As has been the case for much of the last two decades, chaos is reigning with the Raiders.
Jon Gruden’s team fizzled in the back-half of the season for the second-straight year, losing five of their last seven games to fall to 8-8 and out of the playoffs after starting 6-3.
Their downfall culminated in a devastating loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 16, where Dolphins receiver Mack Hollins got wide open downfield in the closing seconds of the game, setting up Jason Sanders for a game-winning field goal (also aided by a roughing the passer call on Arden Key). The loss officially eliminated them from the postseason.
According to the Athletic, Raiders receiver Nelson Agholor – who had gone for 155 yards and a TD in that game – began screaming at his teammates afterward, ripping them for a lack of accountability and “flat-out accepting” their late-season slide.
“Agholor told his teammates that they sucked,” according to the article.
Gruden, GM Mike Mayock and several players, including linebacker Nicholas Morrow, preached accountability in the media, but Mayock also turned heads when he criticized his own draft picks on the Raiders’ team website. In a Q&A, Mayock criticized wide receiver Henry Ruggs III, the Raiders’ 11th-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, as well as fellow rookie, cornerback Damon Arnette.
“I was disappointed in the productivity of our rookies, I’ll be the first person to admit that,” Mayock said. “You can make excuses, you can have a conversation why. Henry Ruggs, I think is who he is, I’m not disappointed in Henry; I think Henry has to get better. We knew how fast he is, but he has to get stronger, and he has to get in and out of his breaks better.”
It’s a questionable quote considering Mayock took Ruggs as the first receiver off the board over CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy and Justin Jefferson, all who were considered to have more NFL-ready skill sets (and performed significantly better in year one).
Ruggs ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, but Mayock and the Raiders may have fallen in love with the tools over the player (as the franchise did in 2009 with Darrius Heyward-Bey). Ruggs logged 462 yards and two TDs in his rookie season, while Jefferson went to the Pro Bowl with 1,400 yards and seven TDs. Lamb and Jeudy amassed 935 and 856 yards, respectively, with considerably more volatile quarterback situations.