The Raiders kick off their preseason on Friday against the Detroit Lions, but this matchup will be more than just a game, it marks the return of Jon Gruden to the NFL sidelines. After a nine-year coaching hiatus in which he became a football icon working for ESPN, Gruden will don the Silver & Black for the first time since infamously being traded to the Buccaneers in 2002. Gruden is ecstatic for his return, but is also ready to face the challenges that come with being away from coaching for close to a decade.
“I am looking forward to it,” Gruden told the media on Wednesday. “I am looking forward to it big time. I’ve got some things obviously I’ve got to work out. Anticipating situations, communicating with coaches in the press box, the referees on the field, the new rules interpretations. So I’ve got to work myself through calling plays again and managing some tough situations and I’m anxious to see if I can do it.”
While he certainly has to get adjusted with the new rules, football and X’s and O’s will not be a problem, as Raiders quarterback Derek Carr truly believes Gruden has watched every snap from every game in NFL history. The game has changed in the past decade, but he remained close to it as an ESPN football analyst and star of Monday Night Football.
Working for ESPN gave the coach the opportunity to study each NFL team, and come away with new tips and ideas he could implement if he ever made a return to coaching.
Raider Nation will get a glimpse at some of those lessons he learned on Friday, as Gruden plans to implement a ‘big playbook’ against the Lions.
“We have a big playbook for this game because if you give them a small playbook, that’s what they study for four days,” Gruden said. “So, if you give them a whole big playbook, they have to study the whole gamut and they really don’t know what you’re going to call and you have to have a big playbook I think because after the second quarter you run out of players. You know, you don’t have the same receivers that you want to call a play for in the third quarter. You might get a guy nicked up and you can’t use the two tight end set so you have to have some adaptability and with that said you have to have a pretty thick nucleus of plays available and I like it because it makes them study.”
Football is back, and so is Jon Gruden to where he belongs, the Raiders sideline.