Once again the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, Jon Gruden wants his team to be more like the New England Patriots.
Jon Gruden, one of the former voices of Monday Night Football and the former star of Jon Gruden’s QB Camp, will at last be finding himself back on the sidelines as the head coach of an NFL team. He’s in a familiar position, once again running the Oakland Raiders, a team that he coached from 1998 to 2001.
Now that he’s back home, Gruden’s goal for the 2018 season is to help the Raiders, a team on the rise in the AFC West, bounce back from a disappointing 6-10 campaign in 2017. But he wants his team to be more like the team that has dominated the NFL for the last two decades, the New England Patriots.
The Pats, under head coach Bill Belichick, have garnered a reputation for always finding ways to beat even the toughest of opponents, whether they be conventional or unconventional methods. They’ve been doing it for almost 20 years, and five Super Bowl titles have come along with it.
That’s the kind of team Gruden wants to turn the Raiders into.
“Want to be like New England,” Gruden said, according to USA Today. “I’ve said that all along. I want to be able to adapt to who we’re playing. Can we be a two-back team if we want to? If that’s going to help us win, let’s put (Marshawn) Lynch in there with Lee Smith, let’s put the fullback in and let’s go. If we want to spread ‘em out with no backs instead, let’s do that to win the game.”
Interestingly enough, Gruden was right there on the sidelines when the upstart Patriots became the dominant Patriots they are today. Thanks to the infamous “Tuck Rule” in the middle of a New England blizzard, 24-year-old Tom Brady led the Patriots to an upset win over Gruden’s Raiders in the 2001 playoffs – en route to their first ever Super Bowl championship.
Gruden knows that in order to become that team, you have to have an elite quarterback under center. The Patriots have had Brady for 17 seasons, and Gruden believes he has one in 27-year-old Derek Carr.
“I don’t have enough plays for this kid,” Gruden said. “He’s just totally enamored with coming in here every day and getting better. His energy level is incredible. It’s not easy to coach a guy like that. He’s like (Rich) Gannon. If you’re not helping him get 1% or 2% percent better, he’s not happy.”
After adding pieces like Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant and Doug Martin to help complement Carr, it will be interesting to see what kind of strides the Oakland offense will make under Gruden in 2018.