Henderson, Nev.--The Las Vegas Raiders were not expecting entering the 2021 season that they would need a new coach. Times have changed in a big way.
With the resignation by Head Coach Jon Gruden on Monday, Mark Davis, the Raiders owner, now has a significant decision to make. In 2018, he hired Gruden to a 10-year contract with a value reportedly of $100 million.
Davis put his trust and faith in Gruden and all of the football operations. So what does Davis do now? Sports Illustrated's Raider Maven reached out to multiple sources around the league and asked for a collaboration of names to replace Gruden.
"This will be a watershed moment," one assistant general manager told Raider Maven. "Mark Daivs has a more important decision than a head coach right now. Does Mark go for a strong coach to run the organization as Jon did, or go a more traditional route? Does he keep Mike Mayock and let him lead the team? Does Mark move Mayock out? If I was advising Mark, and I am not, I would suggest he put Mike in a more traditional GM role and let him set the direction.
"They lost their President (Mark Badain) earlier in the year, do they keep the new guy (Dan Ventrelle)? What about going out and getting a strong President in place of the new guy they put in, and let them do it all?"
The consensus around the league was unanimous on one subject: Davis needs to decide what he expects from himself first.
Earlier this summer, I interviewed former Raider great Matt Millen and discussed if people have given Davis enough credit for what he has done as the owner. Millen's comments are more germane today than ever.
"No, I'll be honest with you, I think as much as he's done, it's really hard to do. Mark has a great passion for the Raiders organization -- he kinda grew up with the Raiders, he's been around the organization his whole life," Millen said.
"But what Mark knows and understands, basically I'll say it this way, 'Stay in your lane.' He knows his lane, and he's hiring football people to do football."
What kind of owner does Davis want to be? That isn't a trick question. No coach is going to want to take a job, that he doesn't have a clear knowledge of the power structure above him.
According to one long-time NFL coach, "Mark is a great guy. The question he has to ask is what kind of owner does he want to be. Does he want to roll up his sleeves and be more of a day-by-day guy like his dad? I don't think that is him, but he has done so much that I didn't think he would get done. That is his call to make."
Davis hired Gruden, and while involved, he let his former coach and friend run the organization.
A Raider great said to me this morning, "I think he has to make sure that all of the leadership at the top is set first. Don't panic. The only thing that could make things worse, is a bad move. I trust Mark, he's smart."
Later today, we will post the names of potential candidates, but this point is clear for now. Mark Davis needs to make his decisions systematically. This current storm isn't Mark's fault, but he is the ship's captain, and his next decision can calm the problems or make them worse.
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