New Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden met with the media at the NFL Combine on Wednesday and was, as always, a reporter’s dream. He cracked jokes, answered questions honestly, and made no attempt to hide what he’s about: old-school football.
After 10 seasons away from the league, Gruden told reporters he’s trying to wind the clock back. Way, way back.
“I’m trying to throw the game back to 1998,” Gruden said. “There’s a stack of analytical data ... that people don’t even know how to read. 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 GPSes and all the modern technology. I will certainly have some people that are professional that can help me from that regard. 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.”
Gruden later said incorporating analytics isn’t that different than his first NFL job as an offensive quality control coach for the 49ers. In that position he had to report on the team’s tendencies and use data to avoid being predictable.
So, maybe he’s joking? A little? It’s hard to tell.
The Gruden analytics stuff is going sort of viral. Don’t just read the quote. Watch the press conference. I don’t think he was being fully serious. Maybe. He’s weird.— Dan Kadar (@MockingTheDraft) February 28, 2018
Gruden definitely wasn’t kidding, though, when he said he wants to see a lot more beef in the Raiders’ rushing attack.
“I would like to have a fullback,” Gruden said. “They’re a dying breed in football. I think it gives your offense a lot of deception.”
It’s not necessarily a bad idea. The league has shifted away from the fullback position in favor of speed and more spread out offensive concepts. But that has meant more defensive backs on the field who are susceptible to getting run over.
That’s the kind of football Gruden loves.
“I sit down and watch Wisconsin, and I feel like I’m breathing fresh air again.”
It should come as no surprise Gruden loves fullbacks. He spent five seasons in Tampa Bay with Mike Alstott, a 6’1, 248-pound rock golem who probably lives in Gruden’s dreams now.
Finding another Alstott won’t be easy, but looking for a fullback to help the Raiders’ rushing offense might not be a terrible idea. But give the GPS a shot, Coach. They’re not as bad as you think.