One of the earliest rumors among the first reports that Jon Gruden was coming back to coach for the Raiders was that he wanted Rich Gannon to be his quarterback coach. Both men have had very successful broadcast careers since they left football, Gruden on ESPN’s Monday Night Football and Gannon as part of a CBS gameday broadcast team.
This week, with talk of Gannon potentially leaving the booth and reuniting with Gruden on the Raiders’ sideline, his weekly appearance with Greg Papa on Bay Area radio station 95.7 The Game took on a new feel.
Papa asked Gannon directly if the reports were true, that he was to be Gruden’s QB coach.
“Honestly we talked about it in the past,” said Gannon. “A year ago, two years ago, three years ago, every time he’s always mentioned to me that he’s wanted to get back into coaching. Sometimes jokingly and sometimes serious, he’s said ‘hey, you should consider it’ and that type of thing. We really haven’t had the opportunity because of his schedule with ESPN and my schedule with CBS to really sit down and have a really lengthy conversation. So, my focus is just ensuring that he will take the job and get to Oakland after this playoff game and then at that point I think it’d be an appropriate time, if in fact he has interest in me being a part of it, to sit down and have a conversation.”
Following Gannon’s interview, Kevin Harlan, who shares the CBS booth with Gannon, came on and what he said of Gannon may be even more revealing. He spoke of how linked Gannon and Gruden are and how perfectly matched they are.
It was interesting that the Raiders’ final two games this season were called by Gruden (Philadelphia) and Gannon (Los Angeles). And Harlan said he and Gannon went to dinner Saturday night, as they often do. And even as passionate as Gannon usually is, he was on another level prior to calling the Raiders season finale last Sunday.
“On Saturday night, in Los Angeles, before the Raiders-Chargers game a couple days ago I don’t know if I’ve seen him as animated and . . . he was very up,” Harland said of Gannon. “The adrenaline was flowing. There was something different about him. . . I thought the thought of what might be out there, the excitement he has for the Raider organization, which he loves, which he respects very much. And I think there’s something at play. I thing he’s very intrigued by if an offer would be made and if he’d feel comfortable.”
Just for good measure, Gannon spoke on what he ‘would’ do to, as Papa phrased it “fix” Derek Carr’s fundamentals which were clearly not right this season.
“I would start with the lower half of his body,” said Gannon. “I don’t think there’s any question he’s got really great arm talent, but he gets lazy with his feet at times, he doesn’t push away from center, he gets lazy from the gun sometimes, his change of direction skills can and will improve.
“I would encourage him to use his legs more, pick up a couple first downs, extending plays. You look at Aaron Rodgers who’s probably the poster child for that type of play and I think Derek has that athleticism to do more of that. I’m not saying to turn him into a 500-yard rusher or turn him into a guy that runs all over the yard, but you want to make sure that you see some of his athleticism, his explosiveness, I think it starts with the lower half of his body.
“I just think his overall attention to detail, his preparation...you can understand offensive football, but then you can be a master of it. You can just know what everybody is doing and why they’re doing it and I think the why is going to be important. Why is Jon calling plays or why is Jon installing this particular protection, or what is Jon anticipating with this type of call. . . he’s going to want to do that.”
Very interesting. Very, very interesting.