New Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden says some interesting things. He’s been a hot topic for sports journalists, who have taken his soundbites and run to all different ends of the universe. To that end, it’s important to decipher some of Gruden’s statements that have been misconstrued and hopefully understand the man better. And with that, here’s a quick “Gruden to English” dictionary.
“I’m trying to throw the game back to 1998”
The first year that Gruden’s back at the combine as a head coach so of course he’ll have questions to answer. At the podium, he was asked a question about his use of analytics. His response was recorded and apparently listened to over and over again, but it wasn’t clearly heard.
The “rookie” head coach part deux has a clear picture of what his team looks like and the personnel that he was handed did not fit that mold. Analytics has nothing to do with the men who are going to be standing on the field. That is the part that Gruden concentrates on. As for analytics, he has “people” for that. What he wants from 1998 is hard-nosed, big man football. Head smashing, bloody trickling, more than one stretcher standing by on the sidelines. That’s football.
Gruden is famous for running a fullback blocker in front of a power back. He’s known for running three tight ends regularly, two big blockers and a receiver. He likes the classic use of these positions, which is no longer common in today’s league.
The amount of critics waiting for a Gruden failure is at its peak so it’s no surprise that things get taken out of context. This particular quote has since been clarified thanks to Michael Gehlken of Las Vegas Review Journal, but always bears repeating.
Gruden is Taking all the heat for their failures
Gruden has made it clear that he is the head coach of this team. That includes the failures. He’s taken ownership of his role unlike most coaches in recent years, and certainly a departure from the leadership the team had last year. Gruden realizes that the coach is the beginning and the end of the line. Without a good leader, teams don’t thrive, and Gruden is firm in that belief. It’s a refreshing change of pace.
On His Critics
A roar erupted throughout the NFL when Mark Davis handed Jon Gruden one of the biggest checks in NFL history. The team contracted with Gruden for 10 years to the tune of $100 Million. The overwhelming response was that he’s been out of the game too long to earn that kind of payday, he’s way too out of touch for the speed and technology of today’s game, and he wasn’t that good of a coach anyways. Well to this, Gruden responded in Gruden fashion.
Jon Gruden asked about critics who question his adaptability. He quipped: “Who are my critics? Has anyone criticized them? … You’ve got to adapt or die, and I don’t plan on dying.”
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) March 27, 2018
Gruden spends his days on football. He spends his nights on football. The man probably dreams about football. He dedicates more time to the game in a week than most fans will dedicate in an entire season. To say that he’s been out of the game is ignorant of the facts. He didn’t step away from the game at any point in time. Per Jon’s Wikipedia page:
Shortly after being fired from Tampa Bay, Gruden created the Fired Football Coaches Association. The organization (a “football think-tank”) had its headquarters in a rented office in a Tampa strip mall. The FFCA was known to have a large amount of game and player film collected by Gruden as well as playbooks and Gruden was known to have game plans of his own that he kept updated over the years he was not actively coaching. Many coaches such as Chip Kelly, Urban Meyer, Jim Haslett, Rick Venturi, Sean McVay, Greg Schiano and Monte Kiffin and many players came to the facility to watch film and talk with Gruden. Gruden closed the FFCA upon his returning to coaching in 2018 moving the game and player film along with the other information he held there to Oakland.
Plenty of time spent on the game of football and resources most teams can only dream of.
On Taking Johnny Manziel
Back in 2014, quarterbacks were the talk of the draft. There was excitement across the board about the crop of QB’s coming out of that class that there was actually a Top 10 list all expected to go in rounds 1-3. For some perspective, this year has six that are expected to be picked up between rounds 1-3. WalterFootball.com predicted Manziel would be off the board by pick 25, and ranked him as the #1 QB in that draft. So how many people didn’t pick Manziel as a first rounder? Not many.
So four years later, when given the opportunity to have BOTH Manziel and Derek Carr on the same team, Gruden’s choice was simple. Carr is his superstar, Manziel is yesterday’s news. Aside from the zero-tolerance stance that the Raiders have against domestic violence, Gruden has his QB, the one who he point blank told, “I want you.”
“Marquette King, you’re fired”
(Paraphrased, of course)
News dropped March 30 that the Raiders released all-pro punter Marquette King. Raider Nation was in an uproar. Why would the brass get rid of such a talent? And in this manner:
Marquette King went over to the Raiders' facility today to meet some of the coaches. Never got the chance. GM Reggie McKenzie pulled him in, spoke to him and, in the end, informed King he was being released.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 30, 2018
This one is pretty simple. Gruden is no-nonsense. He doesn’t tolerate divas. (Hint: Crabtree). King’s on-the-field antics have cost this team yardage and penalties, and his off-the-field behavior has been questionable to his teammates and the fans. Gruden wants players that are all in and are willing to do what it takes to be a cohesive enough unit to win a championship or two. King is a great punter, one of the best in the game, but he is not shy about who he is and his personality is not one that will mesh with Gruden’s style. That’s something that the organization sees and made the decision that it wouldn’t enmesh easily with the new “Gruden culture”.
There were whispers of King’s personality not clicking with Gruden’s. I should have listened better. Coach didn’t want to spend a lot of money on punter who gets personal fouls. #Raiders
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) March 30, 2018
Don’t expect to see a kindler, gentler Jon, especially after seeing how this offseason is going so far. He has a goal in mind, and he’s building the picture of his perfect beast. After a long hiatus from the field, Chucky’s old and crotchety ways have just gotten more pronounced. “Get off my lawn” may very well be stenciled somewhere on his gear.