How many times have you wished that you could ask the head coach or general manager of your favorite team a question or two?
Well, that’s exactly what a group of Oakland Raiders season ticket members and Las Vegas PSL holders had the chance to do Wednesday evening, as
Head Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Reggie McKenzie held an exclusive conference call.
Moderated by Lincoln Kennedy, Gruden and McKenzie answered a bunch of questions during the hour-long call; let’s take a look at some of the highlights.
Gruden said you should expect to see a lot of Amari Cooper in the 2018 Raiders offense.
Gruden: “That’s been one of our number one objectives, is to make No. 89 the main vain of our pass offense. We think he’s entering the prime of his career, and we think we’ve surrounded him with a couple of other great receivers, Martavis Bryant, who came over from Pittsburgh, can really rip the top off of a defense, and Jordy Nelson is, as you know, a proven commodity in this league, but if “Coop” can get healthy, and stay healthy, we expect big things from him. He’s going to be the main target I think in a lot of our passes.”
Yes, Gruden is old school, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be embracing certain, new technologies.
Gruden: “I’m old school, but that doesn’t mean I’m a fool. We’re going to use the data at our discretion. We’re going to use it in terms of tendencies, and in terms of our technology, and how we put our game plans together. We’re going to use technology for what it is, as a tool to help us win the game, but you will see some old school elements. You will see a fullback. You might even see a blocking tight end, and I don’t know why we wouldn’t have those things if we’re planning on handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch. You need these components to feature “The Beast,” and that’s what we’re doing to do.”
Reggie McKenzie’s son was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs this year, but don’t get it twisted, there will be no love lost when the AFC West rivals go head to head.
McKenzie: “Even though it’s my boy, it’s still Raiders versus Chiefs on that day. I’m happy and proud of him at this point, but on game day, it is what it is. That rivalry will never end, and he knows that. He’s being indoctrinated in Kansas City, in that regard. It was great seeing him get drafted, but it’s going to fun when we play them – that’s for sure.”
McKenzie also gave an update on the team’s recent additions to the linebacking corps.
McKenzie: “Let me tell you something, we’ve added a lot of linebackers this year, both veteran, and we added a few young guys too. We definitely got more athletic. We’ve gotten more experience. We got a guy from Kansas City by the name of D.J. [Derrick Johnson]; this guy
is going to help our defense tremendously with the experience that he has, and the skills that he has. He’s definitely a guy that can help us in pass defense.”
The Raiders acquired quarterback Christian Hackenberg earlier this week, and Gruden gave an assessment of the team’s newest signal-caller.
“We’re looking for players. We’re looking to get better every day, and Christian Hackenberg was available. He was a second-round pick. He did some really encouraging things at Penn State. He had some ups and downs. We’re going to look at him, and we’re going to make it very competitive to see who Derek Carr’s backup is.”
Gruden also spoke about the future of the young Raiders specialists.
Gruden: “When you talk about Eddy Piñeiro, he hasn’t missed a field goal. We watched him kick today and he made every one. The holder is Johnny Townsend, by the way who was also a Florida Gator punter who held for him [Piñeiro] in college. We felt Eddy was so good we were going to draft him in the seventh round, that’s how much we thought of this kid, and we paid him a lot of money to make sure we were going to get him as an undrafted free agent. He and Tavecchio are going to have a great battle in training camp, but when you go back to the holder, the cool thing is we do have Johnny Townsend who’s an experience holder, and has a lot of experience holding for Piñeiro, which I think is going to help him tremendously.”