Broadcast partner reveals how he eased Gruden's concerns over leaving booth

Broadcast partner reveals how he eased Gruden's concerns over leaving booth

For the last two seasons, Sean McDonough worked alongside Jon Gruden as ESPN's Monday Night Football broadcast team.

As he was deciding whether to accept Mark Davis' offer to take the Raiders' job, Gruden leaned on McDonough for advice.

During a podcast with ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Wednesday, McDonough discussed when he felt he knew Gruden would go back to coaching and pulled back the curtain on his conversations with Gruden as he wrestled with the decision to leave the booth for the sideline.

"What I thought from the very beginning was, this guy’s passion is coaching. So I fully anticipated from Day 1, he’s gonna go back eventually. It’s just a matter of when. And I think now is the right time. I think the Raiders have a special place in his heart. The Raiders never really left his heart. Anytime you get traded, or fired by somebody and they want to bring you back almost acknowledging that they made a mistake, that feels good. I think that was a part of it that was appealing to Jon," McDonough said.

Gruden last coached in 2008 with the Tampa Bay Bucs. If he didn't jump at this opportunity, McDonough explained, their might not be better chance.

"He has three boys, the youngest is going to be out of high school at the end of next year. He’s now in his mid-50’s, he’s been out for nine years. At a certain point, if you’re going to go back, you need to go back while you’re still young. He’s a youthful, vibrant, energetic 54-year-old. To be totally serious about it, $100 million is pretty enticing too. I think the money, the proverbial offer you can’t refuse," McDonough said.

It's the worst kept secret that Raiders owner Mark Davis chased Gruden for six years. Whenever Davis made the offer, Gruden always turned him down or didn't respond. While Gruden finally accepted it this time, McDonough revealed that the new Raiders head coach did have reservations about making the gigantic leap.

"A couple times over the weekend in Kansas City, he had mixed emotions and he was quite emotional with our crew and he said a couple times ‘I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing,’ and it wasn’t that he was concerned about going back to the Raiders, I just think it was the entire change in his family life and having to move and leaving a job in Monday Night Football that he really enjoyed and that’s easier to do than being a coach. You know, it’s a much tougher grind, coaching, even as much effort you put into the broadcast. As we all know, it’s a much different animal when you’re coaching in the NFL. He said to me, ‘I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing,’ and I said, ‘well, let’s weigh the positives and negatives,’ which is usually how I like to make decisions in my life. I said ‘you’ve got 100 million reasons over here, so there better be a heck of a lot of negatives on the other side to prevent you from saying no to the Raiders.' " McDonough said.

Gruden was introduced by the Raiders on Tuesday during a large press conference that featured a plethera of former players. The deal that Gruden finally accepted is believed to be a 10-year, $100 million contract, the largest in NFL history for a coach.

Raiders 2018 schedule released: Analysis and predictions

Raiders 2018 schedule released: Analysis and predictions

Monday, Sept. 10 vs. Los Angeles Rams, 7:20 p.m.

Jon Gruden goes head-to-head against protégé Sean McVay in primetime, in the season opener and on a Monday Night Football telecast Gruden was on for nine seasons. That's must-see TV. 

Prediction: L.

Sunday, Sept. 16, at Denver, 1:25 p.m.

The Broncos might be the AFC West’s worst team. The Raiders have to make hay a mile up, a chore made easier with an early-season game. They avoid snow this year. 

Prediction: W.

Sunday, Sept. 23, at Miami, 10:00 a.m.

The Raiders beat the Dolphins in Florida last year. It’s hard to say Miami’s much better than they were a year ago. This road win’s attainable, even in the first of four morning kickoffs.

Prediction: W.

Sunday, Sept. 30, vs. Cleveland, 1:05 p.m.

The Browns should be better, but that remains a game you’ve got to win. Hue Jackson’s return to Oakland adds intrigue to these proceedings.

Prediction: W.

Sunday, Oct. 7, at L.A. Chargers, 1:05 p.m.

The Raiders will have a huge home-field advantage in Carson, as they do each time they play the Chargers in Southern California. That should help against a formidable opponent that has had trouble staying healthy in recent years.

Prediction: L.

Sunday, Oct. 14, vs. Seattle (at London’s Tottenham Stadium), 10:00 a.m.
The Raiders won’t make their combine their London trip with an East Coast game to make things easier from a travel perspective. Gruden doesn’t want to be away from home that long. How the Raiders handle a long flight to the United Kingdom will go a long way in determining a victor.

