Jon Gruden is ready to get the job done for the Oakland Raiders.
And if he doesn’t, Gruden is prepared to turn down any payments he might be offered on the 10-year, $10-million contract the team used to lure him away from his lucrative “Monday Night Football” gig for a second stint as the Raiders’ head coach.
Or so he says.
“If I can’t get it done, I’m not going to take their money,” Gruden told USA Today on Tuesday.
Of course, there’s plenty of wiggle room within that statement, as Gruden didn’t specify exactly what it would take to “get it done.” The Raiders have only had one winning season in the last 15 seasons, so it’s not as if the bar is set incredibly high.
But they were a very good team under Gruden the first time around, going 38-26 with two playoff berths and an appearance in the AFC championship game in four seasons. Following the 2002 season, the year that Gruden left for Tampa Bay, the Raiders made it to the Super Bowl — and lost to Gruden’s Buccaneers.
Plus, the Raiders are only a season removed from what appeared to be a breakthrough year, going 12-4 and making the playoffs for the first time since that Super Bowl appearance. Quarterback Derek Carr made the Pro Bowl and earned a five-year, $125-million contract extension that offseason.
But the team couldn’t match that success in 2017, and third-year coach Jack del Rio was fired after a 6-10 finish. Now the Raiders are looking to Gruden and his staff to help them return to their winning ways.
“There’s a perception out there that I’m doing everything,” Gruden said. “I’m talking to Derek Carr and we’re trying to get ready for practice. I’m trying to pick up [defensive coordinator] Paul Guenther’s crazy blitzes … I understand the bull’s-eye thing, but I can only control what I can.”