Jon Gruden is not the answer.
A very, very long time ago, I wrote a hub on here called "Jon Gruden. Hack or Hero?" and honestly... I didn't mean anything by it.
Other than being poorly written, I was just trying to question how much of his success in Tampa Bay should be attributed to him, and how much should be attributed to Tony Dungy.
I didn't mock his coaching style, his demeanor, or even his obsession with compiling quarterbacks.
That all changes now.
Okay, I get it.
It's really hard being a Raiders fan.
Trust me, I know... I am one.
It's been a long time since the Raiders were good.
The last time the Oakland Raiders had a winning record, the first Harry Potter movie had just hit theaters, Friends was still on TV, and Nickelback's "How You Remind Me" was the year's hottest single.
It's been that long.
Some seasons, the team was interesting.
Hell, during Hue Jackson's chaotic 2011 season, they may not have been very good, but at least they were exciting.
But more often than not...
They'e just been hard to watch.
Terrible draft picks, free agency nightmares, and constant overhaul at the head coaching position have kept the Raiders in the 3-5 win range in 10 of the last 12 seasons.
It's been hard to watch, I know.
So, it makes perfect sense that diehard fans would embrace nostalgia and look to a simpler, more successful time.
Between the 2000 and 2002 NFL seasons, the Oakland Raiders were one of the NFL's elite.
With superstars like 2002's league MVP, Rich Gannon, hall of fame wide receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice, as well as future hall of fame defensive back, Charles Woodson anchoring the team, they were unstoppable.
They were truly fun to watch, and it would be completely unfair to mention that time period without crediting head coach, Jon Gruden.
Gruden employed the west coast offense he learned in San Francisco and Green Bay from Mike Holmgren, and the Raiders offense finished in the top five in three of his four years there.
In his version of the west coast offense, he revitalized the careers of Tim Brown and Jerry Rice, a well as giving Rich Gannon an offense that suited his strengths.
I can't take anything away from the offense that he ran in Oakland.
It was so good, that in 2002, when Al Davis traded "Chucky" to Tampa Bay, they kept using it, and it got them to the Super Bowl.
Of course... This is where Raider nostalgia goes to die, because who did they face in that Super Bowl but Jon Gruden and his Buccaneers.
A Buccaneer team loaded with defensive superstars.
Defensive superstars that knew more about the offense than some of the Raiders players did.
It was bloodier than the Red Wedding, and the cackling Jon Gruden played a merciless George R.R. martin.
That's where a lot of the misery stems from for Raiders fans.
You've gotta think that if Jon Gruden had been the head coach, the Raiders would've won their fourth Super Bowl that year.
This sends the Raider Nation down a dark path.
If Chucky never left, maybe the Raiders would've won that Super Bowl.
Maybe Gannon wouldn't have gotten hurt the year after that.
Maybe the Raiders wouldn't have become such a laughing stock.
"What if" is a dangerous game, and it's one that the passionate and disillusioned Raider Nation find themselves playing all too often.
So, what's the natural response?
Hire him back!
What a great idea!
He's not coaching right now, let's just hire Jon Gruden!
We'll pick up right where we left off!...
Fourteen years ago.
Look, I understand the reasoning.
It's like this.
In high school, you were hot stuff.
You were the prom king, student body president, captain of the football team, yada yada yada.
And you had this really sweet girlfriend.
An absolute doll.
But... You thought you deserved better.
There's a girl in your chemistry class, and she's willing to do some crazy stuff... that you girlfriend just won't.
You're hot stuff, you'll always be hot stuff, you can always get another girl later.
So you dump her for the chick in chemistry.
Except... She's not all that.
Her breath smells bad, she's got an annoying laugh, and it turns out you're not all that crazy about the crazy stuff you dumped your girlfriend for in the first place.
And now, it's even worse, because your ex?
She's dating a football player from another school.
The school you play in the state championship.
You go out there, and they just kick your ass.
They run up the score and your high school glory days are over.
Not only are they over, but as you sit on the bench, dejected, you see your ex celebrating with her new boyfriend.
Ten years pass.
You're a fat alcoholic, working at a Walgreens, rambling about your glory days, telling all the young kids about how you used to be the man in high school, passionately reliving your best football moments, exaggerating as much as you can, and you get to thinking.
"Man, I really shouldn't have dumped that girl. She was really good to me".
So you start thinking, "I SHOULD GET HER BACK! THEN I'LL BE THE MAN AGAIN"
It's that sad, you guys.
But here's the thing.
You don't really want that girl back.
You just wanna feel like you did when you had that girl.
The reality is, you've changed.
So has she.
You just want the idea of what you think she is.
