Collinsworth: Gruden’s time in broadcast booth will give Raiders ‘a big edge’


Collinsworth: Gruden’s time in broadcast booth will give Raiders ‘a big edge’

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- Chris Collinsworth takes a ton from NFL production meetings. Broadcast partners get amazing access to players and coaches, who often divulge more than they’d offer publicly to help enhance a broadcast.

NBC’s lead color analyst takes something from each interaction, which enhances his knowledge of the game, its players and trends.

“Jon Gruden made a comment that I thought got dismissed a little bit when he said, ‘you don’t know what an advantage I’ve gained by being a broadcaster,’” Collinsworth said on Tuesday. “You watch all these teams practice, and you talk to them about their organization, their structure and their approach to free agency and getting insights into what they’re doing. Then you multiply that. I think I’ve been to 27 of the 32 NFL teams this year.”

Some may postulate whether Gruden’s nine years in the broadcast booth is a help or hindrance, but Collinsworth believes the new Raiders head coach will have an ace in his sleeve.

Gruden has been to the puppet show and seen the strings. That will bridge the gap between his time coaching and a more modern age.

“I know Jon has seen so much,” Collinsworth said. “I know that I have. I think it’ll give him a big edge.”

It will also scratch an itch. Gruden said his return to coaching was less about the $100 million contract than it was about a competitive high.

“I know him well enough to know that competition is what it’s about for him,” Collinsworth said. “There is no competition in broadcasting...We all want to be better than the next guy, but there is no standard for that. You don’t get that ultimate feeling (of a win).

“As you get older, you think about the most exciting things that happen in life. When you compare (broadcasting) to playing or coaching in the Super Bowl, there’s nothing that will compare to that…Once you’ve tasted that bit of magic, right? You can go make money. He could’ve lived forever on what he was making on Monday Night Football, and being happy on his boat, drinking beer and having a great time. But you don’t get that moment again. You just don’t.”

Gruden will have more competitive moments, and plenty of them. He’s working on a 10-year deal, and will surely coach a considerable stretch whether or not he sees the end of that deal. People have dialed up clips of Gruden’s well-crafted offense, but a new Raiders scheme won’t be a replica. That’s due to his time studying the NFL and its innovations.

“I’ve gotten to see every facility in the league,” Gruden said at his introductory press conference. “I’ve had a chance to watch practices and see how they conduct training camps. I’ve had the chance to learn and see some things that I’ve never gotten to see as a coach. I’ve had a chance to study different offenses, different defenses, and the chance to get into personnel more. I think I’m more big picture now than what I was in the past, but I still want to be very detailed in terms of how we play offense. I still want to be very involved with how we move the football. I have had some unique and beneficial opportunities as a broadcaster.”

Collinsworth isn’t going to be a coach anytime soon, but understands the value of inside information. He also understands the drive to return to competitive football.

“In some ways, it’s a bit humbling to be a broadcaster,” Collinsworth said. “No matter how you look at it, you’re an outsider. You get close and you know guys pretty well, but it’s humbling to be outside the game instead of inside the game trying beating somebody’s butt. I know that’s what happened to Jon. It tugs at me all the time, too. No matter what we do in a broadcast, nobody’s keeping score...There’s nothing like driving home at the end of the day and thinking, either ‘we won’ or ‘we lost.’"

Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?


Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?

Jon Gruden doesn’t love offseason restrictions on player-coach interaction. They weren’t so strict when Gruden last coached nine years ago, but the new collective bargaining agreement prevents the new Raiders head coach from extended contact with his players at this stage in the NFL’s downtime.

He has, however, run into several Raiders stopping by the team’s Alameda complex.

Count running back Marshawn Lynch and receiver Michael Crabtree among them. Conversations with those talented, yet mercurial players will be key as Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie decide how best to use the salary cap.

Both guys have a long history of NFL production. Both guys are getting up there in age, and have some drawbacks. Both guys can be cut without a salary cap hit.

Gruden had nice things to say about both guys in a Wednesday interview with the Bay Area News Group.

He was asked directly if Lynch will be on the 2018 roster.

“I don’t know,” Gruden said. “I bumped into him. Some of these players that live locally do come to the facility to get a workout, see the trainer. I’ve been downstairs and met several guys. I have talked to Marshawn briefly. We’ll see. We’ll keep everybody posted. Right now, he’s our leading ball carrier. 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.”

Lynch started slow but finished strong, and was the team’s best skill player in the season’s second half. He’s contracted to make up to $6 million in 2018.

Crabtree came up later in a discussion of what he likes on the roster.

“I got to bump into Crabtree,” Gruden said. “Hopefully we can get the best out of Crabtree and his career.”

Crabtree is coming off a down year following two stellar seasons in Oakland. He had just 58 catches for 618 yards – he still had eight touchdowns – but his targets and snaps decreased the last two weeks. He seemed at odds with the previous coaching staff, a group that was dismissed at season’s end.

Crabtree is set to make $7 million next season, though none of it is guaranteed.

Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders


Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders

PALO ALTO – Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie became a father on Super Bowl Sunday. Newborn son Elijah Carrie has been the sole focus these last few weeks, as T.J. learns on the job how to be a dad.

Pardon him if he hasn’t thought much about impending free agency. The 2014 seventh-round pick turned full-time starter has a rookie deal expiring soon, with a raise on the horizon following his best season as a pro.

That’ll come in March. Early February, however, has kept him otherwise engaged.

“I’ve been so busy with my little one, and I haven’t been getting any sleep,” Carrie said Thursday. “Learning how to be a dad has been so engulfing that I haven’t delved into the details of what free agency will mean to me.”

Soul searching wasn’t required to realize his dream scenario. The East Bay native wants to stay in Oakland, with a Raiders team he loved as a kid.

“My intention is to be here,” Carrie said. “I’m a Bay Area guy, a hometown kid. I couldn’t see myself being anywhere else. This is a passion for me. I dreamed about playing for the Raiders for such a long time. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to play there for four years, I want to finish (with the Raiders).”

Carrie wants to work with a new Raiders regime. He visited the team’s Alameda complex on Wednesday and met with new head coach Jon Gruden and defensive assistants. The interaction left Carrie wanting more, furthering his belief that be belongs in Silver and Black.

“Coach Gruden is very energetic,” Carrie said. “He’s a coach that likes to have fun but it a very business oriented guy. There are a lot of things, I imagine, that are going to change, just from the way he has done things. It’s going to be different, but I embrace it. It’ll be very challenging entering into a new regime, but there are a lot of positive factors involved with it.”

The Raiders don’t have many cornerbacks under contract come mid-March. They released David Amerson, and could do the same with Sean Smith later this offseason. Gareon Conley should start at one spot, but everything else is wide-open entering free agency and the draft.

Carrie could find value on the open market after recording 70 tackles and nine passes defensed in 16 starts. He’ll explore his options further next month, before free agency begins in earnest March 14.

“I know March is really when it starts to go down,” Carrie said. “My son will be a little older then, so I can focus more on free agency and make some more decisions.”