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From the bleachers
In Defense Of Jon Gruden |
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9/28/18 7:54 PM
Jon Gruden is blessed with a fabulous situation as head coach and de facto personell czar in Oakland. Gruden received a ten year $100 million dollar backloaded (tax purposes) contract. That contract was given to him by an owner that Gruden wisely cultivated a positive relationship with during his successful first tenure in East Bay.
He begins his 2.0 venture with losses in each of his first three games back. The trade of high impact pass rusher Khalil Mack to the Bears has been widely criticized.
But trading Mack was essential to the Raiders having a manageable salary cap and they will receive first round draft picks from the Bears in 2019 and 2020.
Gruden, like many other high profile sportsmen desires total control of personnel matters and wants a team that is molded in his image.
However, it can be safely said that the modern template for organizational success is in separating powers. Too much say in personnel matters by the head coach can lead to decisions that are made too hastily or in ill temperament. Or without wise consultation.
But Jon Gruden is the right guy to be a Raider. He's still a high energy guy. He's got Raider attitute. He's connected to the team's history, as a guy who was hired by Al Davis. He still understands the game well, and unlike some decorated coaches of the past who come back after much time out, Gruden is content to patiently rebuild.
Building a team that will be ready to win in the post-Brady era is good planning. Brady may hang 'em up in one, two, or perhaps three years hence. At which time Gruden's revamped Las Vegas Raiders will be ready to exact a measure of revenge on the Patriots for their "tuck rule" playoff victory over Gruden's Raiders 17 years ago.
An example of the attitude I like in Gruden is in recent comments he made on the subject of the presence of the Oakland Coliseum's dirt infield. The last MLB/NFL shared stadium in existence gives September-October football games a truly retro look.
It reminds me of Sundays past. Those late afternoon games on the West Coast with Charlie Jones announcing on NBC. Raiders-Chargers. Or many other matchups featuring multipurpose stadiums around the league, where the receiver makes a catch for 17 yards and a cloud of dust. Or the kicker booting a field goal by kicking a ball on dirt near second base.
"Jon Gruden loves playing on the dirt infield" says the headlines from one of the threads on Mike Florio's Pro Football Talk website.
"I would make the dirt permanent if I had anything to do with it...I'm happy with the dirt. I like old school football", said Gruden.
A refreshingly far cry from what foolish Jack Del Rio said one year ago at this time.
Del Rio called it "embarrassing" to play on that "cinderblock" (dirt infield).
Jack was looking forward to coaching the Raiders in Vegas, where his team could play on an "all grass" field. But Jack can look forward to never head coaching an NFL team again. Coaches and managers should never publicly ridicule the playing conditions of their home field. They should use the quirks and elements in their favor.
Chucky knows that.
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