After long break, can Gruden channel Vermeil, Carroll?

After long break, can Gruden channel Vermeil, Carroll?

Jon Gruden spent nine seasons in ESPN’s employ, working primarily as Monday Night Football’s color analyst.

That chapter is coming to a close. Saturday’s AFC playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans serves as his swan song, before becoming the next Raiders head coach.

He’s expected to sign a 10-year contract and be formally introduced in a Tuesday press conference.

Gruden’s coming back to coaching after a nine-year hiatus. That’s a long time between gigs, but Gruden hasn’t spent that space away sipping Coronas on a white-sand beach. He’s been immersed in NFL football, thanks to a broadcasting job and an ever-present coaching itch.

He’ll re-join a league with different practice policies and ever-evolving schematics, but should hit the ground running.

"Just about every year I talk about coming back to coach,” Gruden told Buccaneers blog in July. “I'm not in here every day at 4:30 or 4:00 in the morning watching pinball, you know? I'm preparing myself to come back. I am. Every day. I'm preparing to come back."

A total of five men have returned as head coaches after such a long break. The results have been mixed. The Raiders fell victim to one such decision, hiring Art Shell to coach the 2006 season. That Silver and Black squad, which didn’t have much talent and featured Andrew Walter and Aaron Brooks at quarterback, went 2-14.

Pete Carroll has been excellent since returning to the pro ranks, and Dick Vermeil stands as an example of someone who succeeded after returning from the broadcast booth.

Many have tried to lure Gruden back to coaching after cushy jobs in broadcast media – Bill Cowher and Tony Dungy have been other popular targets – but Gruden finally decided to return to an Oakland Raiders team he coached from 1998-2001.

Here’s a list of head coaches in the last 25 years who returned to the position after at least a nine-year break, according to NFL Research, and how they fared:

Pete Carroll (returned in 2010)
Years away:
Job away from NFL: USC head coach
Returned to coach: Seattle
Record after return: 79-48 (still coaching)
Accomplishments after return: Super Bowl XLVIII champion, 2 NFL championships (2013, 2014)

Chan Gailey (returned in 2010)
Years away:
Job away from NFL: Miami offensive coordinator (2000-01), Georgia Tech head coach (2002-07), Kansas City offensive coordinator (2008)
Returned to coach: Buffalo
Record after return: 16-32
Accomplishments after return: No division titles, postseason qualifications

Art Shell (returned in 2006)
Years away:
Job away from NFL: Kansas City OL coach (1995-96), Atlanta OL coach (1997-2000), NFL senior VP in football operations
Returned to coach: Oakland
Record after return: 2-14
Accomplishments after return: Last place finish in one season

Joe Gibbs (returned in 2004)
Years away:
Job away from NFL: Owner of Job Gibbs Racing (NASCAR team)
Returned to coach: Washington
Record after return: 30-34
Accomplishments after return: NFL wild card qualifier (2005, 2007), 1-2 playoff record

Dick Vermeil (returned in 1997)
Years away:
Job away from NFL: Football color analyst for ABC, NBC
Returned to coach: St. Louis (1997-99), Kansas City (2001-2005)
Record after return: 66-62
Accomplishments after return: Super Bowl XXXIV champion (St. Louis), 2003 AFC West champion (Kansas City)

Reports: Marshawn Lynch to remain with Raiders in 2018


Reports: Marshawn Lynch to remain with Raiders in 2018

The Raiders signed veteran running back Doug Martin on Thursday, prompting many to believe the move meant the end of Marshawn Lynch's time in Oakland.

But as it has been expected, Martin is just another piece to go along with Lynch in the Raiders' backfield. According to multiple national reports, Lynch will remain in Silver and Black this upcoming season. 

The news will become official when the Raiders pay Lynch his $1 million roster bonus on Sunday. 

