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’

Editor's note: Raiders Insider Scott Bair is in Minneapolis all week long covering Super Bowl festivities -- check out Scott's archive as he files stories and podcasts leading up to the big game on Sunday  

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.’"

Raiders confirm Greg Papa out as team's radio voice after two decades


Raiders confirm Greg Papa out as team's radio voice after two decades

The Raiders made it official Thursday. Legendary broadcaster Greg Papa, who also serves as an analyst for NBC Sports Bay Area, no longer will be the radio voice of the team.

[RAY RATTO: Raiders' exit feels much more imminent after reported broadcaster swap]

Raiders owner Mark Davis made the following statement Thursday: 

The Raiders organization would like to thank Greg Papa for his two decades of service to the Silver and Black.. He wasn’t just given the job.. He earned it.. With intense preparation Greg was always ready for the call.. Just as my generation remembers Bill King and “Holy Toledo”.. The Raider Nation will remember Greg Papa and “Touchdown Raiders”.. We wish Greg and his family the best in whatever the future brings..
-Mark Davis-

Brent Musburger reportedly will replace Papa in the booth. That hasn't been made official, however. 

Five new Raiders with something to prove in 2018 season


Five new Raiders with something to prove in 2018 season

The Raiders are taking some time off during the dead period of the NFL offseason. Even early bird Jon Gruden is slapping the snooze button these days, spending some quality time with family before training camp cranks up later this month.

Coaches and players are still finding time for work, sometimes while they’re on vacation. The Raiders want to hit the ground running this preseason, with many motivated to show well in silver and black. That’s especially true for a large class of new Raiders, many of whom hope to silence detractors.

Here are five newcomers with plenty to prove in 2018:

5. CB Rashaan Melvin

Lists like this are normally reserved for guys coming off injuries or down years. Melvin doesn’t fit that mold. The 28-year old had his best year in 2017, often shutting down top receivers as Indy’s top cornerback. He allowed a paltry 60.3 passer rating when targeted, with three picks, 10 passes defensed and just two touchdowns allowed.

Those stats didn’t produce a robust free-agent market. Melvin ended up signing a one-year, $5.5 million deal with Oakland, and is now working to show he’s not a one-year wonder and can stay healthy for 16 games. An ovation-worthy encore would surely earn a long-term, bigger-money deal.

Melvin made his motivation clear on Twitter a few weeks back.

4. WR Jordy Nelson

Nelson had a down year in 2017. It started well, with six touchdowns in the first four games he played. Then all-world Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down, and things hit the skids. He averaged just 9.1 yards per reception, and didn’t score after that early flurry.

That led some to say Nelson lost a step at age 32 he would not recover. The Packers asked him to take a massive pay cut, and ended up releasing him in March. The Raiders swooped in quickly with a two-year deal and plenty of guaranteed money.

Nelson has been praised for his attention to detail and position-group leadership, and will fit into the starting lineup with Amari Cooper and Martavis Bryant. He had four straight 1,000-yard seasons prior to last year. His worth won’t be defined by a monster statistical year. Reliability, leadership and red-zone performance will show if Nelson’s still got it.

3. RB Doug Martin

The veteran rusher has had an uneven career. Excellent production has come in spurts, with dominance in 2012 and 2015. The last 1,400-plus yard season was followed by two seasons of 2.9 yards per carry, which led Tampa Bay to cut his this winter.

He met Gruden for lunch at a Florida golf course, and the exchange convinced Gruden the 29-year old was ready to work and prove he had plenty left in the tank. His work was praised during the offseason program, though practice in pads and preseason play will offer stronger evidence of 2018 effectiveness. Showing well in camp could lead to an increased role behind starter Marshawn Lynch. Gruden likes using multiple backs in his offense, and could make steady contributions in the run game.

2. MLB Derrick Johnson

The longtime Kansas City Chief was let go by the team that drafted him in 2005, but it was not the end of his NFL journey. Some thought he’d call it a career at age 35, especially after suffering an Achilles’ tendon tear in Dec. 2016, but he found a new home in Oakland and a strong bond with Gruden. The Raiders need stability in the middle, and Johnson will provide on-field leadership. There’s no doubt about that.

Johnson must prove capable of being a three-down linebacker effective against the run and pass. Marquel Lee is available should the Raiders require a platoon, but Johnson doesn’t want that. The Raiders need his expertise inside at all times.

1. Head coach Jon Gruden

Gruden isn’t a newcomer, but it’s been nearly two decades since he roamed the silver and black sidelines. He hasn’t coached since 2008, but returned to the Raiders in January after nine years in the broadcast booth.

Gruden has said several times he has something to prove to his critics. That might be a self-motivational tool. There aren’t many in the East Bay, where the fan base as rallied behind him and players have loved the intensity and passion he brings to practice and meetings.

Some assume his old school tendencies and his “bringing it back to 1998” comment this offseason implies he is resistant to change or offensive innovation. That’s not the case, not by a long shot. We’ll see lots modern offense Gruden studied as an ESPN broadcaster and in his downtime at his Tampa offices, with new wrinkles unveiled as game plans dictate.

Gruden has made a solid impression in his return to coaching but, as it always is in his line of work, effectiveness will be determined by wins and losses. He won’t be graded off one-year alone, especially without solid roster depth, but Gruden wants to start fast and re-establish Raiders winning ways.