I’m 99 percent sure you’ve seen the video.
Since Jon Gruden became linked to head coaching job for the Oakland Raiders, and was then eventually hired on January 6, one of the clips that began recirculating was a video of him giving the business to a young quarterback in Tampa Bay who was having a hard time getting the play call into the huddle.
That young signal-caller was Chris Simms, and now that his playing career is over, the former Texas Longhorn hosts his own podcast and is an analyst for Bleacher Report, but even though it’s been almost a decade since he played in an NFL game, he still has vivid memories of his three seasons with Gruden.
And because of those experiences, he’s on the shortlist of folks who know exactly what Derek Carr should expect in 2018.
“I would tell him [Carr], get ready,” said Simms. “That’s what I would tell him, because it’s just going to be knowledge galore being thrown at him. He’s going to learn more football this offseason under Jon Gruden than he ever has any offseason, maybe put together, and then he better get ready for intensity and emotions, okay, because that’s the other thing I can promise you Jon Gruden is going to bring to the table. He comes into the office at 4:30 in the morning every day, ready to go. He’s the mad scientist; that’s what I call him, and I just think that the one thing you have to be ready for is he’s going to demand greatness out of Derek Carr, in the meeting room, on the field.”
Simms said Gruden is about as detail oriented as it comes, in all facets of the game, and yes, that applies to his playbook, and its famously specific calls.
So what would a call in a Gruden offense sound like then? Simms smiled, took a deep breath, and then rattled off the following:
“A play might be, ‘hey, we’re going to go dummy snap count, West Right Slot, Z Counter Orbit, 72Z Bingo U-Split. We’re going to can it with 58 Lexus, and I want to apple it with 3-14 Hammer, on one, dummy snap count, on one, ready, break,’” Simms relayed. “That’s how he [Gruden] would do it.”
Carr will unquestionably be asked to do a lot in his first year under center with Gruden, but according to Simms, remembering verbiage that extensive won’t be one of things on his to-do list.
“I’ll say this right here; I just had a conversation with Jon Gruden, and he told me that’s been the big thing he’s done since he last coached me, or left Tampa, is that he’s condensed the verbiage of his offense,” Simms explained. “So I guess you’re going to see more of that, but yes, as compared to other offenses I was in, certainly one of the most complex, and definitely, maybe the most long winded at times, because Gruden of course is very detailed as you guys are finding out, and he wants everybody to know their specific job.”
One of those specific jobs, as far as Carr is concerned, will be getting the ball to the Raiders playmakers out wide, mainly Amari Cooper and the recently-acquired Jordy Nelson.
“It’s pretty strong,” Simms said of the Cooper/Nelson tandem. “Again, Jordy, I don’t think we’ve seen the real Jordy because he’s really just getting back from that ACL injury that he got a few years back. I think this is the year we’re going to see more of the Jordy Nelson we knew before that ACL injury, but yes, you’ve got a little bit of both…
“Amari Cooper, he has Hall of Fame type talent,” Simms explained. “There’s no denying that. If he can just limit the drops, and some of those things that he’s had issues with, man. You’ve got a guy that’s big and smart, and good route runner on one side, and then you got Amari Cooper, who’s just an ultimate, physical talent, who’s smart and can run routes, and can run by you, yeah, you’re going to have your work cut out for you if you’re a defensive coordinator.”
If the Silver and Black are successful in 2018, it’ll be for a plethora reasons – on both sides of the ball – but health aside, Simms thinks the key for Carr and the Raiders is a simple one, just listen.
“Listen to Jon Gruden, and execute the offense,” he said. “That’s really going to be the biggest thing. Just listen to what he tells you. He’s going to teach you all the right things, all the keys to look for, know the offense like the back of your hand… He [Carr] has to be that ultimate general, and just have thick skin; be Derek Carr and kick some butt.”