The Winter Report: Breakfast with Gruden

Scott Winter
Jon Gruden

Breakfast with Jon Gruden was on the docket for our own Scott Winter at the NFL Owners Meeting in Orlando. Gruden covered a wide range of topics in the hour-plus conversation with reporters today.

ORLANDO, Fla. — After a few days, and lots of hours scanning the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Grand Lakes Orlando, you start to lose track of the time and the day of the week. The NFL Owners Meeting isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. So far, I had not had a chance to talk to the Belle of the Ball – Oakland Raiders new Head Coach Jon Gruden.

Much in need of a boost, I rolled into the AFC/NFC Coach’s Breakfast with Gruden looking forward to what the Raiders new/old coach had to say. With a bigger-than-life personality, and an intensity that is palpable, it certainly would give us all a boost not even a shot of espresso could.

Call it the Gruden Presence.

Gruden sat down with us for a wide-ranging but focused 80-minute conversation this morning in Orlando. The chosen subject: The Gruden Method.

There is a lot of unknowns right now…we need to see where [these guys] are fast. If they are not ready to roll on April 9th, there is going to be a lot of competition for them coming in.Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden

Gruden addressed the entire spectrum: from the Al Davis days, to the current roster, to his return to coaching, and his philosophy. He gave his thoughts on Colin Kaepernick, his disdain for instant replay, and even his critics.

While nostalgia-heavy, it was a breath of fresh air. It was information overload, to be honest, and too much for just one column. I even asked him what he missed most about late Raiders owner Al Davis not being there this time around.

jon gruden oakland raiders

Gruden talked about Al Davis and how he missed his presence in the Raiders organization.

“I miss his presence, If you were never around him, you won’t know what I am talking about,” Gruden said. “But he had a presence. He was like no other owner. He understood plays and he was Coach of the Year. He could install schemes and play packages. I miss his presence.”

Certainly, Gruden’s own presence can be attributed to what he learned from his former boss and mentor.

Today, I focus on Gruden’s vision of what this Raiders should look like and the coach’s plan to get the team back to winning consistently.

The Gruden Method.

I asked Gruden what his approach will be with the roster, and especially those drafted in the past few years, to step up and be better leaders and better players. It was something he noted at the NFL Combine.

“Well, it starts with the coaching staff,” Gruden, who believes accountability is tantamount, said. “I mean you gotta hire the right coaches, that can, not only convey the message, but can teach. Our last three draft classes…we got to get more production from those guys. It’s one of the reasons we were so [busy] in free agency.

I miss his presence, if you were never around him, you won’t know what I am talking about. But he had a presence. He was like no other owner, he understood plays and he was Coach of the Year. He could install schemes and play packages.  – Gruden on the Raiders late owner Al Davis

“There is a lot of unknowns right now…we need to see where [these guys] are fast. If they are not ready to roll on April 9th, there is going to be a lot of competition for them coming in. These young guys, well you cannot save a bad idea [draft choice] forever, and I think that’s the message we’re going to stick to, and we’re interested to see where some of our young players are.”

If you pick apart The Gruden Method, it’s pretty straightforward: get great coaches who teach and create competition. If that does not work, and the message does not sink in to a player, then the Raiders will move on – and quickly. Shape up or ship out. No one is safe on this roster if they don’t get with the program.

That sounds like vintage Al Davis to me.

It’s no wonder that current Raiders owner Mark Davis has gone on record saying he no longer has to worry about the “football side.” And, while his father’s presence is certainly missed, there is still a dominant presence with the Silver and Black.

The presence of Jon Gruden.