Continuity is akin to grasping a cloud in Oakland. The more the Raiders tried, the more futile the exercise became. The only consistency the marauders from the Bay could attain was defeat. Sure, Raider Nation was teased with glorious sunshine in the dark and gloomy years. But true to form, the Raiders were again Silver and Bleek. And in comes Jon Gruden to the rescue!
Oh, he’s amped for the challenge. And priority number one for the new head honcho is consistency. Gruden even called out the team’s myriad of coaches since he was swiftly dealt to Tampa Bay by then-owner and legend Al Davis.
“We also, I think, need to put a system in place here that our players can grow within,” Gruden told San Francisco-based radio station KNBR, last week. “We’ve had 10 different head coaches, I believe, since I’ve been here. We’ve had a number of different offensive coaches and poor Reggie McKenzie has had to draft different players to fit different schemes and systems. I think that hurt us.”
In no way, does that absolve McKenzie of draft day misfires. It isn’t meant to do so. It was said to highlight the unenviable task the Raiders general manager was tasked with. A coach and a personnel man work in unison. One tells the other what type of player(s) he wants and the other seeks it out and attains those players. McKenzie brought the coaches their preferred ingredients and it was up to that staff to cook up the meal.
Gruden’s vision is crystal clear: Install a scheme that won’t make sharp turns year to year.
Sure, it will evolve and adjust with the times, but the system isn’t going to go from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and to whatever the hell you want to classify those ineffective and putrid schemes in years past.
The time for haphazard course corrections is over. One captain steering towards one singular course — victory.
McKenzie, a personnel man Gruden noted as coming from the same Ron Wolf tree (Green Bay) as himself, is also eager for the task.
“Bottom line, it’s a team effort. We’re a team,” McKenzie said during Gruden’s introductory press conference back in January. “It’s gonna be a Raider decision. Bottom line. We’re gonna work great together.”
And that begins in earnest this week. Indianapolis will be popping as the league descends upon the NFL Scouting Combine. The Underwear Olympics kick off this coming Friday with running backs, offensive linemen and specialists getting put under the microscope.
Amongst the herd of personnel men and coaches, perhaps Gruden is in attendance, too. After all, he expressed his frustrations of the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which prevents him from making contact with his players. Since he can’t make any headway in that regard, might as well get a jump on prospects, no? He can at least have a sit-down conversation with them.
“We’ve got a ways to go, but we’re implementing our scheme, we’re preparing for free agency, and the draft, and we’re getting ready to go to the combine in Indianapolis and we’re going to do all we can to bring the Silver and Black back.”