Jon Gruden

Raiders Under Investigation For COVID-19 Protocol Violations

Raiders HC Jon Gruden was one of a handful of head coaches to be slapped with a $100K fine for not consistently wearing his mask during his team’s Week 2 game, and the Raiders themselves were handed a $250K fine for Gruden’s indiscretion. And the league isn’t finished with Las Vegas just yet.

Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported several days ago that a team was under investigation for “unauthorized locker room access” (Twitter link), and as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com wrote last night, that team is the Raiders. This season, only 40 employees in each organization are allowed to be in the locker room, and an unauthorized Raiders employee allegedly entered the locker room following the team’s win against the Saints on Monday night.

If that allegation turns out to be true, then the league will impose discipline, according to Schefter. It seems likely that such discipline would come in the form of additional fines, but the NFL is apparently willing to go further if necessary.

Indeed, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says coaches who continue to violate COVID-19 protocols will not only face fines several times higher than the $100K penalty doled out this week, they could also face suspension. Even draft pick forfeiture is not out of the question, and to drive that point home, the coaches who received fines also received a letter from the NFL that included the following language: “[f]uture violations of this rule or any other league policy … will result in increased accountability measures for you, individually, as well as your club.”

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says that all coaches who were fined have filed appeals (Twitter link). That includes Gruden, who said, “I’m doing my best. I’m very sensitive about it. … I’m calling plays. I just want to communicate in these situations, and if I get fined, I’ll have to pay the fine. But I’m very sensitive about that and I apologize.” The appeals will be heard this week.

Interestingly, Gruden also indicated that he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this year. He did not divulge many details on his experience, saying only, “it wasn’t pleasant” (Twitter link via Pelissero).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

Things move fast in today’s NFL and the old adage of “coaches are hired to be fired” has seemingly never been more true. For the most part, teams change their coaches like they change their underwear. 

A head coach can take his team to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl, or win multiple Super Bowls, but they’re never immune to scrutiny. Just ask Tom Coughlin, who captured his second ring with the Giants after the 2011 season, only to receive his pink slip after the 2015 campaign.

There are also exceptions. Just look at Bill Belichick, who just wrapped up his 20th season at the helm in New England. You’ll also see a few others on this list, but, for the most part, most of today’s NFL head coaches are relatively new to their respective clubs. And, history dictates that many of them will be elsewhere when we check in on this list in 2022.

Over one-third (12) of the NFL’s head coaches have coached no more than one season with their respective teams. Meanwhile, less than half (15) have been with their current clubs for more than three years. It seems like just yesterday that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, right? It sort of was – Kingsbury signed on with the Cardinals in January of 2019. Today, he’s practically a veteran.

Here’s the list of the current head coaches in the NFL, ordered by tenure, along with their respective start dates:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints): January 18, 2006
  3. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007
  4. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008
  5. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010
  6. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013
  7. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 2, 2014
  8. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings): January 15, 2014
  9. Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons): February 2, 2015
  10. Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles): January 18, 2016
  11. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017
  12. Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars): December 19, 2016 (interim; permanent since 2017)
  13. Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers): January 12, 2017
  14. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017
  15. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017
  16. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears): January 7, 2018
  17. Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions): February 5, 2018
  18. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018
  19. Jon Gruden (Las Vegas Raiders): January 6, 2018
  20. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018
  21. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019
  22. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019
  23. Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos): January 10, 2019
  24. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  25. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins): February 4, 2019
  26. Adam Gase (New York Jets): January 11, 2019
  27. Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 8, 2019
  28. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
  29. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  30. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  31. Joe Judge (New York Giants): January 8, 2020
  32. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Waive QB DeShone Kizer

The Raiders will cut quarterback DeShone Kizer, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). With that, Kizer will hit the waiver wire, where the Bengals hold the top priority. 

[RELATED: Raiders Sign Sam Young]

A second-round selection in 2017, Kizer was pegged as a green talent that had high upside. Unfortunately for him, he was taken by the Browns, who proceeded to lose every game that season. At year’s end, he was shipped to Green Bay. Last year, the Packers dropped him before the final cut to 53, leading him to the Raiders. Unless he circles back to the Packers or Browns, he’ll join the fourth team of his NFL career.

Kizer is still only 24, but Jon Gruden & Co. didn’t see a place for him on the roster with Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, and Nathan Peterman already in the QB room. Mariota, who joined on a two-year, $17.6MM deal, will be one freak or blown play away from taking the field in Las Vegas. Peterman, who was retained with a $2MM+ tender as a restricted free agent, figures to be the QB3.

