After an ugly first year in Oakland, Jon Gruden suddenly looks like he has his team heading in the right direction.
Sunday’s win over the Bears improves the Raiders to 3-2 on the season. Right now they’d be the final wild card team in the AFC playoffs, and even if they’re far from a safe bet to make the postseason, that’s an enormous step forward from last year, when they finished 4-12.
And they’re doing it with two first-round rookies, defensive end Clelin Ferrell and safety Johnathan Abram, out with injuries, and leading receiver Tyrell Williams out as well. Between those injuries and the disaster that was Antonio Brown, the Raiders have had plenty of adversity, but Gruden’s team has handled it.
Rookie running back Josh Jacobs, acquired with one of the first-round picks the Raiders got from the Bears in the Khalil Mack trade, had 26 carries for 123 yards and two touchdowns, plus three catches for 20 yards, in yesterday’s win. The Raiders also have the Bears’ first-round pick next year, and if that player and Jacobs are good players for the Raiders for years to come, that’s going to change the narrative around the Mack trade.
The Raiders’ rebuild appears to be ahead of schedule. That should generate plenty of excitement in their new home of Las Vegas in 2020, when they have two first-round draft picks and lots of cap space. In Year 2 for Gruden’s return to Oakland, things are looking up.
In 2020, Year 1 in Las Vegas, the Raiders are poised to win.