Focus Shifts to Gruden After Raiders Give Del Rio Swift, Decisive Axe

CARSON – Raiders owner Mark Davis made a swift and decisive action firing head coach Jack Del Rio minutes after Sunday's 30-10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

The man, it seems, has a plan.

Canning Del Rio was the first phase. Hiring Jon Gruden is likely next.

One move seems to be made with the other in mind, to lure Gruden out of the broadcast booth and back into silver and black.

The former Raiders head coach is Davis' white whale, someone he's been after for some time now. He would've hired Gruden over Dennis Allen in 2012 if possible. Gruden wasn't ready.

He would've hired Gruden over Del Rio in 2015. Gruden wasn't ready.

Davis has to believe that Gruden's ready now. Sunday's move was made with confidence. That's why the axe fell swiftly and without remorse.

The Raiders are pushing hard to get the man Al Davis traded to Tampa Bay following the 2001 season, the man who beat them the following year in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

All signs point to Gruden becoming the next Raiders head coach. They're reportedly going to make him an offer he can't refuse, with boatloads of cash and possibly an ownership stake.

Many have tried to lure Gruden back to coaching. All have failed to the point that skepticism should hang over a Gruden-Raiders reunion, on some level at least, until the old ball coach definitively states he'll return to the NFL.

The Raiders have to interview at least one other coach to satisfy the Rooney Rule. If Gruden is agreeable, the hiring process could move fast.

Reports from Sunday night state that Gruden has already reached out to assistants, and that Rich Gannon is in line to become quarterbacks coach.

Davis' grand plan seems close to completion, with but a few steps remaining to realize a long-term goal.

Gruden is beloved in the East Bay, and would energize a local fanbase Davis is counting on to fill Oakland Coliseum seats the next two seasons while his new Las Vegas stadium is being built. He'd also like to take the market with him to Sin City in 2020, and a few solid seasons with a rock star coach at the helm could aid that cause.

Davis had to fire Del Rio before any of this could happen, and he didn't even wait to get back to Oakland. He dropped the hammer without reservation or cash consideration. He gave Del Rio a new four-year contract 11 months ago, and didn't care one bit about the $15 million in guaranteed money left on the deal. There's a pot of gold waiting for him in Las Vegas, one that allows him to make bold moves and do everything possible to get his guy.

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