Jon Gruden sounds like a broken record when he talks about his quarterback.
“He’s got exceptional arm talent,” is how Gruden begins every answer to the Derek Carr inquiry. No, for real. Watch or listen to every single interview. When the topic of his starting quarterback is broached to the Oakland Raiders head coach, the response starts with the ‘arm talent’ line every single time. And it follows with this:
“It’s quick, it’s accurate, he can throw with touch and velocity. This guy can really uncork it.”
Watching and listening to Gruden’s SiriusXM NFL Radio interview at last week’s NFL combine was an excursion in hackneyed coach speak and heavy-duty football banter. One second you get your expected gridiron cliché and the next, Gruden hits you with terminology that will leave you questioning if you know anything about the game.
But the resounding message in that interview and the slew of others Gruden has partaken in is this: The Raiders $125 million Carr is in for a tune-up and it’s going to drive itself.
“The quarterback is being empowered now more than he has ever before,” Gruden said. “Me and (Rich) Gannon still argue, ‘You should have audibled.’ I’d ask Gannon and Brad Johnson to fix plays at the line of scrimmage all the time. When you watch the magnificent teams, the quarterback is not only distributing the football, he’s making critical decisions with protection and changing plays at the line of scrimmage. And that’s what we’re gonna do.”
Oh, if that message sounds familiar, it is. It’s the broken record that was spinning haphazardly on the Raiders’ turntable when Jack Del Rio was boss man. He and his crew too, spit glorious game about how Carr would be in command. The line of scrimmage would be his domain and his alone. Lies. Big. Fat. Lies.
Control was Del Rio’s and his chosen one Todd Downing. And the result was brain drain and Carr point-blank stating he does whatever the coaches want him to.
Gruden and Greg Olson aren’t about empty rhetoric. The words sound genuine. Like Chucky said in the interview, while he has a sizeable ego, it doesn’t preclude him allowing his signal caller from deviating and fixing his play call. It’s not Gruden who is under center, after all. And he knows full well that’s the system Carr needs to thrive.
“When he was at Fresno State, he was calling his own plays in a no-huddle offense,” Gruden said. “50 points a game, Davante Adams was his split end. That’s what we’re going to ask him to do: Get more involved at the line of scrimmage, recognize a defense and communicate what we want done and execute.
The double talk is over. Gruden makes no bones about it. The franchise QB needs solidarity around him. And the Raiders are set to deliver.
“I think he’s been victimized with injuries and the lack of continuity,” Gruden said. “He’s had four different head coaches and I don’t know how many coordinators he’s had. That’s hard for a young quarterback.”
Perhaps as hard as Gruden will be on Carr?
That’s another conversation for a different piece.