The Raiders have fallen apart in the second half of the last two seasons, which means that the team has yet to advance to the postseason since Jon Gruden returned for his second tour as their head coach in 2018.
Given the records the Raiders have compiled early in the last two seasons and the time Gruden has had to put his stamp on the team, it would seem that many would find a fourth straight miss to be inexcusable. Raiders tight end Darren Waller put himself in that group during an appearance on NFL Network.
“I agree. Yeah, we have to make the playoffs,” Waller said. “No more excuses. No more justifications. I know offensively speaking, on the side of the ball that I’m on, we can be better in the red zone. We’re good at a lot of things, but we can definitely be better at red zone efficiency and scoring touchdowns there. Defense, I feel like just for them, the small things and those little habits and how we prepare on a week-to-week basis will carry over into the game, playing a more simpler scheme for them and allowing their individual skill sets to shine and just being more disciplined. I feel like we’re right there outside of a few plays even the defense would agree can’t happen. We’re right there. So I believe in these guys and I know that this year is going to be a special year for us.”
The Raiders have gone from four wins in Gruden’s first year to seven in 2019 and eight last season. Plateauing at that point would make it a tough sell that the team’s on the right track, so plenty of people in Vegas will be hoping Waller’s prediction is on the mark.