Prediction: W.


Sunday, Oct. 28, vs. Indianapolis, 1:05 p.m.

The Colts still stink, even if Andrew Luck is back healthy and throwing for this one. These are games (especially at home) the Raiders have to win.

Prediction: W.

Thursday, Nov. 1, at 49ers, 5:20 p.m.
A Thursday night game offers plenty of time to get primed in the parking lot. It also guarantees a traffic mess heading into Levi’s Stadium. What could possibly go wrong? This should be a good matchup on the field, with two young quarterbacks leading the charge.

Prediction: L.

Sunday, Nov. 11, vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 1:05 p.m.

The Raiders have lost two of their last three home games to the Chargers. They have to handle business at home, even against a talented squad led by Philip Rivers and Joey Bosa.

Prediction: W.

Sunday, Nov. 18, at Arizona, 1:05 p.m.

The Cardinals are mired in a rebuilding mode, well behind the Raiders at this stage.

Prediction: W.

Sunday, Nov. 25, at Baltimore, 10:00 a.m.

Michael Crabtree will be supremely motivated for this one, after the Raiders essentially exchanged him for Jordy Nelson. He’s pretty dangerous in those situations.

Prediction: L.

Sunday, Dec. 2, vs. Kansas City, 1:05 p.m.

The Chiefs will be a great litmus test, to see if the Raiders can handle big-play threats better than they have in recent seasons.

Prediction: L.

Sunday, Dec. 9, vs. Pittsburgh, 5:20 p.m.

The Raiders defense better be ready to go against Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and the Steelers scoring machine in the Oakland Coliseum slate’s best matchup. To make matters better, this one's in primetime, on Sunday night. 

Prediction: L.

Sunday, Dec. 16, at Cincinnati, 10:00 a.m.

Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will go up against the team he helped run recently. Guenther should be an expert on stopping Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense. That will help the Raiders here. 

Prediction: W.

Monday, Dec. 24, vs. Denver, 5:15 p.m.

Marquette King’s coming back to Oakland. He’s looking forward to this one. So is Bruce Irvin. All this plays out on Monday Night Football, the Raiders' fourth primetime game and third at Oakland Coliseum. 

Prediction: W.

Sunday, Dec. 30,at Kansas City, 10:00 a.m.

Arrowhead Stadium has been a house of horrors for the Raiders in recent seasons. Jack Del Rio could never figure how to play well there. Can Jon Gruden buck that trend?

Prediction: L.

An early quarterback run will help Raiders in this NFL Draft

An early quarterback run will help Raiders in this NFL Draft

This NFL Draft should be interesting at the top. Quarterbacks should dominate early proceedings, with teams ready to select as many as four passers in the top 10.

That would suit the Raiders just fine. Derek Carr’s their franchise quarterback. They don’t need another one.

Many other teams do, meaning Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen could all be taken quickly.

“That will really reshape the draft, particularly if there's a run on quarterbacks very, very early in the draft like many of us expect,” NFL Network analyst and former Raiders cornerback Bucky Brooks said in a conference call. “…I think the fascination for me will be what do teams do to put themselves in a position to get a quarterback, what blue chip players find themselves in a bit of a free-fall because these quarterbacks come off the board.”

The Raiders obviously aren’t considering a quarterback at the top. They’ll likely get one of, if not the best players at his position falling farther than they would in a normal year.

We’ve gone over possible selections at No. 10 overall. If you missed it, check it out here.

Quality abounds in that group, with top players at key positions of need. That includes linebacker, defensive tackle and defensive back (and maybe edge rusher) at that spot.

While having four quarterbacks go before the Raiders picks shoves top players down to No. 10, leaving one on the market would make that selection incredibly valuable.

The Raiders could offer that pick to a quarterback starved team willing to trade up to get their passer of the present and future. We’ve outlined candidates for the Raiders should they trade down in the first round, and carry on with extra selections.

The Raiders have 11 as it stands, with one pick in the first four rounds, two in the fifth, four in the sixth and another in the seventh. That’s plenty to package and trade up to land a coveted player in this draft.

The Raiders aim to get the most value from the No. 10 pick, either with an elite draft prospect or the bounty that comes from trading it. One catch: The 49ers could be thinking the same thing at No. 9, a spot earned with a tiebreaking coin flip at the NFL Scouting Combine. They also have similar needs, though they aren’t exactly the same, but should deter the Raiders too much from getting the player or trade they covet.

That’s due to the top-flight quarterbacks they have no intention of drafting.