Broncos), the most by any Raiders player in his first two seasons. Keep in mind this is a franchise that has also featured Hall of Famer Marcus Allen and a young Bo Jackson.
The defense is starting to figure things out; Las Vegas has allowed just 14.7 points per game since Week 8, third-fewest in the NFL. Combine that with five takeaways in the victory over Denver, and you end up with just the second three-game winning streak of Gruden’s current tenure with the Raiders.
Ultimately, it all comes down to wins and losses. And at 6-3, the Raiders are one win shy of tying their entire total from the 2019 season (7-9). More importantly, the Silver and Black is undefeated against their division (3-0) and the only team in the NFL to defeat the reigning Super Bowl-champion Chiefs this season.