ALAMEDA, Calif. — All signs point to Jon Gruden becoming the Oakland Raiders next head coach, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.
The Raiders fired Jack Del Rio after Sunday’s 30-10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, ending his three-year tenure after a disappointing 6-10 record this season.
The firing comes after Del Rio signed a four-year contract extension last offseason.
“Today was kind of a microcosm of our season,” Del Rio said after the Raiders’ 30-10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. “The opportunities and lack of production really not good enough, really disappointing.”
The feeling around the Raiders is owner Mark Davis wouldn’t have fired coach Jack Del Rio unless he believed Jon Gruden was ready to return.
Seen as a Super Bowl contender heading into 2017, the Raiders took a big step backward — particularly on offense — and wound up out of the playoffs.
ESPN analyst Jon Gruden will be tempted to accept a potential offer from the Oakland Raiders but would prefer not to make any decisions until after the regular season ends Sunday, sources told ESPN.
On Saturday night, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Schefter reported that Raiders owner Mark Davis was prepared to pursue Gruden with a strong offer that could include an ownership stake in the team.
A contract including an ownership stake would have to be approved by NFL owners.
The Raiders still have to interview candidates for the job and meet the requirements of the Rooney Rule, but multiple people in the league tell Schefter they believe Gruden will be coaching the Raiders in 2018.
Del Rio said Davis informed him of his firing after Sunday’s game.
“He told me he loved me and appreciated all I did to get this program going in the right direction, but that he felt the need to change,” Del Rio said. “I told him how much I appreciated the opportunity he gave me; very grateful, my childhood team.
“But it’s a results business. I understand that.”
Davis released a statement on Del Rio, saying: “We appreciate Jack’s effort in building the foundation of this team for the future. Thank you to Jack, his wife, Linda, and his daughter, Aubrey, for their important contributions to the Raiders and our local community in Oakland. We wish them all the best.”
The Raiders had high expectations coming into the 2017 season after improving from 7-9 in Del Rio’s first year to 12-4 in 2016 and the franchise’s first playoff appearance in 14 years.
But star quarterback Derek Carr regressed under first-year offensive coordinator Todd Downing, and Ken Norton, Jr. was fired as defensive coordinator after 10 games. The Raiders got next to nothing out of their first- and second-round draft picks as cornerback Gareon Conley and safety Obi Melifonwu played a combined seven games and both ended the season on injured reserve.
“It hurts when something sucky happens to someone you care about. We weren’t good enough for him,” Carr said after Sunday’s game. “We have to take our ownership as players and I think that’s where we’re at right now. We’re kind of angry that we let it get to that and we’re upset at ourselves. We understand the business part of it. But as players — I talked with Khalil (Mack) — our job is to come back better and hungry. We’ve been through some hard times together, and this is right up there with it.”
On the report of the Raiders’ pursuit of Gruden, Carr said: “I know him. I’ve known him for a while. But it’s still pretty fresh (with Del Rio being fired).”
Raiders QB Derek Carr says that Jack Del Rio was “real” when he discussed his firing with the team.
Marshawn Lynch, who came out of retirement to sign with the Raiders before the season, said: “It’s a business.”
Mack, named to his third straight Pro Bowl, said of Del Rio’s firing: “I’ll keep my thoughts to myself.”
Other players also expressed their surprise about the firing.
“I didn’t expect it. It’s a production business. You have to produce to stick around and earn this money. It is just part of the business. It sucks for him but I hope he lands back on his feet,” linebacker NaVorro Bowman said.
“It’s tough. Jack was a coach that played the game. He was a player’s coach. I like those kinds of coaches because they can relate to you easily, Sean Smith said. “He came to work with a smile every day. I definitely enjoyed playing for him. It sucks. He is a coach and he can’t be out there, and as a player, we did not play up to our expectations.”
The season started strong for Del Rio and the Raiders, a popular Super Bowl pick, with wins at the Tennessee Titans and at home against the New York Jets, before a four-game losing streak had Oakland playing catch-up the rest of the season. The surprising 27-10 blowout loss in Week 3 at Washington on national television “shook” the Raiders, general manager Reggie McKenzie said, and they never got above .500 the rest of the way.
Del Rio went 25-23 in his three seasons with the Raiders and lasted longer than any Oakland coach since Gruden from 1998-01. In fact, Del Rio is one of only seven coaches in Raiders franchise history to depart with a winning record, along with Al Davis (23-16-3), John Rauch (33-8-1), John Madden (103-32-7) , Tom Flores (83-53), Art Shell (56-52) and Gruden (38-26).