The Jon Gruden 2.0 era in Oakland has not gotten off to a great start.
First, the best player on the team, Khalil Mack, was traded before the start of the season to the Chicago Bears for first-round picks in 2019 and 2020, a third rounder in 2020, and a sixth rounder in 2019. There’s also been talk that Oakland has put one of its best offensive players, wide receiver Amari Cooper, on the trading block.
Through six games the Raiders are 1-5 and own the worst record in the NFL, along with the Colts, Giants, Cardinals and 49ers.
Now, to add to its woes, the team has been hit with a $20,000 fine by the league for violating a rule about player injury designations, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Thursday.
Source: The #Raiders have been fined $20,000 for violating the NFL Injury Report Policy for failing to downgrade G Kelechi Osemele from “questionable” to “out” when he didn’t travel with the team to their Week 5 game vs the #Chargers in LA.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 18, 2018
Rapoport said the Raiders violated the league’s Injury Report Policy because they failed to downgrade guard Kelechi Osemele from “questionable” to “out” when he didn’t travel to their Oct. 7 game against the Chargers, which they lost 26-10.
The policy says that any player listed as “questionable” or “doubtful” must be downgraded to “out” if he doesn’t travel. The team must also notify the local media, The Associated Press, the opponent’s public relations director and the NFL communications office.
For a team that signed Gruden to a 10-year, $100 million contract, a $20,000 fine is a drop in the bucket. Still, it’s another drop of bad news in a dismal season.
The more impactful problem is the loss of Osemele, a two-time Pro Bowl guard in 2016 and 2017. Gruden told the San Francisco Chronicle Tuesday that Osemele, who has missed the last two weeks with a knee injury, is making progress, but there’s no timeline for his return.
Meanwhile, fans are already growing impatient with the $100 million man. One fan started a website called Is Gruden Gone Yet, which has a countdown clock until Gruden’s contract is up.
The “Is Gruden Gone Yet” website is ruthless. pic.twitter.com/aEEzNqG9sZ
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) October 16, 2018
But Gruden is trying to block out the noise as he continues to rebuild the Raiders into the type of team he wants.
“I’ll say this: We aren’t tanking anything,” Gruden said this week, reported ESPN. “I hear the hatred out there, some of the rumors that we are tanking it to get a first-round pick or a higher pick. We are not getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning to tank it. Ain’t nobody tanking it. … We are going to continue to work hard, continue to build our team.”
“I’m telling you, we’re working hard to solidify this roster every day and improve ourselves and get the right people on the field,” he added. “Those are decisions that we’re looking at. We’re going to continue to try to develop our young players. We’re going to stay on the gas pedal and go as hard as we can.”
The good news, considering how the season has gone so far, is the Raiders have a bye this week and some winnable games coming up after the bye. Three of their next four games are against other 1-5 teams: the Colts, 49ers and Cardinals.
It’s too early to make any judgments on Gruden yet. Remember, the Seahawks were 7-9 in the first two years under Pete Carroll as he built one of the best defenses and most successful teams of this decade, and Bill Belichick was 5-11 in his first season with the Patriots as he went about building one of the league’s greatest dynasties.
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