Jon Gruden sat down with the Mercury News in what was his first interview since being hired for a second stint as Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders. Here is what we learned from his interview.
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden sat down with The Mercury News today for his first interview sense his introductory press conference. He had some interesting quotes that could give us some insight into his plans with the roster as well as his planned scheme. Let’s take a look at some of the most notable parts of his interview and see what we might have learned.
I think the biggest thing is the collective bargaining agreement. You’re not allowed to be with your players. Some genius thought that would be great, that we’re not even allowed to talk to our players. So that’s been a big challenge.
Gruden made it clear in this interview that he was not a fan of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. One of the biggest question marks that came with hiring a coach who had not been on a sideline for over a decade was how he would adjust to the restrictions of the new CBA. It is apparent that he is making those adjustments however begrudgingly. Not being able to communicate and really get to know his players sounded like the source of his frustrations.
I’ve had people call me to tell me that Marshawn Lynch didn’t show up to a meeting that we had. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff out there that’s being written that’s not even true.
The reports of running back Marshawn Lynch missing a scheduled meeting with Gruden have been laid to rest. In fact it sounds like Lynch has a good shot of returning this season.
I have talked to Marshawn briefly. We’ll see. We’ll keep everybody posted. Right now, he’s our leading ballcarrier. He’s our back, and we’re counting on him. Hopefully we get an opportunity to work together. that’s a man that has a lot of respect in this league as a player and I certainly have respect for him also.
Many fans were disappointed to see offensive line coach Tom Cable hired because it means the team will continue running a zone blocking scheme. There is a glimmer of hope that the offense will return to the gap running scheme that helped propel them to their playoff appearance in 2016.
I think Cable’s background is one of the outside zone, the inside zone, but he’s also a very versatile coach. He’s proven that. He can run gap schemes. He’s going to run what we’re good at running. If we have a good back, and some good linemen and a tight end and a fullback, we’ll have a good running game with Tom Cable. But we’ve got to get the components in place so he can be all he can be. That’s something we’re working on right now. He’s a versatile coach, certainly he’s an expert in the zone scheme and I’m excited about that, but there’s a lot of ways he’s run the ball in his background.
Gruden is clearly impressed with the interior of the offensive line. This could again lead to more power based running. Offensive linemen prefer to hit defenders, and hopefully they get the opportunities.
I think we’ve got a great young quarterback. I think that’s enough to be excited about. I think a lot of our center. I think the quarteback-center (Rodney Hudson) battery is as good as I’ve ever had in football. I’m really excited about the two guards (Kelechi Osemele, Gabe Jackson), obviously. That’s the strength of this team.
While drafting a wide receiver will happen at some point in the draft, don’t expect the team to sign any high priced free agents at the position. Gruden made it sound like receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree would be the go-to wide outs.
I think the excitement around working with Amari Cooper is just certainly pretty cool. I got to bump into Crabtree. Hopefully we can get the best out of Crabtree and his career.
With free agency not officially starting until March 14th, it will be a month before we really get to see what Gruden and his staff have planned for the roster. Some of his quotes may have given a glimpse into his thinking but plans can always change as unexpected players become available or cap space starts running tight. Whatever happens it will be an interesting offseason as Gruden begins reshaping this roster.