Two days after the resignation of head coach Jon Gruden, the Raiders have moved on and are preparing to continue toward the goal of making the playoffs.
“As far as the team is concerned, bottom line we are 3-2 in Week 6,” said General Manager Mike Mayock. “A lot of these interim head coach deals over the years it’s like Week 15 and guys are already packing their bags.
“That’s not the case here. All of our goals are ahead of us. 3-2, one game out of the AFC lead. The focus has got to be on Denver.”
And the team will do so under interim head coach Rich Bisaccia. Mayock said he’s endorsed Bisaccia for many head coaching positions through the years, for both colleges and NFL teams. Mayock described him as a “special person.”
“Since he’s a special teams coach he’s involved with more players on the team than any other coach in our building,” Mayock said. “He’s involved with the offensive guys. He’s involved with the defensive guys.”
Raiders have moved on after team meeting
Mayock said there was a team meeting earlier Wednesday that included owner Mark Davis going over the timeline of what happened since a Wall Street Journal report came out last Friday about Gruden’s email using racial slurs about NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith.
Following Davis’ talk, Mayock talked about resources available for anyone needing to address the situation. Then Bisaccia talked about himself “as a person and a coach” and then redirected the conversation back to football and the team’s game this coming Sunday at Denver.
“Here’s what I think; I think we have an intelligent locker room,” Mayock said. “I think over the last three years we’ve done a pretty good job of bringing in the right kind of people. I’ve touched base with as many of the guys as I could over the last several days.
“We talked with the players. The captains spoke up at the team meeting to a certain extent and boy were they eloquent.”
The team started the season 3-0 but have since lost two straight in underwhelming fashion. First, falling behind early and losing to Chargers and then last week, two days after the first Gruden emails article was published, a loss to the Chicago Bears.
Mayock said he doesn’t believe the uninspiring performance in a 20-9 home loss to the Bears had been impacted by the first report of Gruden’s emails.
No leadership vacuum as Raiders have moved on
Gruden was the most powerful voice in the locker room, but Mayock said he doesn’t believe his loss will leave a vacuum of leadership with the team. He said his role will be to continue to service the coaching staff. He said he spoke with the defensive back coaches Wednesday morning about players available to sign, just as he would have done the week before.
He also believes Bisaccia will fit right in as head coach.
“Rich Bisaccia is the best leader I have ever been around,” Mayock said. :The players respect and love Rich Bisaccia, so from that perspective he and I are all in together on this 100 percent. We are 3-2 and so any kind of conversation about what we are going to do after the season to me is premature.
“We’re going to let the season play out, we’re going to see what happens and I’m going to back this son of a gun unequivocally.”
Mayock also feels good about the team responding to Bisaccia and are committed to the goals of making the playoffs this season.
“Every player that I’ve talked to the reaction has been, ‘We are all in. We’ve been all in and, okay, Coach Gruden is gone,’” Mayock said. “And what I said to the players this morning is that there’s a spectrum of opinions out there about Jon Gruden, from total condemnation to full empathy and everything in between. And what I said to the players basically is that you’re entitled to your position.”
Mayock mentioned a conversation he had with Carl Nassib, the Raiders defensive end who is the only openly gay player in the league. In a second article that was published Monday by the New York Times, new emails from Gruden surfaced in which he used homophobic and misogynistic verbage.
“(Nassib) and I spoke yesterday a couple of times,” Mayock said. :Spoke again today and are going to meet later this afternoon. He requested a personal day today. He just said he’s got a lot to process. There is a lot that has been going on the last few days and of course we support that request.”