Jon Gruden: Lack of coaching continuity has hurt Raiders

Raiders coach Jon Gruden believes general manager Reggie McKenzie hasn't been able to create continuity because the team has changed head coaches so often. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Jon Gruden has an idea as to why the Oakland Raiders have struggled so mightily since around the turn of the century.

The team has lacked continuity at the top.

“We ... have to put a system in place here that our players can grow within,” Gruden told KNBR 680 late Wednesday afternoon. “I mean, we have had 10 different head coaches, I believe, since [he was last] here. We’ve had a number of different offensive coaches. And poor Reggie McKenzie has had to draft players to fit different schemes and systems and I think it’s hurt us.

“A lack of continuity, a lack of system football on offense and defense has certainly hurt the Raiders.”

Time for a roll call, then, of the nine head coaches the Raiders have employed since Gruden was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002: Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Art Shell, Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable, Hue Jackson, Dennis Allen, Tony Sparano and Jack Del Rio.

Only Del Rio lasted a full three seasons, and only Del Rio had a cumulative winning record, going 25-23 the past three years.

More proof of differing messages? Here are the 10 offensive coordinators (one served twice) since Gruden left: Marc Trestman, Jimmy Raye, John Shoop, Tom Walsh, Greg Knapp, Hue Jackson, Al Saunders, Knapp again, Greg Olson, Bill Musgrave and Todd Downing.

On defense, the Raiders have had six playcallers (with one repeat) since 2002: Chuck Bresnahan, Rob Ryan, John Marshall, Bresnahan again, Jason Tarver, Ken Norton Jr., John Pagano.

Gruden will, of course, call the plays on offense, with Olson returning to help with the game plan and tutor quarterback Derek Carr. Gruden hired Paul Guenther as his defensive coordinator.

“Hopefully we can put a system in place that we can draft into, develop our players within, and hopefully it can carry us to high levels,” Gruden said. “We’ve just got to prove it.”

He has time. With a 10-year contract to coach the Raiders, Gruden might just be able to address that continuity issue.