You don't really want Jon Gruden.
The reality is, he was only the head coach for four years, and we only had a winning record in two of those years.
Two years, I add, when our division was really terrible.
Brian Griese, Trent Green, and Doug Flutie were starting for the other teams in our division.
In our best season under Gruden, we went up to New England and lost to a kid who was practically a rookie.
Sure, the loss was controversial to say the least, and yeah, that kid turned out to be Tom Brady, but... still... It should've been a rout.
And if we're being honest, Jon Gruden wasn't that great of a coach.
Sure, he won a Super Bowl in Tampa...
But wasn't his gimmick that he was an offensive-minded coach?
How come the offenses on his Buccaneer teams were so terrible?
Sure, he had Mike Alstott and Keyshawn Johnson, but neither of them had great showings in Tampa.
Alstott never had a 1,000 yard season, and Johnson had 17 touchdowns... over the course of 4 years.
How come he only went on to make the playoffs two more times with Tampa?
Is it possible that much like Mike Tomlin (shots fired, incidentally), Gruden inherited a really good Tampa team that Tony Dungy built, and he just happened to run into a Raider team that he knew inside and out?
Tony Dungy went on to be a hall of fame coach in Indianapolis... What did Chucky do other than go 55-57 in Tampa?
That blowout win over the Raiders?
That was the last playoff win of his career...
The reality of the situation is...
Jon Gruden is basically Brian Billick.
Despite being hired for his offensive prowess, he road the coattails of a really good defense to a championship, before eventually losing his locker room.
I think it's completely fair to question if Jon Gruden was ever really a great coach.
And on top of that...
The game does change, and he's been out of it for a while now.
Jon Gruden was fired back in 2009.
That's six years ago folks.
The NFL is always changing. It's always evolving.
Wanna know what the trendy offensive gimmick was the year Gruden was fired?
Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown were running the wildcat in Miami under Tony Sparano when Gruden was fired.
If you think that coaches can just come and go and be the same, let me give you an example.
Legendary Redskins coach, winner of three Lombardi trophies, and the only coach to ever win three titles with three different starting quarterbacks.
Gibbs had lead the Redskins to three straight playoff appearances, and had a proud 124- 64 record when he retired in 1992.
Thinking he could just pick up where he left off, he came back to the Redskins twelve years later.
He accumulated a 30-34 record and was eventually forced back into retirement.
Jon Gruden is no Joe Gibbs.
Now... There is a counter argument for that.
You could say, that because Gruden has been in the booth, calling Monday Night Football, that he still understands the game.
And I get that, I appreciate that.
That raises an interesting point...
How could anyone watch Monday Night Football, hear Jon Gruden talk, and think....
"I want that guy to coach my team".
Other than being a complete nut, saying stuff like, "Mike, did you ever see the movie 'Cast Away?' In that movie, Tom Hanks' only friend was a ball named Wilson. In this game, Russell Wilson's only friend is a football", Chucky just doesn't understand the game anymore.
People always make fun of John Madden, a real Raider legend, for giving painfully obvious analysis during games, but Gruden... He reinvented it.
He just reads off stats, makes bland observations like "Wow, what a throw there", and gives everyone stupid nicknames.
Looking at you, "Sheriff".
You've got a guy in Steve Young on the same show who actually gives really great analysis pre and post-game.
Why not throw him up there with Chucky and Tirico?
Let Tirico feed Young and Chucky expositional questions, let Young answer, and let Gruden be whacky, because that's all he's good for.
Watch MNF this week, ignore the game, really listen to Jon Gruden.
If you can do that, and you still think he should be coaching the Raiders, then I'm so, so happy you'll never be in a position to make that decision.
I get why Raider fans want Chucky back.
I really do.
But the reality is, they don't actually want Gruden back.
They want, what I think we all want.
And that's for the Raiders to be competitive again.
They want to have a reason to root every Sunday.
They want something to feel hopeful about, and the last time we had that, Chucky was calling the plays.
But that dream is gone.
That dream is dead.
Bringing Gruden back won't make the Raiders contenders, it won't make them champions, and it won't undo the last 14 years.
There's no "Raider Curse" that will be reversed if Gruden comes back.
The future is a complete mystery to all of us, but that's where the Raider Nation needs to start looking.
The future of the Raiders isn't Coach Gruden.
It's not Gruden, or Cable, or Jackson.
Rich Gannon isn't walking through that door with a linebacking corps.
Nnamdi Asomugha isn't coming out of retirement to anchor the secondary.
The future of the Raiders is in the hands of players like Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, and Amari Cooper.
When the Raiders come out of the tunnel, I don't know.
But I do know this.
Jon Gruden is not the answer.