Whenever a team adds a player from another team, the conversation becomes about the potential benefit having a player who was once privy to the inner workings of the opposing team. Now, imagine if that player did a tour of every team in the league and you’ll have an idea of what the Raiders have in Jon Gruden.
The former 11-year NFL coach spent the past nine years as an analyst for Monday Night Football. That job comes with the perk of getting to attend the practices of the two teams that are set to play in the game and to speak with the opposing coach.
Undoubtedly there are many benefits to seeing the game from the broadcast side of things, many of which we don’t even know about. So, I asked Gruden about it at his introductory press conference.
“Look, I’ve gotten to see every facility in the league,” Gruden said of what he’s learned in his time away from the sideline. “I’ve had a chance to watch practices and see how they conduct training camps. I’ve had the chance to learn and see some things that I’ve never gotten to see as a coach. I’ve had a chance to study different offenses, different defenses, and the chance to get into personnel more. I think I’m more big picture now than what I was in the past, but I still want to be very detailed in terms of how we play offense. I still want to be very involved with how we move the football. I have had some unique and beneficial opportunities as a broadcaster.”
This week another broadcaster echoed Gruden’s words about the benefits to seeing the game from the booth — NBC football analyst, Chris Collinsworth.
“I know Jon has seen so much,” Collinsworth told the network’s Bay Area affiliate Tuesday. “I know that I have. I think it’ll give him a big edge.”
“You watch all these teams practice, and you talk to them about their organization, their structure and their approach to free agency and getting insights into what they’re doing. Then you multiply that. I think I’ve been to 27 of the 32 NFL teams this year.”
As Mark Davis recounted, even in all the years Gruden has been away from coaching, he has remained just as passionate as he always was.
The now 54-year-old ball coach had tape at his fingertips at his ‘Fired Football Coaches Association’ lab at his home in Tampa. Calling games and watching tape as obsessively as he has makes for a fairly unique situation. Where many coaches may have stepped away from the game — perhaps to go run a bed and breakfast somewhere — and had the game pass them by over 9 years away, Gruden has stayed current. He has seen with the way the league has evolved and has had a window though which to watch it all in extreme detail.
If anyone’s experience away from coaching has prepared him to face any team in the league, it’s him.