Well folks, Grudemania is finally upon us. Today, the Oakland Raiders welcomed Jon Gruden back into the fold, signing him to be the head coach for the next ten years. At 3pm EST, general manager Reggie McKenzie and owner Mark Davis held a press conference, re-introducing Gruden. Here’s what I took away from the conference.
Observations From the Jon Gruden Press Conference
First off, this was a weirdly star-studded event. They had over 115 credentialed reporters, and several former Raiders, including hall of famers like Howie Long. Even though the event took place in Oakland’s weight-room, it was like a broadway production. Mark Davis and company went all out to make sure this was an event like no other.
Davis and McKenzie opened the conference, thanking Gruden’s parents, and introducing the members of his family that were live at the event before introducing the man of the hour himself, head coach Jon Gruden. He started by acknowledging the players that were in attendance, including a hilarious job to Charles Woodson that “Tom Brady fumbled that ball” in reference to the Tuck Rule. He then professed his love for the Oakland Raiders, and the Raider Nation.
Gruden described his desire to win and announced the hirings of defensive coordinator, Paul Guenther, offensive coordinator, Greg Olson, and special teams coordinator, Richard Bisaccia.
The first few questions were about how Gruden was coaxed out of the booth and back to coaching, and Gruden was unsurprisingly elusive. He was asked about whether he still had the maniacal work ethic and drive, which he claims he still did. He stated that his schedule actually hasn’t changed much since he was fired in Tampa Bay.
The next question was regarding Derek Carr, who Gruden bragged about. He said he loved Carr’s athleticism, his arm, and that he felt that consistency with his coaches would be good for the young quarterback. He seems genuinely excited to work with the 26 year old quarterback.
The next question was a good one, he was asked how the game has changed since his last coaching gig, ten years ago. He acknowledged that he’s been out of coaching for a long time, and stressed the importance of hiring the right coaching staff, and how he feels he has a lot to prove. He went on to mention that he’s learned a lot from touring around practices and training camps as a member of the media.
Gruden and McKenzie were asked how they’d manage personnel, and the coach stressed that it would have to be a collaborative effort. The Green Bay Packers attempted to poach McKenzie, but was unable to do so. McKenzie backed Gruden up, saying it’s a team effort and that they’ll work together. It’s good to see the duo as a united front.
Gruden explained that the offense the team will be running will be based on the personnel they have, which is fantastic, because Jack Del Rio and Todd Downing didn’t do that at all. That can only mean good things for this Raiders offense.
He was asked why the Raiders went 6-10 last year, but he dodged the question for the most part. He referenced changes on the coaching staff and a few injuries, but that he was going to establish a plan to rebuild the team. Gruden stressed that he wanted to improve everything from the roster to the way they practice. It was a reassuring, if politically correct answer.
Gruden was asked about the move to Las Vegas, but he mostly deflected it. He said he loved Oakland, that he was looking forward to seeing the Black Hole, but that Mark Davis would answer the questions about the relocation.
A good, but tough question was regarding whether Gruden’s hard-assed coaching style would translate to the modern NFL, but he answered it honestly. He said the players in attendance didn’t seem to mind, and that while he’s perceived as being tough on their players, he’s also their biggest fan.
Gruden announced that he’d be in charge of play-calling, but again, mostly deflected questions regarding Derek Carr’s regression and any potential problems caused by an anthem protest. He completely shrugged off questions regarding the anthem controversy, and only spoke glowingly of Carr and the prospect of coaching him.
Charles Woodson came to the podium, and hilariously asked if there’s a no-trade clause in his contract, which got a huge laugh. He turned that joke into a heartfelt message, claiming any of the veterans were welcome back at any time, and that he’d like to see those veterans around to help the young Raiders.
A reporter asked what message Jon Gruden would like to send to the Raider Nation, and he said he was glad to be back, he didn’t want to leave, and that he was looking forward to getting to work and winning some games.
Gruden was asked about how he’d react if Marshawn Lynch wanted to come back for one more season, and he said that he’s looking forward to meeting him, sitting down, and talking about his future with the team.
Gruden had some interesting comments about the CBA. He seemed unhappy with the limitations, and stressed how important it was to get as much done in as little time as possible.
More On The Coordinators
He also made some interesting comments about how he kept a list of coordinators that he’d really like to bring in if he became a coach again, and spoke glowingly of the coaches he’d hired. He really loved Guenther’s defenses, and even spoke about how he liked that Greg Olson has a history with Carr. Which… someone else mentioned…
I actually really like the Greg Olson hire. A lot of people don’t like it, because of his previous stint in Oakland, but that’s exactly why I like it. It’s not a new offensive coordinator for Carr because the two already have a history.
— Ryan (@RyanSmithNFL) January 9, 2018
Gruden came off as very sincere and very excited in this press conference. He said all the right things, and seemed genuinely happy to be back in Oakland. He spoke glowingly of the Raider Nation and his players, and seemed to be excited about Derek Carr in particular. Raider Nation…. this could be fun.