Not since 2016 has the Silver and Black found its way into the postseason dance.
For Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock, he's entering his third season with the club, and making his first trip to the playoffs is the onus for the campaign ahead.
"Jon [Gruden] and I will both tell you that we feel like we need to be a playoff team this year, and I don't think there's any doubt about that," Mayock said Wednesday, per ESPN's Paul Gutierrez. "You guys are all going to put that in your headlines, and I understand it, but that's what the expectation is. We think we've done the infrastructure work necessary to put us in position, and we've got to take care of business."
Indeed, Mayock's prognostication about his comments making headlines has come true, but predicting the Raiders' fate in 2021 will prove more difficult. After all, Las Vegas shares the AFC West with the two-time reigning AFC champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers aren't to be slept on either.
Nonetheless, a pivotal season awaits the Gruden-Mayock regime.
Since returning to the Raiders, Gruden has produced a 19-29 record in three years, with the team going 15-17 over the last two seasons with Mayock in the building.
Having come under fire for draft choices -- particularly in the first round -- who have not panned out, Mayock believes the Raiders' younger charges struggled last season due to havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Admittedly, every team had to deal with the same chaotic offseason, but Mayock believes things were perhaps a bit more arduous for the Raiders youngins.
"The lack of training camp, I'm not sure if people really understand -- all 32 teams dealt with it, so I'm not complaining, please don't take it that way -- but it's just a different developmental path for the young guys, right?" Mayock said.
And that path has a few more twists and turns within the Raiders' system.
"I was frustrated because I felt like, in our system, on both sides of the ball, it's tough on young guys," Mayock said. "The volume is tough, especially on offense. It's tough. So no offseason camp was brutal. COVID, managing COVID was hard."
Things are unlikely to get any easier for Mayock and Co., who are still looking for sustained production from developing youngers such as Clelin Ferrell, Johnathan Abram, Damon Arnette, Henry Ruggs III and this year's surprise first-rounder, Alex Leatherwood.
But with every new season comes new hope and aspirations. This time around, there's a bit more of a normal(ish) offseason for the Raiders to build off of, as well.
"I'm fired up, and it's part of A) being back to normal, but B) more just the accumulation of three years," Mayock said. "My dad used to say, 'Don't worry about whether or not the horse is blind -- just load the freaking truck.' That's where we are. We've assembled 53 players. We think we're going to be a pretty good football team. We're not hiding from expectations."