Steve Wyche lives in the Bay Area, he has family in Oakland, and he’s quite familiar with the Oakland Raiders and their fan base.
So he knows just how important the Jon Gruden hire was for the franchise.
“They had turned their back on the Raiders with the relocation, with the disappointing season, and this right here has done, at least temporarily, a 180 in terms of the feel for the Raiders – by just signing Jon Gruden to coach,” the NFL Network analyst said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “The fans know they’re going to be losing their team, but he brought them back. They were in a pretty dark place before Jon Gruden took over (the first time). Rich Gannon was an MVP, he bought them an exciting brand of football, and I do think they feel there’s some unfinished business. Gruden goes to Tampa, comes back and beats the Raiders in the Super Bowl, so I think they feel there’s unfinished business.”
Gruden coached the Raiders from 1998-2001. He went 16-16 in his first two seasons but 22-10 in his last two.
The Raiders rolled out the red carpet for Gruden’s introductory news conference Tuesday.
“This was like a news conference you see at the Super Bowl,” Wyche said. “It was as gargantuan of a news conference as I have seen, and it really kid of set the table for the hype of Gruden being back.”
That’s what happens when you hire a guy who has a) won a Super Bowl and b) been the voice of Monday Night Football for almost a decade.
“This is a famous guy who’s taking over a team that everyone knows is talented,” Wyche said. “He’s inheriting a very good situation, much like he did in Tampa when he took over there. I think people feel that he could right the ship pretty quickly and get them back into the playoffs next season.”
In 2016, the Raiders went 12-4 and reached the postseason for the first time since 2002. This year, however, they finished a disappointing 6-10.
Gruden plans to fix that.
“He has clearly switched into the coaching frame of mind,” Wyche said. “I don’t know if he ever left it, even though he was a very good broadcaster and clearly studied and practiced his craft. But you can tell there’s already things he wanted to do (in terms of strategy and personnel). So he’s in that frame of mind. He gave me the Chucky eyes a couple times while we were talking. He’s clearly made that switch – so quickly and so passionately – and with him, there’s no pretending. It’s all 100 percent.”