Raiders player explains why Rich Bisaccia was better for team than Jon Gruden
The Las Vegas Raiders were 3-2 when Jon Gruden was forced to abruptly resign over his leaked email scandal. Very few people gave them a chance to contend after that, but interim head coach Rich Bisaccia navigated through an incredibly difficult season en route to a playoff berth. At least one Raiders player believes Gruden’s departure actually helped the team.
An anonymous Raiders player told NFL insider Michael Silver that he believes the team played so well down the stretch because they didn’t have Gruden pushing them.
“We didn’t have Gruden grinding us late in the year,” the veteran player said. “Gruden would kill us, and we would fall apart. The reason this team played so well down the stretch is that Rich listened to the players and took it easy over the back half of the season.”
The Raiders won their first two games after Gruden stepped down. They then dealt with another major scandal, as wide receiver Henry Ruggs was involved in a drunk driving accident that killed a woman. Las Vegas won just one of its next six games after that before turning things around to reach the postseason.
All of that reflects well on Bisaccia’s leadership. He has already proven he can get players to buy in during difficult times, which is no easy feat in the NFL. There may be something to what the anonymous player said, too. As Silver notes, the Raiders finished 2-4, 1-5 and 2-5 in their previous three seasons under Gruden.
Derek Carr and other Raiders veterans have been outspoken in endorsing Bisaccia for the full-time head coach position. There have been indications that owner Mark Davis is targeting a much bigger name, but Bisaccia has certainly built a strong case.
Photo: Sep 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden takes the field before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports