Raiders’ Gruden sets record straight on taking ‘game back to 1998’

Updated March 26, 2018 - 8:44 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. — Jon Gruden wore a silver watch around his left wrist Monday. He kept a cellphone inside a pocket of his black dress pants. At the corner of the hotel hallway in which he stood, a flat-screen television scrolled through images of the Raiders’ stadium project.

“Opening in 2020,” a sign read. “Las Vegas Stadium.”

The Raiders coach shook his head and then made something clear.

Of course he knows what time it is.

At the NFL combine in late February, Gruden was asked about analytics. A portion of his answer — “Man, I’m trying to throw the game back to 1998” — drew not only chuckles from reporters but questions as to whether Gruden was, so to speak, with current times. He clarified his remark and the front office’s power structure Monday during a conversation at the annual NFL meetings.

Gruden is coaching in the NFL for the first time in a decade. He dismissed the notion he’s either unaware or unwilling to adapt to how the game has evolved.

“We got more analytics than probably any (other) team in the league,” Gruden said. “We have all the gimmicks and gadgets, and we’re going to have a DJ on the practice field. We’re going to throw bubble screens and RPOs (run-pass options). We’re going to have all the statistical data that everybody else has.

“But when I say 1998, I’m going to do this very similar to how I did it then (when first joining the Raiders). We’re going to bring in a lot of free agents that are going to help us send a message, set the tone. We did it (in 1998) with Richard Harvey and Anthony Newman and Elijah Alexander and Eric Allen. We brought in a lot of guys who were pros that love football, that will compete and fight for the Raiders. That’s kinda what I meant, ‘taking it back to 1998.’”

To that end, the Raiders were busy in free agency.

Once the contract of safety Reggie Nelson is finalized, the team will have re-signed four of its unrestricted free agents and added 16 other players this month. Among the Raiders’ earliest moves in free agency, they signed blocking tight end Derek Carrier and fullback Keith Smith. They also re-signed Lee Smith, another tight end whose primary use is as a run blocker.

If some were running with Gruden’s “1998” from February, those March transactions offered a pair of orange slices, a cup of water and a friendly gust of wind at the Mile 10 marker. This is despite the team later trading fullback Jamize Olawale to the Dallas Cowboys days after Keith Smith signed.

“We did re-sign a blocking tight end (Lee Smith) who’s been on the team for three years,” Gruden said. “We did hire a fullback, but we traded our fullback, basically, for this fullback. I’m not going to argue with people. They can type what they want, say what they want, and I’ll be respectful of it. But I know what I’m trying to do.”

And he knows who is making decisions. It’s not one person.

Gruden has a 10-year contract. His three coordinators are under three-year deals. No NFL team offers more newfound stability on its coaching staff than the Raiders. As such, it is only natural the franchise make decisions on an organizational basis, looking to fit talent to schemes.

On Sunday, owner Mark Davis told reporters something to that effect, calling Gruden’s vision “most important (when) building what type of team we’ve got,” he said. “That vision and that direction is going to be helpful to (general manager) Reggie (McKenzie) more so than not. I think they’ll work together very well.”

On Monday, Gruden stressed that final point.

“We’re going to work together,” he said. “Who has that 51 percent, I think, ultimately depends on who is the most right. If Reggie’s right, we’re going to go with Reggie. If we feel I’m right or someone else is right, you don’t have to be the head coach or GM to help get us to make a move or decision. We’re all mature, grown people, and I think I speak for just about every organization that’s here.”

