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: Leon Hall battles sickle cell illness
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken talks about Leon Hall's sickle cell illness that prevented the cornerback from flying home with the team last week in Denver.
Vegas Nation Mailbag: Week 3
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal sports writer Gilbert Manzano answer your burning questions about the Raiders and Jon Gruden.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Practice After Loss To Broncos
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over how Jon Gruden is improving the team after the 20-19 loss to the Denver Broncos.
Gruden touts Carr's pocket presence
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden hopes to get bigger plays from Derek Carr as the season rolls along, and the coach praises Carr's ability to feel pressure in the pocket.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Pass Rush Noticeably Lacking
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken talks about another poor pass rushing performance by the Raiders defense as the team looks ahead to Miami.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Fall To The Broncos
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond, Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney, Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken and sports writer Gilbert Manzano goes over the Raiders 19-20 loss against the Denver Broncos.
Vegas Nation: Kolton Miller prepares for Von Miller matchup on Sunday
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken previews the upcoming matchup between rookie left tackle Kolton Miller and Broncos linebacker Von Miller.
Vegas Nation: Bryant ready to play for Raiders immediately
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken talks about Martavis Bryant's return to the Raiders practice field, as well as a potential suspension for the wide receiver.
Martavis Bryant "Very Surprised" with Raiders Re-Signing
Raiders wide receiver Martavis Bryant speaks with the media for the first time since the team cut and re-signed him within a ten day time frame.
Vegas Nation Mailbag
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal sports writer Gilbert Manzano goes over Raider Nation's reaction to the Raiders loss to the Rams.
Vegas Nation: Martavis Bryant Returns to the Raiders
Bryan Salmond is in studio and Michael Gehlken reports from Alameda as Martavis Bryant returns to the Raiders and Oakland picks up to new defensive linemen.
Gruden, Carr Believe Bryant is in a "Good Place"
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and starting quarterback Derek Carr talk about Martavis Bryant returning with the team after being cut over a week ago.
Las Vegas Raiders Stadium Progress
Construction at Las Vegas Raiders stadium as seen on September 11, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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.
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.
Sports Betting Spotlight: Las Vegas sports books will be Raiders fans in season opener
Las Vegas sports books will be big Raiders fans in Oakland's season opener. Mat Luschek/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Vegas Nation Stadium Show: Raiders name 4 locations for stadium parking
Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney and business reporter Rick Velotta discuss the Raiders' four proposed stadium parking locations and what that could mean for tailgating and traffic to and from the stadium.
Vegas Nation: AJ McCarron Learns Gruden's Playbook
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over AJ McCarron learning Gruden's offense before the Raiders play the L.A. Rams on Monday.
Kolton Miller "excited", "a little nervous" for regular season debut
Raiders starting rookie left tackle Kolton miller talks about his impending regular season debut against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday.
Vegas Nation Mailbag: Khalil Mack trade
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal sports writer Gilbert Manzano go over what Raider Nation thinks about the Raiders before their first game against the Rams.
Amari Cooper Ready for Monday Night Football
Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper looks forward to team's season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
Vegas Nation 9.3 Alt
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken talks about the team's first practice after the Khalil Mack trade, and the player's reaction to the trade.
Vegas Nation 9.2 Alt
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken reports from Alameda, Calif. as Jon Gruden addresses the media for the first time after Khalil Mack's trade to Chicago.
Derek Carr looks toward career without 'brother' Khalil Mack
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr speaks with the media for the first time following Khalil Mack's trade to the Chicago Bears on Saturday.
Gruden Addresses Khalil Mack Trade
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden addresses the media for the first time following defensive end Khalil Mack's trade to the Chicago Bears.
Vegas Nation: Raiders hold first practice since Khalil Mack trade
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken talks about the team's first practice after the Khalil Mack trade, and the player's reaction to the trade.
Marshawn Lynch celebrates grand opening of his Las Vegas store with fans and family
Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch meets with fans and discusses the opening of his store 'Beastmode' in Las Vegas.
Raiders BBQ
On Friday, July 20, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden hosted — and paid for — a free barbecue for Raiders fans. Gruden teamed up with the Raiders and Ricky's Sports Theater and Grill in San Leandro, Calif. as a way to show thanks and gratitude for the support of the Raider Nation. Over 500 Raiders fans showed up to the event that had music, raffles, and appearances from Raiders alumni. This was the final event before the Raiders begin their training camp next week in Napa. Chris Booker Las Vegas Review-Journal
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like