He didn’t walk the halls of the Indianapolis Convention Center at 88 mph. He, almost certainly, didn’t arrive at the NFL scouting combine via DeLorean. But new — and old — Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden made it clear Wednesday that he wanted to go back in time.
Asked about GPS data that will soon be available to all NFL teams, Gruden channeled his inner Marty McFly.
“Man, I'm trying to throw the game back to 1998,” he said. “You know, really as a broadcaster, I went around and observed every team, asked a lot of questions, took a look at the facilities, how they're doing business. There's a stack of analytic data … people don't even know how to read it. It's one thing to have the data … it's another thing to know how to read the damn thing. So, I'm not going to rely on GPSs and all the modern technology.”
Gruden’s analytics rant came with only the slightest of caveats.
“I will certainly have some people that are professional that can help me from that regard,” he said. “But I still think doing things the old-fashioned way is a good way, and we're going to try to lean the needle that way a little bit.”
The old-fashioned way worked for Gruden and the Raiders before: He won nearly 60% of his games during a four-year span, from 1998 to 2001.
Speaking from a podium Wednesday, Gruden was the combination of critical and enthusiastic that helped make him a successful broadcaster with ESPN for “Monday Night Football” for close to a decade.
He bemoaned rules prohibiting offseason contact between coaches and players, an impediment, he said, in getting to know and make decisions about his new roster.
“I don't know these guys. I've never coached them,” Gruden said. “I never met half of them. So, that's been very, very difficult for me and I've been emotional about it at times.”
Gruden knows it can’t be 1998 again. But he said seasoned assistants such as offensive coordinator Greg Olson and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will help him develop the perfect hybrid between the past and the present.
“I mean, you obviously have to change a little bit,” Gruden said. “But I think the roots, the foundation of what I know, is going to stay in place.”
See ya, Nick Sirianni
When it was Josh McDaniels who was set to leave the New England Patriots to become coach of the Indianapolis Colts, the Chargers probably felt safe. When McDaniels bailed and Frank Reich got the job, they knew they were in trouble.
Reich, who coached quarterbacks for one season before becoming the Chargers’ offensive coordinator for two seasons, had worked with Nick Sirianni.
Sirianni, despite being in the Chargers organization since 2013, was headed out of town as soon as Reich got the job, joining his staff as the Colts’ offensive coordinator.
“We worked for three years together in San Diego, and it didn’t take me long during that tenure there that if I ever had this opportunity, he’d be the guy I’d want to be my coordinator,” Reich said. “He’s extremely intelligent, very energetic, very passionate … a great teacher, very systematic in his thinking.
“And the way we see the passing game, the way we thing about offensive football is very similar.”
Phil McGeoghan replaced Sirianni as the Chargers’ receivers coach.
The blockbuster 2016 pre-draft trade between the Rams and the Tennessee Titans worked out pretty well for the Rams.
They traded up 14 spots for the first pick in that year’s draft and selected quarterback Jared Goff.
After struggling as a rookie, Goff blossomed last season into a top-10 passer under first-year coach Sean McVay, and he led the Rams to a division title and their first playoff appearance since 2004.
The Titans also benefited from the deal.
In 2016, they used draft picks acquired from the Rams to select offensive tackle Jack Conklin in the first round and nose tackle Austin Johnson and running back Derrick Henry in the second round. Last year, they selected receiver Corey Davis with the fifth overall pick, and tight end Jonnu Smith in the third round with a compensatory pick.
The Titans advanced to an AFC divisional-round playoff game before losing to the New England Patriots.
Titans general manager Jon Robinson said he would make the trade again.
“I said it before when we made the trade: We were more than one player away,” he said. “And we were able to acquire draft currency and add a lot of pieces to what I thought was a team void of some players and void of some depth. And I think the dividends have shown over the last two seasons with the way we have improved and the type of locker room now and the type of culture that we have.
“At the end of the day, that’s how you want it. You want it to work out for both sides. I am sure they’re glad they made the trade and we are as well.”