Rich Gannon is a man of his word; his many, many words. The former Raiders QB who became an MVP quarterback for Jon Gruden and current NFL analyst was vocal throughout his entire NFL career so going into media was a natural fit. This off-season Gannon was rumored to be a candidate to be the Raiders QB coach under Jon Gruden. Though that fell through, Gannon did say he was going to come and sit in on some QB meetings.
His first visit in the Gruden era has happened on the 2nd day of mandatory mini camp. He came away quite pleased with what he is seeing between his former coach and Raiders QB Derek Carr and If anybody knows how much Gruden expects from his QB it’s Gannon.
“I think they’ve really jelled,” Gannon told the Bay Area News Group. “I get the sense that it’s a really good fit. Derek has completely bought in. It’s impressive to sit in the meetings, being around Derek and seeing his aptitude and how quickly he’s gotten a real good feel for things.
“You look at his huddle command, and when Jon asks questions he’s spitting out the information so quickly. Derek’s really going to benefit from that relationship.”
This was the area that Gannon was really wanting to see between Jon Gruden and Derek Carr because of how important it is for the two to be on the same page. Gruden isn’t a fit with everyone, Gannon needed to see that Carr could fit with him. It’s encouraging to see him come away from his first meetings with them and feel like Carr is matching Gruden’s personality well.
“Jon’s intense and you have to be able to match his intensity,” Gannon said. “I think Derek is really a smart guy, he’s bought in, he loves it, he loves football, he can’t get enough. That’s Jon’s thing. You feed off Jon’s enthusiasm.”
Carr himself has spoken about how he needed a coach to push him harder and that he is loving his time picking Gruden’s mind. Even though Carr has been glowing in his comments about Gruden throughout the off-season, it’s even more comforting to see someone from the outside that knows Gruden so well speak highly about what he is seeing in their relationship.
The funny thing is Gannon went in expecting to be a lot more comfortable himself with Gruden’s offense than he ended up being. He wasn’t anticipating it to have changed as much as it has, a good sign for anybody worried that Gruden wasn’t adjusting to the times since his last game a decade ago.
“I’ll be honest, I sat in meetings and it was a little uncomfortable for me,” Gannon said. “I didn’t think I was going to walk in there and know it all, but man, there’s a lot of different terminology and verbiage and tweaks and additions. There’s similar concepts but it’s evolved.”
Some things haven’t changed though, and that’s the responsibility that Jon Gruden puts on his quarterback. That’s all still there according to Gannon, but it looks to him like Carr is excelling at what he’s being asked to do.
“There is a lot of responsibility placed on him, as there was me, in terms of seeing things, changing things, getting in the right play, making the right choice, changing the protection,” Gannon said. “And Carr is really, really good at it. You can tell he doesn’t make many mental mistakes. He knows where to go with the ball. His anticipation is good.”
One part of Carr’s game that has been extremely frustrating at times is his lack of willingness to run when there’s space in front of him. This is another area that Gannon sees being improved under Gruden whose system creates opportunities for the QB to make plays themselves. Carr is actually pretty fast even though he hasn’t used it much, but Gannon took notice right away of that aspect of Carr’s game.
“He’s got real good feet and I think that’s one area he’ll be better at is his ability extend plays and make plays off the scramble, move the pocket, things like that,” Gannon said. “I think he’s a natural at it.”
He’s not the only one that thinks that Carr is a natural at it, it’s something that has been missing from his game considering his ability to do it. Nobody wants the quarterback to take unnecessary risks but sometimes the best play is to take what is in front of you.
Hopefully Gannon is right in his assessment. The Raiders will go as far as Carr and Gruden can take them so they need to develop a great relationship. It’s a good sign that the QB who had the best relationship with Gruden as his coach is saying he is seeing the two working well together. Now it’s just waiting for the long wait before we get to see how it plays out in a game.