Here in 2018.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Raiders Videos
Vegas Nation Mailbag: How Will Raiders Perform Against Ravens
Raiders will face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday and Review-Journal reporter Gilbert Manzano and Elaine Emerson go over what to expect from the game.
Vegas Nation: LaFell moved to IR, Hatcher returns
The Raiders move wide receiver Brandon LaFell to the injured reserve and re-sign preseason standout Keon Hatcher, as Michael Gehlken reports the corresponding moves from Alameda, Calif.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Beat Cardinals 23-21, Earn Second Win of Season
Raiders Kicker Daniel Carlson hit the game winning field goal as time expires to hand the Raiders their first road win of the Season.
Raiders players talk about the team's win over Cardinals
After the team defeated the Arizona Cardinals, 23-21, the Oakland Raiders players spoke about the victory in the locker room.
Gruden, Carr discuss the Raiders 23-21 win
Head coach Jon Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr speak to media after the Oakland Raiders defeat the Arizona Cardinals, 23-21.
Vegas Nation: Nelson, Bryant out vs. Arizona
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken reports that the team will be without wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant ahead of their game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Vegas Nation: Raiders hold indoor walkthrough due to fires
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken reports from smoky Alameda, Calif. as the Raiders move their practice indoors due to the California wildfires.
Las Vegas Raiders Stadium
Las Vegas Raiders Stadium (Raiders)
Vegas Nation: Ateman prepares for NFL debut vs. Cards
Oakland Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken explains how Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant's injuries could result in seventh round pick Marcell Ateman making his NFL debut this Sunday.
Vegas Nation: Nelson, Bryant injured in loss to Chargers
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken examines the injuries to wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant.
Vegas Nation: Chargers Overpower Raiders 20-6
Ed Graney and Michael Gehlken discuss The Raiders loss to the Chargers following the California wildfires and mass shooting
Vegas Nation Mailbag: November 7, 2018
Elaine Emerson and Gilbert Manzano answer questions from fans on the Raiders before they take on the Los Angeles Chargers.
Vegas Nation: Gruden downplays sideline encounter with Guenther
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken reports from Alameda as Jon Gruden addresses the media for the first time a day after their Thursday Night Football loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Dismantled by 49ers 34-3
The Raiders fall to the 49ers following Nick Mullens' impressive debut for San Francisco.
Vegas Nation: Raiders defense looks to improve against 49ers
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken discusses the Raiders defensive woes thus far prior to their Battle of the Bay game against the 49ers.
Vegas Nation Mailbag: Oct. 30, 2018
Elaine Emerson and Gilbert Manzano answer questions from Raider Nation regarding Derek Carr's performance and Jon Gruden.
Vegas Nation: Raiders seek consistent defensive rotation
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken points out a change in the team's defensive rotation from previous games.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Give up 21 Unanswered Points in Loss to Colts
The Oakland Raiders lose to the Colts after being outscored 21-0 in the fourth quarter. Michael Gehlken and Ed Graney report from Oakland.
Vegas Nation: Osemele returns to practice ahead of Colts matchup
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken anticipates that All Pro guard Kelechi Osemele may return against the Indinapolis Colts on Sunday.
Vegas Nation: Doug Martin prepares for heavier workload vs. Colts
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken discusses Doug Martin's increased role as a featured back, as well as what the offensive line's health could potentially mean for Martin's performance.
Vegas Nation: Gruden, Smith come to Carr's defense
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken reports from Alameda, Calif. as members of the team deny reports of a fractured locker room.
Vegas Nation Mailbag: Raiders' Bye Week
Elaine Wilson and Gilbert Manzano go over comments from Raider Nation.
Vegas Nation: Draft Picks to Rebuild
Ed Graney discusses the Amari Cooper trade to the Dallas Cowboys and the future first round picks the Raiders will have.
Las Vegas Stadium Livecam
Raiders Adopt Student Resource Room At Robert Taylor Elementary School In Henderson
Former Raiders player Leo Gray and Robert Taylor Elementary School principal Kim Basham talk about the new resource room at the school on Sept. 25, 2018 in Henderson, Nevada. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
More information on design of Raiders' practice facility in Henderson
Officials plan to finish the Raiders' Henderson headquarters by spring 2020. The planned facility would be home to offices, training facilities and 4 1/2 football fields.
Vegas Nation: Raiders fall short in Week 1 to the Rams
Bryan Salmond and Gilbert Manzano are in studio recapping the first game of 2018 for the Oakland Raiders. Michael Gehlken and Ed Graney report from Oakland.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like