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Best to disregard Shannon Sharpe, Rod Woodson’s outlandish criticism of Jon Gruden and the Raiders

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Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden’s moves in free agency have not been received well by many.

Super Bowl XLV - Pro Football Hall of Fame Announces 2011 Class Enshrinees Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Former Denver Bronco and Undisputed co-host Sharpe had former Raiders defensive backs coach Rod Woodson on FS1’s Undisputed this week. The two went off on Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and his comments at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine about taking football back to 1998 and his moves in free agency.

Most notably, Woodson criticized Gruden for bringing in Jordy Nelson for Michael Crabtree and sarcastically wishing Gruden luck taking the game back to 1998. The craziest part of this was his claim Crabtree was the glue of the offense, giving it toughness.

So running back Marshawn Lynch ran over Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey but Crabtree gives the Raiders toughness?

Derek Carr plays the season with three broken bones in his back and he doesn’t give the Raiders toughness?

What did Crabtree do so tough, get his chain snatched twice?

Even coming off an ACL tear, Nelson was ranked the No. 51 receiver to Crabtree’s No. 62, according to Pro Football Focus grading.

They said Nelson can’t run anymore but the man had 6 TD’s in the first five games before Aaron Rogers got injured. He’s still faster and the deep threat Crabtree never was, he just didn’t have a connection with backup QB Brett Hundley. But Nelson didn’t cry or quit, or earn the nickname Crabby Patty, when things didn’t go well.

Woodson was a great player and deserves his gold jacket but this is why he shouldn’t coach again. In both of his opportunities as a cornerbacks coach for the Raiders, he didn’t improve anything.

Woodson’s cornerbacks cost the Raiders a playoff birth in 2011, finishing No. 27 against the pass after finishing No. 2 in 2010. In 2016, the Raiders were No. 23 when he was an assistant DB’s coach then fell to No. 26 when he was promoted to CB’s coach. So let Woodson say what he wants and be the scorned lover we knows he is.

Sharpe was skeptical of Gruden becoming the Raiders’ head coach again from the start. Most of his problem with Gruden is schematic so when Gruden brought in a blocking tight end and fullback — not used so much today — Sharpe was very critical, again referring to 1998.

“It is a different game, Jon Gruden, than the one you left. And it you think you can go back even 10 years before you left,” Sharpe said. “That’s not gonna happen Skip [Bayless], this is a different time. He needs to evolve and I just think too much time has passed him by for him to evolve because remember, he said he’s taking this thing back to ‘98 because that’s what he knows.”

With the new rules, the NFL became a passing league and H-backs and tight ends are taking over, spreading out in the formation. But with the exception of sprinkling in the Spread Offense, the game hasn’t changed much. Most NFL teams still incorporate some form of the West Coast Offense, which Gruden is known for.

“The game has not changed that much as far as Xs and Os,” First thing’s First’s Cris Carter said. “There are some things, practice-wise and other things that there are tremendous adjustments to.”

Whatever scheme changes there are, Gruden knows them, having visited all 32 teams, picked their head coach’s brains and watched them apply their schemes on game day. He even took it further, getting up at 4:00 in the morning to prepare for his comeback.

Gruden has seen where the NFL is already starting to go back to the ‘90s. After three years of no running backs selected in the first round, the Los Angeles Rams took Todd Gurley at No. 10 overall, coming off a torn ACL. You can see from where Rams are now that it was a good pick. The Dallas Cowboys finished 4-12 in 2015 and then took RB Ezekiel Elliott at No. 4 overall in 2016. Sharpe, then on First Take, had some things to say about that which have since been proven wrong.

“So you want me to believe and you want all the people that are watching this show today, because they drafted [Ezekiel] Elliott.” Sharpe said. “Now all of the sudden, they are the beasts of the East?”

Well, they kinda were that year, going 13-3 and losing in the divisional round of the playoffs to the Green Bay Packers. Then in 2017, Elliott served a six-game suspension and the Cowboys missed the playoffs at 9-7.

The Jacksonville Jaguars went from 3-13 to 10-6 and the AFC South division title after taking Leonard Fournette at No. 4 overall. And if you look back at 2017, the Cowboys were the only team in the top 10 (No. 2) in rushing that didn’t make the playoffs and they were close. Yes, even the New England Patriots with the great Tom Brady, were No. 10.

Former Penn State RB Saquon Barkley is projected to go in the top-5 in the 2018 NFL Draft. So we can see the running game and the RB position is important again. There are smaller coverage linebackers to be taken advantage of and Gruden knows it.

Gruden’s plan is to “pound the rock”, which is not a crazy plan. It just might work.

Woodson started his rant saying he didn’t want to sound “like a scorned lover.” When a guy says he doesn’t want to sound like something, that’s usually what he sounds like. And Woodson did. Probably best to just disregard it.