Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden might not have a clue, but dammit is he optimistic. Before Thursday night’s loss to San Francisco, an interview with Gruden would air. And in it, he made quite the declaration.
“I got a cell phone just like you and everybody else. I get a lot of phone calls from people that are dying to come play here. I’m just telling you. They’re dying to play for the Raiders,” he told Fox Sports (via ESPN).
So that’s that, right? Well, then the Raiders would go out and loss 34-3 to the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday Night Football. Not only that, but they would lose to a third-string, undrafted QB (2017) in Nick Mullens — who posted historic numbers in his debut. And yet, Gruden is doubling down. Not only are players “dying” to play for the Raiders, but he also has a message for the rest of the league.
“I’m just trying to get people excited about the Oakland Raiders,” he told reporters after the game. “The Oakland Raiders is a great organization. I know it’s not looking pretty right now. … But we’re going to build a championship football team here. I know a lot of people as players, as fans, just in general, want to be a part of this.”
Right now, it’s hard to imagine anybody who would want to be part of this. After Thursday night’s loss, the Raiders are 1-7. Before the season began, they traded All-Pro pass-rusher Khalil Mack away to the Chicago Bears. From week to week, we don’t know what to make of quarterback Derek Carr. Former Pro Bowl wideout, Amari Cooper, plays for the Dallas Cowboys now. Sure the Raiders are stocking up on draft picks; they have three first-round selections to look forward to in 2019.
But Gruden better hope his team hits on all of them. Because right now, the Raiders are a mess. And Thursday night’s embarrassment might just have been this team’s lowest point of the season.