“One of the reasons I’m excited to be with the Raiders is to join forces with Lynch. We’ll see what happens," Jon Gruden told Insider Scott Bair at the NFL Scouting Combine. “We have to take a look at the entire roster, but I’m counting on him. I’m counting on him being a big part of this football team.”

Lynch, 31, rushed for 891 yards, averaging 4.3 yards per carry, and scored seven touchdowns for the Raiders in 2017. 

New Raiders cornerback supremely confident, 'here to dominate the league'


New Raiders cornerback supremely confident, 'here to dominate the league'

Rashaan Melvin has the supreme confidence of a No. 1 cornerback, with none of the pedigree. Top cover men are often drafted high, paid well or both, with a steady ascent to elite status.

This undrafted talent bounced around the league without job security, trying and often failing to find NFL footing.

Melvin spent time with Tampa Bay, Miami, Baltimore, New England and Miami again before establishing himself in Indianapolis. The Colts gave him a real shot and he took advantage, evolving into the team’s top cornerback. Last year was Melvin’s best, but it didn’t provide a long-term contract despite a bull market for cover men.

Melvin signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Raiders on Friday, the type of prove-it deal that could establish a big payday down this time next year. The 28-year old doesn’t consider that pressure. Melvin knowns another big year's on the way, one that proves he's an elite cornerback

"I’m here to dominate the league," Melvin said Friday in a conference call. "It might be time for some new faces at the cornerback position. That’s my take on that. I’m excited for it.”

Melvin wouldn’t trade his long road for a conventional path, and believes experience both good and bad has prepared him for a pivotal season.

“I’ve been cut four times,” Melvin said. “I’ve been in four different locker rooms, and I was able to gain my teammates’ trust, my coaches’ trust and the organization’s trust as well. My confidence just grows over time. There are not a lot of players that can say they’ve been cut four times and end up in a situation where I’m at today. Like I said, it’s perfect timing. My work ethic, my style of play and the way I approach the game and the way I approach my job, my business, it speaks for itself.”

Melvin’s work ethic is unquestioned. His reputation as a grinder is well documented, especially after establishing himself in Indianapolis. Commitment to a craft has created a player with consistent coverage and ball skills.

Melvin was excellent last year. According to Pro Football Focus, Melvin created an incomplete pass (combining passes defensed and interceptions) on 23.6 percent of his targets.

Passers had a 60.3 passer rating against him in 2017, with just 29 completions for 328 yards on 55 targets. The passer rating was 86.6 in 2016, his only other season as a regular starter.

The Raiders need that type of player on the outside. They’ve had inconsistent cornerback play (that’s being kind) in recent seasons, and are hoping Melvin provides stability at a key position. The Northern Illinois alum has loftier aspirations, individually and as the leader of a young position group.

“The goal is to be the best player I can be, first-team All-Pro,” Melvin said. “I’m going to show my leadership, help these young guys out this year. They have tons of potential to be successful in their own careers. For me coming in here and being the leader and showing that, hey, this is what it takes to be successful in this football league, that’s what I’m willing to do. That’s what I’m willing to bring to the table. On the football field, but outside as well.”

Paying $6.5 million for all that would be a bargain. Melvin’s the key acquisition in a secondary built around 2016 first-round safety Karl Joseph and 2017 first-round cornerback Gareon Conley. This secondary can be solid if those guys can realize potential and Melvin’s a true No. 1 cornerback.

He considers that title appropriate, and is ready to show he’s more that a one-year wonder. The Raiders have great confidence in Melvin, something clear after targeting him early in the free-agent process. Financing’s always a big factor, but Friday’s meeting with head coach Jon Gruden, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and secondary coach Derrick Ansley convinced Melvin that Oakland’s a proper fit.

“I can relate to these guys,” Melvin said. “They have big plans for me, big plans for the organization. I was born to be a part of something special; that’s happening in Oakland. It was a good thing. We were able to get everything done, a deal done. I’m just excited to be here and I’m excited to see what the future holds for us as a team and me as a player.”