NAPA – The Raiders quarterbacks have cameras on their helmets. They have cameras on cornerbacks and strong safeties. Players wear monitors that track their pulse, workload, speed and distance run. Everything from passes to punts get tracked and logged and analyzed by this team and most others across the NFL.
The team has video boards on the practice field, so players can watch reps live or in replay form.
The Raiders are a modern operation. Head coach Jon Gruden, however, is a mix of new and old school.
That’s why, every now and then, he unearths some blasts from the past.
“He’s bringing up film from like 1976 when you didn’t even think they had film,” tight end Jared Cook said. “Like grainy film where you can barely see the players. He has that knowledge. He’s been watching football since he was a kid and he’s been in the league since he was a kid. Everything that you’re seeing and everything he’s teaching you is things from his background, not only current background but pre-dates 1987 which is when I was born.”
Gruden reached into the archives for a reason. Old game tape is a teaching tool in terms of schematics and creating an appreciation for those that played before.
“I’m just trying to make some points,” Gruden said. “There were some guys that played the game that were pretty good. I think they love it. They love seeing Barry Sanders. I think they love seeing Joe Montana in the two-minute drill. I had a couple of young guys get up there, they didn’t know who Jack Tatum was. They didn’t know who Art Shell was. Part of that is having a respect for the league that you’re in and the guys that came before you.
“You try to accomplish a lot. You only have them for so long. You try to keep their attention span. Then all of a sudden, man, there’s Dan Marino. Man, I didn’t know he had that quick of a release. Geez, he was pretty good. A lot of these guys never heard of Mark Cooper or Mark Clayton. I think they like it. You can make some points, show some great routes and also teach them a little bit about the people that came before you.”
Gruden’s offense sprouted from something before it, and it continues to evolve into this modern era. He gets teased about his comment saying he’ll take the game back to 1998 -- he won’t; that was a bit overblown – or liking an old remote control over a new one.
He’s firmly planted in this age, but acts as a bridge to a bygone era where some quality football was played.
“You know [Tom] Landry and [Bill] Walsh and Chuck Noll weren’t bad coaches,” Gruden said. “They did some good things. They did some good things from a fundamental drill standpoint, too. Showing guys the drills that Jerry Rice did. Showing them how Roger Craig practiced. Those can be great teaching moments. Look, we’re not running a 1964 operation here. But there are some things that happened in 1964 that were pretty damn good. If you don’t think so, go ahead and have a nice day.”