HENDERSON, Nev. -- Jon Gruden is gone, the cascade of incendiary and offensive emails sealing his fate as he resigned as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night, four seasons into a 10-year, $100 million contract.
The shocking development, five games into the 2021 season, leaves more questions than answers as the team, which started 3-0, is riding a two-game losing streak heading to Denver this weekend. Questions? We have answers ... we think.
Why is Rich Bisaccia the interim coach instead of Gus Bradley or Tom Cable?
Technically, because Bisaccia was the associate head coach, he was next in line. Also, he's one of the most respected special teams coaches in the league -- if not the most -- and commands the locker room like no other. His booming voice carries on the field in more ways than one. Bradley, meanwhile, needs to keep his focus on the defense. It has improved immensely in his first year as defensive coordinator, so why mess with what has been a good thing? Leave him be.
Cable has previous head coaching experience, with the Raiders no less, but has his hands full with a reimagined and constantly influx offensive line. Keep an eye on Greg Olson, though, as he was more QB coach than true offensive coordinator under Gruden but should now be the main playcaller.
Who should be on the short list of head coaching candidates?
For more reasons than one, Mark Davis should have Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy on speed dial. Not only would the Raiders be able to pilfer an offensive coordinator from a division rival, but such a hire would also be a signal that the Raiders are serious about their long-standing commitment to diversity. Especially in the wake of Gruden's emails, which had racial, anti-gay and misogynistic tones.
Also, keep an eye on Stanford coach David Shaw, a former Raiders staffer from 1998 to 2001 under Gruden. Of course, if the Raiders go on a run under Bisaccia's watch, or the offense rights itself with Olson calling the plays, they should also warrant consideration. Davis likes tradition and history when it comes to the only franchise he knows.
How much does Gruden's departure set back the franchise?
How about, a lot? He did sign a 10-year deal when he was hired, after all. Gruden was hired after what Davis called a "seven-year dance" and, until the past week, had the most job security in the NFL. The move to Las Vegas, while consummated before Gruden agreed to return, was aligned with his return to the sidelines.
Gruden's visage dominated billboards around town as Allegiant Stadium was being built to better tempt potential season-ticket holders. The stadium sits on the corner of Al Davis Way and Dean Martin Drive, but the franchise is at a crossroads. And because Gruden resigned, you have to wonder if the Raiders are on the hook for the remaining $60-plus million left on his deal.
How does this affect quarterback Derek Carr, who was off to the best start of his career through three games?
Upon his return to the Raiders in 2018, Gruden changed his manic coaching style a tad to suit Carr's more sensitive sensibilities, and Carr has responded in kind, improving every year under Gruden's tutelage. But an oft-volatile but productive relationship like Gruden had with Rich Gannon at the turn of the century? Not even close.
Carr had a tough time when wide receiver Antonio Brown blew up the Raiders in 2019, so it will be interesting to see how he responds with Gruden gone. He does have a longer relationship, though, with Olson, who was his OC with the Raiders as a rookie in 2014. The shock of Gruden's abrupt departure will either spur him to become even more of a leader and face of the franchise with more freedom on the field, or Carr -- who is reportedly not interested in contract extension talks during the season -- will simply play out the string. And with Gruden, his biggest defender in the building, gone, how much longer will Carr be a Raider?
Does Mike Mayock take control of player personnel?
Who else would it be? Look, Mayock is the general manager, hired with the approval of Gruden, but Mayock also acknowledged Gruden had the final decision on roster moves. This unlocks Mayock, who was most definitely on the hot seat (fair or unfair) after so many seeming early draft misses thus far -- Clelin Ferrell, taken at No. 4 overall in 2019, played 11 defensive snaps in Sunday's loss to the Chicago Bears. Mayock will make or break his own legacy going forward, and Davis might not have the stomach to completely overhaul the front office. Again.