If he takes the job, Gruden really only has two years to turn Raiders around

If he takes the job, Gruden really only has two years to turn Raiders around

There have been an even 100 coaching regimes in the National Football League since Jon Gruden was fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – nine seasons, many of them dominated by one team and one coach.

Yep. Them, and Him. The Patriots, and The Belichick.

But if Gruden really is the next Oakland Raiders coach – if Mark Davis can pay him enough money and non-voting stock and give him enough power to reassemble what he helped create 15 years ago – he will have a very difficult act to follow.

Himself. Worse, the idealized version of himself.

You see, Gruden at 54 is not the same as Jon Gruden at 45. Nobody is. When he left coaching at the behest of Malcolm Glazer's billionaire shoe, he was expected to be part of the NFL’s retread wheel. He was a hero for having battled Al Davis, then besting him In Super Bowl XXXVII, and his subsequent years in Tampa were essentially glossed over by his expressive face, his gift for public imagery and a largely fruitless search for a quarterback after Brad Johnson.

He found what seemed to be pressure-free bliss in the television booth, playing at quarterback whispering, listening to flirtations from a series of college teams and in general being remembered for his glory days in Oakland, his one Super Bowl and being the current generation’s version of John Madden.

In short, Gruden creates short-term excitement. But that was the reason the Raiders hired Jack Del Rio, and the truth is that, over time, deeds trump words. And the Raiders don’t have a lot of time if the deadline is giving Oakland a going-away parade.

If Gruden is heading back to the trenches, it is for a much different team in fairly bizarre circumstances, working for the son of the father with whom he played swords and shields. He has a quarterback whose confidence in himself and his teammates must be rebuilt (and, in truth, vice versa), a defense in ongoing tatters, a fan base doubly disillusioned and the spotty history of coaches who have sat out a long time between gigs.

Joe Gibbs went 12 years between jobs in Washington and went 30-34 the second time. Dick Vermeil burned himself out, went boothside for 15 years, and then came back to St. Louis for two building years, a Super Bowl in the third, another year off and then four up-and-down seasons in Kansas City. Pete Carroll went back to college for 11 years after flaming out in New York and Boston and then recreated his aura in Seattle. Art Shell was brought back by a desperate Al Davis after 12 years in Los Angeles for one disastrous year in Oakland.

But they don’t represent a large enough sample size to make any conclusions about Gruden The Raider. He would inherit an intriguing but disappointing offense, a defense that has few weapons and much filler, and a front office of his own construction (he’s not coming for less; working in television and being devoted to Mark Davis hasn’t enfeebled him).

And to win Oakland over, he would have to turn all of this around in two years. The move to Las Vegas which wasn’t mentioned much in 2016 when the team won 12 games has moved to the forefront of dissatisfaction after winning six. Raider fans have been largely misused in the 23 years back in the Bay Area, and Gruden is the one agreed-upon bright spot.

But if Gruden does finish the work in three years rather than two, these fans will remember that the victory they thought could be theirs a year ago will belong to someone else, much as the people of Quebec City were wounded by the Stanley Cup won by the Colorado Avalanche the year after they left Canada.

In sum, this lost season was a dagger for Del Rio but maybe a fragmentation grenade for Mark Davis’ hopes of leaving Oakland a hero. If he even cares about that any more.

Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'


Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'

Jon Gruden has been interviewed several times since becoming Raiders head coach. Quarterback Derek Carr hasn’t listened to most of those sessions, and certainly doesn’t seek them out.

One landed in Carr’s inbox recently, and something Gruden said really resonated.

Gruden’s message, paraphrased: If Derek Carr is not successful, then I’ve failed as a coach.

There are two comments in that one. Gruden considers Carr extremely talented, and he’s taking responsibility for unlocking the quarterback's vast potential.

Gruden will be hands on in Carr’s development, with all the coaching intensity and fire and eyebrow raises that have become Gruden’s signature.

“He’s going to demand of me. He’s going to push me,” Carr said on this week’s episode of the Raiders Insider Podcast, which will drop Tuesday morning (Subcribe right here). “He’s going to make me be the best version of myself.”

Carr had a direct answer to skeptics wondering aloud whether he can thrive under Gruden’s particular coaching style.

“I want him to be tough on me,” Carr said. “For anyone who thinks I want him to be a different way has no clue about me or how I play football or how I prepare to play this game. I don’t need to tell stories about how I prepare or manage myself.

“(Jon) and I are going to get along great. I hope that he demands of me. I hope he’s hard on me. I don’t need to know he loves me. He has already told me that about 20 times. I appreciate that and we’ll be friends forever, but I know he’ll be demanding and tell me what I need to do. Let’s go fix problems that I have and let’s do what I need to do to win championships. Hopefully that will give people some insight and hopefully that’s the story that gets out, because that’s the truth.”

Carr met his new head coach briefly before his introductory press conference, but has known Gruden since filming the Gruden QB Camp segment back in 2014. They got along great then, and in each interaction since.

“We have so much more in common that people realize,” Carr said. “I think it would blow some people’s minds. Him and I are very similar in the way we go about our business and how we carry ourselves. It’s an exciting time.”

Carr’s excited to have some stability in his football life. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback will start his fifth NFL season with his fourth head coach, fourth go-round with an offensive coordinator and third offensive scheme. Gruden signed a 10-year contract. OC Greg Olson signed a four-year pact. They’ll be here a while, and Carr’s excited about that.

“It’s going to be really nice,” Carr said. “To know Jon signed on for a 10 years and (Olson) signed on for a long time shows me a couple of things. No. 1: that they believe in me. I don’t think Coach Gruden would’ve quit his day job, which I’m thankful he did. To get (Olson) out of a good spot in L.A (with the Rams), shows that they believe in me and that’s awesome. And, No. 2: I’m going to have two people I can talk to in a different language for years to come. We can grow within the relationship, and hopefully we’ll all ride off together. It’s set up that way right now, and we have a lot of work to do to reach that point.”

Raiders QB Derek Carr named to third straight Pro Bowl


Raiders QB Derek Carr named to third straight Pro Bowl

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is headed to his third consecutive Pro Bowl. He became eligible once New England qualified for the Super Bowl and Tom Brady was out of the running for next week’s NFL all-star game in Orlando.

Carr was the next alternate up, and accepted the invitation to represent the Silver and Black. Khalil Mack, Rodney Hudson, Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn were named to the original roster, though Penn has bowed out with injury.

Carr will join his teammates in Florida for game-week festivities, followed by the inter-conference clash on Sunday at noon at Camping World Stadium. The game can be seen on ABC.

He joins Rich Gannon and Ken Stabler as Raiders quarterbacks with at least three Pro Bowl selections. Carr had a down year relative to his previous two, but still posted standout numbers. He had 3,496 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and an 86.4 passer rating.

The Raiders finished a disappointing 6-10, and head coach Jack Del Rio was fired in favor of Jon Gruden.

“It was not the year we wanted, but to still be recognized by you, Raider Nation and fans everywhere, and the players and coaches you go against is an extremely high honor I will always be thankful for!” Carr wrote in a note posted on Twitter. “Although I am extremely blessed to be thought of in such a way by my peers, I understand there is more work to do. There is more to achieve and more to accomplish and I will now ret until we get there, Raider Nation!”