Updated July 21, 2021 - 12:20 pm
Speculation and rumors from outside the Raiders’ facility for the last three years have painted the union between coach Jon Gruden and starting quarterback Derek Carr as anything from tenuous to amicable.
General manager Mike Mayock apparently prefers the term corny.
“They’re definitely on the same page. Derek is even finishing Jon’s sentences now,” Mayock said. “It’s like a corny marriage. It’s really funny.”
Mayock made the comments during an appearance on his former NFL Network colleague Lindsay Rhodes’ podcast last week.
It was part of an explanation of how important the GM-coach and coach-quarterback relationships are to building a winning foundation within a franchise, unions Mayock insists are both on solid ground.
Mayock said he’s been impressed with Carr’s ability on the field as well as the way he intakes and processes the vast amount of information Gruden asks his quarterbacks to consume.
“I don’t know if Derek has a photographic memory or not, but his memory is mind-boggling,” Mayock said. “Jon puts a lot on his plate and he handles it seamlessly. The two seasons I’ve been here, he’s gotten better each year. I’m excited to see where he can take this thing.”
Mayock’s relationship with Gruden has also been a constant source of speculation
“Jon and I, it’s interesting, we’re both highly opinionated,” Mayock said. “We see a lot of it the same way. We both like guys that love ball. We both like tough, physical players. We value intrinsically both tangibles and intangibles. But like every coach and GM in the league, we’re going to disagree on some people and that’s where it gets fun. Jon challenges me, I challenge him. We do it with coaches, we do it with our scouts. The ultimate goal is to get to the right player.”
Mayock believes the organization has done that more often than not during his two seasons as general manager, even if the outside world often mocks the Raiders for so-called reaches in the draft.
He prefers to see it as independent evaluation as opposed to the group-think that is far too often taken as gospel in the land of football punditry. Mayock said it’s important to have an understanding of how other teams are thinking because it defines value on draft day.
But if the Raiders like a player and there is agreement from the coaches to the scouts to the front office, they’re not going to back off just because it falls out of line with widely published rankings.
“At the end of the day, it comes back to eventually being judged by wins and losses,” he said. “A couple years down the road, people will look back and say Mayock sucked or he didn’t and that’s OK. We have to believe in our board just like every other team has to believe in theirs.”
That’s not to say there’s always perfect harmony at the team facility in Henderson. Healthy disagreement is a key part of the process. Mayock insists he and Gruden are open to dissent from the ranks on certain players and decisions.
“I’m a big believer that disconnects and cross-checks are critical at every level,” he said. “If I’m going to sit in a room and talk over my scouts, I need to check myself a little bit. Honest discourse is critical.”
The philosophy goes all the way to the top. While he laughed off a question about how close the strong-minded Mayock and equally intense Gruden have ever been to coming to blows, he did say conversations have turned heated.
The most important thing, according to Mayock, is they have both learned to concede a little when the other has a strong feeling about a decision.
“When there’s an appropriate time for me to make a stance, I’m going to make one,” he said. “Jon Gruden is the same way. So there are times when our stances may be at odds and we can get into it. We can close the door and get into it and that’s fine. I think the cool thing is … it’s gotten to the point where it needs to be where we can find a way to get on the same page and just ask what’s best for the Raiders. I think every day we get a little better at that.”
The Raiders open training camp next week at the Henderson facility.