The Las Vegas Raiders started the season 3-0 but dropped their next two games. Back-to-back losses are far from the team’s biggest problem, though. The Raiders are reeling from the fallout of the Jon Gruden scandal, where the longtime NFL coach and broadcaster resigned after emails surfaced that contained racist, homophobic, and misogynistic language.
Most NFL experts and fans believe that Gruden’s shocking downfall drives the final nail in the coffin of the Raiders 2021 season. Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano suggests this may not be the case. He laid out a scenario where this unprecedented scandal could actually help the team turn things around.
The Las Vegas Raiders are at a crossroads following Jon Gruden’s resignation
The Las Vegas Raiders’ undefeated start to 2021 included wins over the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Miami Dolphins. The Ravens and Dolphins games took overtime miracles. The Steelers win seemed super-impressive after their Week 1 win in Buffalo but seems less remarkable since.
In Week 4, following the opening salvo in the Jon Gruden scandal, the Raiders finally failed to dig out of a big hole as they lost to the Los Angeles Chargers 28-14 on Monday Night Football. Last week, with the embattled Gruden still in charge, the team dropped another game. This time, it was to the middling Chicago Bears.
All that paled in comparison to what the team went through this week as a trove of additional emails from Gruden surfaced, and the coach abruptly resigned during Week 5’s MNF game.
The easy and completely understandable thing to do at this juncture is for the Raiders to give up on the season. The team isn’t playing well, the franchise isn’t doing well, and the future is incredibly uncertain for everyone involved.
However, the dynamics of an NFL locker room are complex. And, at least one former NFL coach thinks that, under the right circumstances, the team could go the other way.
Chuck Pagano lays out how the Jon Gruden scandal could ‘galvanize’ the Raiders
In his weekly guest spot on the Pat McAfee Show 2.0, McAfee’s former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano shared his thoughts on the Jon Gruden scandal and what the immediate future could look like for the Raiders.
Pagano sang the praises of former Las Vegas special teams coach and current interim head coach Rich Bisaccia. He’s known the new head man for “a long, long time” and calls him a well-respected player’s coach who will hold the team accountable.
The former Ravens and Bears DC also said that much of the Raiders’ success or failure will depend on the team’s leaders. He mentioned QB Derek Carr, TE Darren Waller, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, and DL Jonathan Hankins.
Pagano then gave a rousing diagnosis of what needs to happen for the team to succeed moving forward:
They can rally around Rich and decide, ‘Hey look, we do have a damn good football team. We have a quarterback that’s playing outstanding. We’ve got playmakers on offense. We’ve got a defensive coach in Gus Bradley who knows what he’s doing and has brought energy and juice to this defense. And this season is not a wash. We can turn this whole thing around, and we can turn this into a positive and still make hay in this league and find a way to get ourselves in the tournament. And then, if we do get in that tournament, we can make some noise.’Chuck Pagano on the Las Vegas Raiders following the Jon Gruden scandal
Like any good football coach, Pagano’s words and passion has to fire up Raiders fans. Maybe there is a chance the season isn’t over.
Whether it is or isn’t, we won’t have to wait long to find out. This Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos will show the world if the Raiders have the fight Pagano talked about. Or, if they are indeed done after the Jon Gruden scandal.
The team’s Week 6 game against the Denver Broncos will determine their 2021 fate
The Denver Broncos and the Las Vegas Raiders aren’t just AFC West rivals. They are also very similar teams in 2021. Both squads started 3-0, and both dropped their last two games. The big difference between the two organizations now is that one’s head coach just shockingly resigned in disgrace, and the other is the Broncos.
Denver lost its last two games to a pair of AFC North teams that Las Vegas beat. In Week 4, they fell to the Baltimore 23-7 and, in Week 5, lost to Pittsburgh 27-19.
There are plenty of football points to make about this game. We could talk about the Raiders’ slow starts, the Broncos’ defensive issues the last two weeks, or which QB, Derek Carr or Teddy Bridgewater, is more reliable.
But, let’s be honest. This game hinges on whether or not the Raiders are ready to play following one of the most scandalous weeks in NFL history.
If the Raiders rally around Bisaccia and each other in the way Pagano laid out, the Raiders could not only win this game but actually get their season back on track.
However, if the Raiders lose — and especially if they get blown out — the next relevant moments for Raiders fans could be after the season when Mark Davis hires a new coach and early in the 2022 NFL Draft.