Oakland Raiders 2017 Season Recap
There is hope and high anticipation revolving around a team in the Bay Area, eager to take those steps up the ladder of success en route to a championship one fine day.
But we're not talking about that team just yet.
2017 Record: 6-10
2016 Record: 10-6
Win Differential : -6
What Happened: The Raiders coming through the December games in 2016 had the appearance of a dark horse AFC champion. QB Derek Carr as the unquestioned leader was enjoying a breakout year. The defense, spearheaded by LB Khalil Mack, was a unit to be respected. Even the special teams tandem of K Sebastian Janikowski and P Marquette King were aces at their craft, contributors to score and field position, respectively. But in a Week 15 match-up against the Indianapolis Colts, Carr would suffer a broken leg that would end his season, and due to an injury to backup Matt McGloin the successive week against the Denver Broncos, the Raiders would turn in a feckless performance in a wild card game against the Houston Texans. Where so many things went right for the Silver & Black in 2016, it all went wrong in 2017. Carr would suffer a transverse process injury that would plague his efforts. Offensive skill players suffered bouts of ineffectiveness, from WR Amari Cooper's penchant for dropping passes to a compromised offensive line rendering an older Marshawn Lynch to a bit contributor. The defense struggled to generate a strong pass rush, which exposed an already vulnerable secondary to big play capability to opposing offenses. All those factors would play into Oakland seeing the largest single season regression of an AFC team in 2017. Because of that regression, and possibly other reasons as well, owner Mark Davis would fire head coach Jack Del Rio after three seasons at the helm of this Raider resurgence. What would happen next will cast the die for this franchise in the coming years.
What Happens Next: Davis' hire as the Raiders' head coach would leave one to wonder if this was a decision based on business than on football, and that would be the return of Jon Gruden. Gruden, who last coached for Oakland in 2001, has not roamed a sideline anywhere in about a decade. Beside the long layoff, Gruden's history bears out that his most successful teams were comprised of mostly veteran players, as his offense tended to be complex in comprehension, which lent to the necessity of well seasoned pros who could understand it in a shorter period of time. This seems to run at odds to general manager Reggie McKenzie's draft and develop strategy. With uncertainty revolving around the near future of the Raiders, as it unclear where they will play their home games after 2018, this move to bring Gruden back seems even more curious. Because of his celebrity status and past successes, Gruden was brought in to make the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders not only a postseason contender, but a box office draw. But when clubs bring in a coach from the broadcast booth or out of retirement, it's often done to give a moribund franchise a much needed shot in the arm, not take a team to the next level. This experiment will bear continuous observation in the coming weeks and seasons as the Raiders transition from a Golden State institution to a Silver State icon.