Henderson, Nev.--The Las Vegas Raiders are not shy of criticism. Since Al Davis took over the Silver and Black, this franchise has fed on it.
That is why no one should be shocked that the Raiders head coach is a lightning rod for critics.
Despite a Super Bowl Ring on his finger, Jon Gruden has taken shots for the last year, many of them unfairly. With an iron-clad 10-year, $100- million deal, Gruden is going nowhere, but that encourages his critics to be even louder.
Sports Illustrated's Raider Maven wanted to get another voice to discuss Mark Davis' man tagged to lead this franchise.
Jim Mora Jr. has been a head coach in college and the NFL, and we caught up with him for this exclusive conversation about what he sees from the Silver and Black's field general.
"I don't think he is stubborn," Mora said. "I think Jon understands the importance of keeping up with the trends. When he was out of coaching, he was continually learning where the game is headed."
For Mora, he has seen many coaches fail because they won't evolve and change. He respects Gruden and his commitment to being fresh, and that Gruden asks himself the hard questions.
"How do I need to adjust to where the game is headed? Stubborn coaches fail," was how Mora described the questions Gruden asks of himself.
Mora was quick to place the Silver and Black's head man in some elite company, about mindset and philosophy.
"The great coaches I have been around, guys like Bill Walsh, Mike Holmgren, they had a series of concepts that they believe in, then they looked at their rosters, their quarterback, their receivers, their play-makers, and these are the concepts that fit the way my team looks right now," Mora said. "Jon does that."
Mora thinks one key area that the Raiders have an advantage over other NFL teams with Gruden at the helm is the simple X's and O's of designing plays.
"He does an excellent job with formations and personnel groupings," Mora said. "He is always keeping the defensive team off-balance. He doesn't allow you to get comfortable. He has an unpredictability about him."
Since his return for a second stint as the Raiders leader, Jon Gruden is 19-29. For a franchise with a motto that declares, "Just win baby," that isn't good enough.
But behind the motto, there are real reasons for the Raiders record in those last three years. But 2021 is a simple 10-win season or bust.
The expectations are there, the talent is there and I am confident Gruden wouldn't argue.
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