Oakland Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock called in to The Rich Eisen Show on Friday morning, just hours after his team jumped to 5-4 and secured a stable spot as the second place team in the AFC West.
The two men who shared a set for NFL Network from 2006 to 2018 had plenty of laughs, but also touched on some more serious and important topics, such as Antonio Brown and the amazing personal stories of Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs.
They began their conversation speaking about the Raiders’ thrilling 26-24 victory. Mayock mentioned that he loves the way his young team competes, but insisted this team is nowhere near arriving as a great football team.
The reality is, he’s right. The Raiders are a talented group of young players and they have bought into the message Jon Gruden and Mayock have instilled. But their wins have been more dramatic and lucky than a team wants to see this time of year if they’re planning to make a playoff run.
More importantly, he talked about the need for his team to get better everyday. That is something he and Gruden have preached this entire year. It is Mayock’s motto. It is a part of the foundation they are building together. It seems to be the mantra of professional sports’ best front-office executives.
And they are improving every day and every game.
Specifically, Josh Jacobs is getting better every game. Mayock told several great stories about Jacobs. First, he went down to watch Jacobs and Alabama play in the National Championship Game last January, just a few days after taking the Raiders’ general manager job. He returned to his office after the game and made a seven-play cutup and showed it to Gruden the next morning, declaring, “I want you to watch a guy, we’re going to take him in the first round.”
Mayock loves that Jacobs is the kind of back who can turn a one-yard run into four yards, and a four-yard run into 10. But when Eisen compared him to Ezekiel Elliott, Mayock pulled out the ole Bill Parcells-ism, “let’s not go anointing him or anything.”
Mayock was at the finish line for Jacobs’ 40-yard dash at the Alabama Pro Day “hoping it would be bad, because I knew that would turn some people off.”
Later, he told the story of NFL Films and some other outlets asking Jacobs to do some spots for their respective shows. Jacobs went to Mayock and asked if he could get out of them because he didn’t want anything to distract him from football.
Clearly, Jacobs’ hard work and attention to detail is paying off, and the whole nation got to see the results last night as he of course scored the game-winning touchdown.
The first-year GM also had plenty of praise for his rookie draft class, but admitted his team hasn’t made life easy on No. 4 overall pick Clelin Ferrell by asking him to play inside. “He’d never done that in his life.” Yet he and fellow rookie Maxx Crosby just terrorized Philip Rivers in Thursday night’s win.
It was a terribly impressive outing by those two, and the young man with maybe the craziest story of anyone, at least in the Raiders’ building, Erik Harris.
Mayock was quick to praise his players, but didn’t take too much credit for any of the player selections. He also talked about Darren Waller’s journey and his focus to give back and help people with the platform he now has.
He mostly eschewed Eisen’s question about Antonio Brown possibly getting back into the NFL, stating simply, “he is not of my concern anymore.” Eisen astutely left it at that.
Perhaps most importantly, Mayock could not have been more praiseworthy of his quarterback Derek Carr. He praised his leadership, his accuracy, his buy-in to the run-first mentality, and the way he spreads the ball around to so many different receivers. That last trait has allowed another rookie, Hunter Renfrow, to shine.
Mayock admitted the GM life is a grind, and there’s no time to “kick your feet up in the sand and have a beer,” because “it’s a 24/7, 365 days a year job.” But it is clear he is getting the hang of it, and is doing a fine job.
But he won’t be able to make it to Tuscaloosa for LSU-Alabama, something he had previously planned to do, because the Raiders “have some stuff going on here.” What could that be?
He wouldn’t talk specifically about Tua or Joe Burrow or any other prospects but said that’s a game scouts and front-office executives would ”probably end up watching 30 times.”
You can listen to the whole interview here.
The Rich Eisen Show airs daily at 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PT on AT&T AUDIENCE Network which can be found on DIRECTV Ch. 239