Is Jon Gruden gambling with Oakland Raiders before Las Vegas move?

Jon Gruden delivers instructions to his Oakland Raiders team during the Wembley defeat by Seattle Seahawks. Picture: Dan Istitene/Getty Images
Jon Gruden delivers instructions to his Oakland Raiders team during the Wembley defeat by Seattle Seahawks. Picture: Dan Istitene/Getty Images
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The New England Patriots showed new kid on the block Patrick Mahomes that the NFL can be an unforgiving place. The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback had a bad first half, throwing two interceptions as the Chiefs fell to a 24-9 deficit at half-time.

Although Mahomes came out in the second half and looked more like the passer he has been so far, moving the ball with ease and leading his team to 31 second-half points, it ended up being in vain. Tom Brady reminded us of his presence by leading his team to a game-winning field goal to give the Patriots a 43-40 win and end the Chiefs’ unbeaten start.

Elsewhere, the New York Jets out-shot Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts to collect their third win of the season and the Miami Dolphins overcame an injury to starting 
quarterback Ryan Tannehill with an overtime win over the Chicago Bears.

The Jacksonville Jaguars had a week to forget as they were routed 40-7 by the Dallas Cowboys.

The Cowboys have been off the pace but quarterback Dak Prescott burst into life on Sunday and looked like the player who was Rookie of the Year in 2016.

Of course, many British NFL fans would have been watching the 
Oakland Raiders “host” the Seattle Seahawks at Wembley on Sunday in the first of the International Series – the Seahawks’ first appearance on UK soil.

Some Raiders fans would have left well before starting quarterback Derek Carr left the field with nearly nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and seconds before the Oakland’s only points of the day. European Seahawks fans who have waited so long for them to play in London will have left a much happier bunch 
having secured an easy 27-3 victory.

On the long flight home, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden will have had a chance to reflect on a bruising day and start planning for their next game in two weeks’ time – the teams who play in London get a week off afterwards.

Losing your fifth game in six is never good and for Gruden the spotlight may shine a little bit brighter in the next few days. Gruden was Raiders coach in 2001 before being traded that off season to Tampa Bay Buccaneers (yes, the head coach was traded) and in 2002 the Buccaneers beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl.

Late in January, Gruden became 
the surprise pick to lead the Raiders franchise as they get ready to move to Las Vegas. He is on a rumoured ten-year $100 million contract. The hope is that the coach who had spent the past ten years as an analyst for ESPN will bring a fresh perspective to a stagnant organisation. Yearning for one last hurrah, Gruden was welcomed by Raiders fans as they hoped he could bring back play-off football at least.

Enthusiasm began to wane when, just before this season started, fan favourite Khalil Mack was traded rather than offered a long-term deal. Giving up their star defensive player was questioned around the league and, although the Raiders acquired two first-round draft picks, it is still considered a poor deal.

Then rumours began 
circulating of a rift in Oakland as the head coach was no longer listening to the scouting department but rather an inner circle, including some media figures.

There are some in the fanbase who feel the Raiders organisation is deliberately sabotaging this season by using rookie players to have them prepared and ready for the team’s first year in Las Vegas. Maybe this has a grain of truth as, speaking after
 yesterdays game, Gruden stated he needed to “get some rookies some experience” before adding “but most importantly we are playing our best players not just playing rookies for the heck of it”.

It was almost as if he was covering his back.

A ten-year contract will undoubtedly make Gruden feel secure but, with one win in his opening six games, surely majority owner Mark Davis will be starting to get nervous about how well the fans in Las Vegas will take to a team in the doldrums.