Raiders players reportedly questioning Jon Gruden’s ‘accountability’
Jon Gruden’s second stint as head coach of the Oakland Raiders is off to a rough start, and it sounds like he has quickly lost the trust of many of his players.
Gruden has already traded two of Oakland’s core players in pass-rusher Khalil Mack and wide receiver Amari Cooper. While seasoned NFL veterans know enough to never be surprised by a roster move, some Raiders players told Vic Tafur of The Athletic that the way Gruden handled the trades has them questioning the coach’s “accountability.”
“When what you say and what you do are two different things, there is a problem,” one player said.
Gruden said publicly that he was not entertaining trade offers for Cooper, and he was apparently telling the team the same in private. After he was dealt to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, Cooper was pulled off the practice field without Gruden explaining why. Players later learned about the trade by checking their phones, and Gruden still had not addressed the team about it as of Tuesday. He did, however, speak with ESPN and say the Raiders are done dealing and are “trying to stay competitive.”
Veteran players who spoke with Tafur indicated they don’t believe Gruden when he says he is not tanking in 2018.
“You have to wonder if we haven’t been playing for draft picks all along,” one player said. “Despite everything the coaches told us at training camp.”
Another player described the Mack deal as a “stiff jab” but the Cooper trade as a “knockout punch” because players were blindsided by it coming out of the bye.
“We didn’t want to believe it was coming, and Coach said we weren’t going to trade him,” the veteran said.
One report we heard about the Cooper trade may help explain why Gruden said one thing publicly and then did another, but he obviously has a real problem on his hands. Having three first-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft is nice, but the level of trust with Gruden is only going to continue plummeting if he can’t turn them into immediate success.