For the past nine years, Jon Gruden has been in the booth instead of on the sideline. The moment he took the Raiders head coaching job, the idea that football would be past him was floated.
Even though this is a bit of a unique situation with Gruden being that he has still been active in film study both for himself as well as for his Monday Night Football gig, every time something comes out that sounds like he may be behind the times, it is magnified.
Whenever he jokes about not being into technology and data and the several times he has lamented the new rules under the CBA and with him signing some older veteran players and talks about his first tenure in Oakland that started in 1998. All of which were used as proof he is behind the times and his schemes will be outdated and therefore predictable. He was already tired of it back in March, so you can imagine how annoying it’s getting now.
The latest was Jared Cook saying Gruden is showing them film from before he was born. That inevitably led people to go back to the narrative of Gruden being stuck in the stone age. So, he was forced to, once again, defend his methods.
“[Tom] Landry and Chuck Noll and [Bill] Walsh were not bad coaches. They did some good things. They did some good things from a fundamental drill standpoint too,” Gruden said after Wednesday’s practice. “I’m showing guys the drills that Jerry Rice did, showing them how Roger Craig practiced. Those can be great teaching moments. Look we’re not running a 1964 operation here. But there are some things that happened in 1964 that were pretty damn good. And if you don’t think so, go ahead and have a nice day.”
The subtext on that last part was anything but ‘have a nice day’. I won’t try and translate, but I think you get the gist.
Gruden is an old school type of guy at heart. He loves the history of the game. Talking football past and present is legitimately fun for him. He wants his players to appreciate it as well, while hopefully learning something as well.
“I’m just trying to make some points,” Gruden said, adding that a lot of the current Raiders players were really familiar with greats like Jack Tatum and Art Shell.
“Part of that is having respect for the league you’re in and the guys that came before you. You try to accomplish a lot, you only have them so long, you try to keep their attention span, and all of the sudden, there’s Dan Marino ‘Man, I didn’t know he had that quick of a release, jeez he was pretty good.’ A lot of these guys never heard of Mark Duper and Mark Clayton. I think they like it. You can make some points, show some great routes, and also teach them a little bit about some of the people that came before you.”
Who knows how the players will respond to this old film. One thing Gruden does well is plant seeds and inspire his players. From the sounds of it, that’s his aim here. To read anything more into it is probably reaching.