Kizer has made 18 appearances over the course of his NFL career, most of which came during the Browns’ winless season. All in all, he’s got eleven touchdowns against 24 interceptions.

In addition to Kizer, the Raiders have also waived tight end Paul Butler, defensive end Kendall Donnerson, offensive lineman Kyle Kalis, and linebackers Te’Von Coney and Quentin Poling.

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Raiders GM Mike Mayock On Antonio Brown, Jon Gruden, Derek Carr

Antonio Brown‘s time with the Raiders didn’t go as planned, to put it mildly. Oakland traded a couple of picks to acquire him from the Steelers, and he never ended up playing a game in the silver and black. Brown got into a very public spat with Raiders GM Mike Mayock, reportedly threatening to punch him and calling him a “cracker.” Although head coach Jon Gruden has final say on personnel matters, Mayock still caught a lot of flak for his handling of the situation. Now in an interview with Vic Tafur of The Athletic, Mayock reflected on the whole ordeal at length for the first time.

I put that on me,” Mayock said. “My anticipation was that he was coming off a situation in Pittsburgh where he wants to prove everybody wrong and he wants to ride into the Hall of Fame. That he was going to come in with Jon Gruden and Derek Carr and our offense and lead the way. … I really thought we were going to get the best out of Antonio Brown and we didn’t.”

The Raiders ended up cutting Brown on September 7th, a couple of days after the blowup in the locker room. “We weren’t able to get anything out of him. So, at the end of the day, in hindsight, we lost a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick, and I can’t tell you how much pain that causes me,” Mayock continued. Gruden initially welcomed Brown back into the locker room the day after the altercation, which led to some speculation that the coach had taken the player’s side over his GM’s, and that Mayock wasn’t long for the franchise.

Mayock denied there were any issues between him and Gruden, and he didn’t seem concerned about his job security. “Jon and I are good,” Mayock said. “Jon and I talk everything through.” The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas this offseason, and rumors have swirled that they could be in the market for a new quarterback as they make the transition. Mayock spoke positively of Carr, saying “Derek stepped forward in Year 2 under Jon Gruden,” but he also hedged.

As far as what the future holds, I’m gonna tell you the same thing I told you last year. About every position. And that is, my job is to evaluate every position and try and make us better. And if I can, I will, and if I can’t, I won’t. And that holds true at every position.” Spoken like a true GM. Carr was inconsistent once again this year, and it wouldn’t be a shock if the Raiders decide to make a splash at the position.

Mayock also talked about defensive end Clelin Ferrell, who the Raiders surprisingly drafted fourth overall last April. Ferrell got off to a slow start, and Mayock acknowledged as much. “I thought he was solid,” Mayock said. “Early in the year, we probably asked him to do too much. He had never played inside and he was splitting reps inside and outside. He lost weight, he was sick in London … those aren’t excuses, they’re facts.” 

“After London, when he got his weight back up, I thought the season began to build for him. We asked him to play one position and I thought he got better and better each week, and we’re excited about him,” he continued. The former NFL Network analyst also revealed that he thinks the impending move will help attract free agents. “There is definitely a buzz about our move into Las Vegas,” he said. “Could be one of the big stories of free agency.” The Raiders will be one of the most interesting teams to watch in 2020. 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Miller, Broncos, Gruden

A few weeks ago, Broncos star linebacker Von Miller expressed disappointment and frustration at his team’s lack of success this season. However, the veteran was quick to clarify that he wants to stick around Denver for the foreseeable future.

“I said before the week, I’m tied to the Denver Broncos,” Miller told Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (Twitter link). “It’s pro sports and we all know things can change here and there. But for me and my mindset, it’s a marriage and I’m not looking forward to divorcing anytime soon.”

Miller backed up those claims tonight, as the linebacker expressed optimism in the 2020 iteration of the Denver Broncos (via Jhabvala on Twitter).

