The NFL Owners meetings are currently being held in Orlando, Fla. The Silver and Black’s contingency is present along with the other 31 clubs, and amidst all the rules and topics being voted on, Head Coach Jon Gruden took some time Tuesday morning to meet with reporters and answer questions.
The hour-long interview can be viewed on Raiders.com, but let’s take a look at some of the best quotes from his media session:
Gruden spoke about the team’s tight ends group, and how he’ll use all of them in 2018.
“We’ve got Jared Cook, he’s a great receiving tight end, we’re going to use him. If you watch Philadelphia play, they just won the Super Bowl, and they use three tight ends, a lot. They drove defenses crazy, and sorry about that, but I like tight ends, they create a lot of unpredictability. Kansas City Chiefs are in our division, they use three tight ends, and it drives people crazy. It’s a great package to have, you can close people out in the four-minute drill, run out the clock, you can hand the ball off on the goal-line, there’s some great play-actions, and I don’t think I’m a whole heck of a lot different than Doug Pederson and Andy Reid that way. I like tight ends, and they’re hard to find nowadays because they’re not being produced in college football like they once were, so sometimes you’ve got to find them in free agency.”
He shared some of the positives from spending the last nine years in the broadcast booth.
Here's a look at new Raiders linebacker Emmanuel Lamur.
“It’s obviously been eye-opening to see some of the things that I’ve been able to see, some of the frustrations coaches have, some of the facilities teams have put in. It’s been a great tool, but it doesn’t guarantee wins. It just heightens your imagination, gives you some thoughts maybe that other people don’t have. I remember when I was the coach of the Raiders, I always wondered what Marty Schottenheimer was saying to his team, what his facility looked like, and now I know. Hopefully it’ll help us in the strength and conditioning world, we can add a machine here or there, maybe we can upgrade a facility, maybe we can put a drill in that I saw in Green Bay. Knowledge is a powerful thing, and I’ve always tried to accumulate as much knowledge as I can, and hopefully it’s a tool.”
Gruden talked about why the team’s been successful in adding players through free agency thus far.
“When you come in you don’t get out, man. The magical powers of recruiting! It’s been tough, free agency, sometimes you want to go after door number one, but sometimes you don’t have the resources to do that. We didn’t feel like we needed to bring in three players, we felt like we needed to bring in a lot of players. We had a lot of needs, and I think we said that in Indianapolis. Our secondary was decimated, our linebacking core we didn’t have any numbers, two of our defensive linemen were free agents, we had a lot of issues. We tried to bring in a lot of players, and our success rate was pretty good when we got them in the building.”
He divulged what the process of hiring each member of the coaching staff was like.
“I had to fight for all these coaches. I had to fight for all of them. They all have agents now, all these coaches have agents too. I had to compete to hire every one of our coaches, every one of them was sought after. It was a grind, but once we get you in the building, as I said earlier, there’s magic (laughter). I think [Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator] [Rich] Bisaccia and I worked together, won a championship together, and have very similar backgrounds, we’re very close. I’m not saying that’s why he came, but I think the Raiders, the excitement around what we’re trying to do here, the brand of the Oakland Raiders was a good selling point for all these coaches.”
Gruden made it very clear the team needs to get some help for All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack.
“I think with Mack, we’ve obviously got to get him signed somehow, but he is a spectacular player. I don’t think he’s scratched the surface yet. I think if we can get a better inside pass rush, a more consistent inside rush, a dominant inside rusher, you’d see the best of this guy. Some of the plays he’s disrupted that he hasn’t gotten credit for are really exciting for us to think what could happen. So Mario Edwards, if you’re listening out there, if we can get that inside rush going, that’s what Warren Sapp did for Simian Rice. If it’s difficult for the quarterback to step up, these great pass rushers could have a feast. Mack is certainly a centerpiece of our football team, and we’d like to get a better inside rush for him to be even better.”