Let’s check out some more notes out of the western divisions:

  • While the Raiders will soon be able to lure free agents to Las Vegas, the front office will have to do a better job of evaluating players if they hope to become a contender, writes Vic Tafur of The Athletic. Jon Gruden‘s acquisitions have generally been hit or miss, with Tafur pointing out disappointing deals for linebacker Tahir Whitehead and safety Marcus Gilchrist in 2018 and wideout Tyrell Williams and offensive lineman Trent Brown in 2019. On the flip side, Tafur did recognize the organization for snagging tight end Darren Waller and lineman Richie Incognito.
  • The trial date for the Klemmer-Wallace lawsuit vs Pat Bowlen trustees has been set for September 1st, tweets Mike Klis of 9News in Denver. Broncos owner Pat Bowlen passed away in June, and he ceded control of the club to three trustees during his battle with Alzheimer’s. These trustees were vested with the power to transfer the team to one of Pat Bowlen’s seven children, and Brittany Bowlen became the favorite to ultimately take the reins. But not long after her status as the frontrunner became clear, Beth Bowlen Wallace went public with her desire to own the Broncos. Bill Bowlen, Pat Bowlen’s brother, then filed his suit to remove the trustees.
  • We learned earlier tonight that Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is confident that he’ll play this weekend against the 49ers.

QB Notes: Wentz, Rudolph, Darnold, Carr

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz struggled once again in Philadelphia’s 17-9 loss to the Seahawks. Wentz received a x-ray on his right hand during the second half of the game, but would not blame his poor play on the injury, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. In his postgame press conference, when asked if the injury affected his play, he said, “I don’t think it did.” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson clarified that the x-rays were negative, but Wentz would go through further tests.

Whether the injury played a role or not, Philadelphia needs to find an answer for their offensive woes. Wentz made a number of poor decisions, but two passes to open receivers in the flat that sailed well out of reach were especially emblematic of his problems. The Eagles are now 5-6 on the season, but have a vital stretch of their schedule against Miami, New York, and Washington. It will be crucial for their playoff chances to come out victorious against three of the weakest teams in the league.

Check out some other notes on quarterbacks around the league:

  • After being benched in the Steelers 16-10 win over the Bengals, quarterback Mason Rudolph addressed allegations from Browns defensive end Myles Garrett that Rudolph used a racial slur last week on Thursday Night Football. Rudolph adamantly denied the claims with reporters after the game, writes Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “I couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t believe that he would go that route after the fact. But it is what it is and I think I’ve moved on. One day it was tough, but moved on. We’re good to go now.” Rudolph reiterated the claims were “totally untrue” and when asked if he said anything that could have been construed in a racist way he said, ““Absolutely not.’’
  • Young quarterback Sam Darnold was criticized a few weeks ago for talking about the playoffs with half the season remaining, but the young Jets gunslinger is showing progress dealing with the media, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN. Darnold mentioned that the playoffs were in the back of his mind after 34-3 blowout win against the Raiders, but quickly made clear that he is taking the season one game at a time. This season has definitely been a roller coaster for Darnold who is still looking to string a few strong games together after missing the start of the season dealing with mononucleosis.
  • Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was benched amidst a blowout loss to the Jets by head coach Jon Gruden. The move is not meant to create any controversy at the position, however. Carr was removed alongside other important players in Oakland’s rotation to protect them from injury down 31 in the third quarter. Still, Gruden acknowledged the difficulty decision talking with reporters after the game, according to Jerry McDonald of The Mercury News. “I didn’t want to take him out, but doing what I think is right and I’m sure I’ll be second-guessed for that but I think I’m doing what’s right for our football team.”

Bay Area Notes: Witherspoon, Lee, Verrett, Joyner

49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon was expected to be active for Monday Night’s contest against the Seahawks for the first time since Week 3. However, Witherspoon remained on the team’s inactive list. According to The Athletic’s Matt Barrows, Witherspoon feels 100%, but he did not get to participate in a full practice this week. Thus, the team plans to give him a full week of practice before rejoining the starting lineup next week against the Cardinals.

Rookie undrafted free agent Emmanuel Mosley has been fantastic in place of Witherspoon and surely made the decision to play it safe with Witherspoon easier. At 8-0, San Francisco has a fantastic opportunity to put themselves in the driver’s seat for the number one seed in the NFC with a win tonight.

Here’s more from around the Bay Area:

  • Raiders linebacker Marquel Lee has rejoined the team’s practices, according to Howard Balzer. Lee was placed on injured reserve in September with an ankle injury, however, the team designated him for a possible return. Balzer’s report signals the beginning of a 21-day practice period for Lee to practice with the team before Oakland must decide to reactivate him or leave him on IR for the rest of the season.
  • Cornerback Jason Verrett was among the 49ers on the field for warm-ups on Monday Night before their matchup with Seattle, according to Matt Barrows of The Athletic. While normally a player warming up before a game wouldn’t be newsworthy, Verrett is currently on the injured reserve with a designation to potentially return later in the season. Per Barrows, he has not been on the field since his injury two months ago. Since Verrett is not eligible to return until December 1, it is a very good sign for the team to see him making progress.
  • Jon Gruden told reporters that Raiders slot cornerback Lamarcus Joyner is questionable with a hamstring injury, according to Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. Gruden went on to say that Nevin Lawson will get the first opportunity to replace Joyner. Rookie fourth round pick Isaiah Johnson, recently activated from the injured reserve, will get an opportunity to receive snaps at the outside cornerback position and possibly move veteran Daryl Worley inside to the slot as well, per Bair.

‘Many Expect’ Jay Gruden To Eventually Join Raiders?

Jay Gruden became the first head coach fired in 2019 when the Redskins canned him last week, but he probably won’t have too difficult of a time finding a new job. Gruden is a highly regarded offensive mind despite Washington’s struggles, and is respected across the league. 

It also doesn’t hurt that Gruden’s brother, Jon Gruden, is currently the head coach of the Raiders. To that end, “many expect” that Jay will “resurface next season” as a member of Oakland’s staff, writes Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. We heard recently that Gruden is expected to take the rest of this season off from coaching, so this lines up with that. The same report indicated Gruden will hunt for a head coaching job next offseason, but if he strikes out on that then the Raiders look like a likely destination.

Interestingly, Schefter points out that the Raiders never hired a quarterbacks coach this offseason, and that Gruden sliding into that role “could be the perfect move” as the team prepares to move to Las Vegas. Gruden still had another year left on his Redskins contract that he’ll presumably be getting paid for, so he won’t be in any rush to take an undesirable job.

The Gruden brothers have worked together before, as Jay served as an offensive assistant under his older brother in Tampa Bay for seven seasons. Gruden eventually landed the gig as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator, where he impressed with his ability to coax strong performances out of Andy Dalton. He got the Redskins job after that, and spent five-plus seasons in the nation’s capital before getting fired. Jon recently declined to comment on the possibility of reuniting with his brother.

Antonio Brown Recorded Jon Gruden With Consent

It seems that Antonio Brown‘s pseudo-commerical – featuring sound bites of a phone conversation with Jon Gruden – was part of his social media campaign to push the Raiders for his release. It was speculated that Brown recorded Gruden without his consent, which would open the wide receiver up to legal consequences and NFL discipline. 

Apparently, that’s not the case. The producer of the video tells ESPN’s Dan LeBatard that Gruden approved the use of their conversation (Twitter link).

This would help to explain why Gruden reportedly thought the video was “awesome,” though Brown was released hours after its release. Apparently, this was not the straw that broke the camel’s back, probably because there were many other straws that infuriated the Raiders far more.

Brown, the newest member of the Patriots (somehow), has himself a one-year deal worth up to $15MM, plus a 2020 club option that could be worth $20MM. Here’s the Year One breakdown, per Rapoport (Twitter link): $9MM signing bonus ($5MM paid now, $4MM later), $1MM base pay, $500K in46-man roster bonuses, and “Not Likely To Be Earned” incentives of $1.5MM for each of the following: 105 catches, 1,298 yards, 16 TDs.

Given Brown’s ability and past production, those benchmarks are far from “not likely.” However, for cap purposes, they are designated as NLTBEs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Raiders, Antonio Brown

Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown and GM Mike Mayock got into it this week, and details of the argument are starting to emerge. At some point during the exchange, Brown cursed out Mayock and called him a “cracker,” according to ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson

It was previously reported that Brown also threatened to punch Mayock in the face and punted a football during the exchange. After sending the ball into the sky, Brown told the GM, “Fine me for that!” Mayock, it seems, is ready to take things a step further by suspending the mercurial star, which would put his ~$30MM guarantee in jeopardy.

Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, admits that Brown’s relationship with Mayock is not a great place. Meanwhile, he insists that Brown is on good terms with head coach Jon Gruden.

Right now I think (Antonio Brown’s) relationship with Coach Gruden is good, very good. I’m not going to get into his relationship with Mike Mayock, but I will say that we’re hopeful that that will be a good one, as well. It has been in the past,” Rosenhaus said in an interview on ESPN.

The Raiders are reportedly set to suspend Brown, but nothing has officially happened on that front.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.