Gruden with a Grain of Salt

J Burroughs
jon gruden senior bowl raiders kyler murray

J Burroughs is back and this time he’s chuckling at everyone for putting too much stock in press conference banter from Raiders coach Jon Gruden at this week’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

The Urban Dictionary defines trolling in the context of online harassment or targeted baiting. As someone who is new to Twitter, but not to trolling in gaming forums or football discussion boards, I find it hilarious that many of us who cover the Raiders hang on every word Jon Gruden spits out. That’s not an insult to the coach, it’s just it’s so patently obvious to some of us who are more woke that he’s trolling everyone.

Go back to the beginning of the 2018 season. Gruden said he wanted Khalil Mack in camp. He said one of the reasons he came back to coaching was to coach “number 52.” We all know how that ended up.

Of course, there were multiple times this happened throughout the course of the year and some framed it as Gruden lying and others framed it as Gruden had “lost touch” with the game. Both were wrong, of course.

jon gruden kyler murray Raiders Oklahoma senior bowl

Just because Gruden acknowledge the talent of Kyler Murray doesn’t mean he’s going to draft him. Or does it?

Fast forward to this week in Mobile, Alabama, where the Raiders coaching staff is camped out ready to coach the North team in the Senior Bowl. At the first press conference, Gruden was asked about Klyer Murray.

“I used to think that a lot, until I saw Drew Brees twice a year in Tampa, then I met Russell Wilson coming out of N.C. State, and now I’m watching this kid, (Kyler) Murray, coming out of Oklahoma and I’m putting away all the prototypes I once had,” Gruden said. “I used to have a prototype for hand size, height, arm strength, all that stuff.”

That simple (and astute) observation led some members of the media corps, and some in Raider Nation, to take it as a signal Gruden could draft Murray in the first round. -Derek Carr be damned. But despite his comment – just like his comment on Mack – Gruden can’t be taken at face value all the time and Raider Nation must not jump wild conclusions.

For those of you not familiar with the Senior Bowl and how the NFL Draft works, coaches are always going to use words to create misdirections. Gruden (and other coaches, GMs, and scouts in Mobiel this week) doesn’t want to tip his hand to the rest of the league so he won’t. He’ll talk about specific players and he may have an affinity for them. Or he may not. Gruden could talk up a guy as a strategic move to help their draft aspirations.

And that’s my point people. Don’t read too much into anything that is said between now and draft day by Gruden or new general manager Mike Mayock.

At this point in Gruden’s return to the Raiders, anything is possible. I really don’t believe he will draft Murray or any quarterback in the first round. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he could nab Murray. The Raiders have a ton of needs on both sides of the ball. I’m firmly in the Carr corner and believe he’ll be just fine and can lead this team to the promised land. But that doesn’t mean Gruden won’t take a quarterback. And that includes Murray.

We can spend time (and space here) going back and forth about what might happen and who the Raiders may take with their first three picks in the first round down in Nashville in April. The truth is, Gruden won’t let on or give us any clues. We might think we’re getting him but the man is way too savvy to make those types of mistakes.

As usual, half of Raider Nation will hate the first few picks and half will love them. That’s Raiders fandom. It’s a love and self-hate coin flip some times. Just don’t hang on Gruden’s words the next few months. You’ll just create more angst and worry that you don’t really need.

You feel me?

When the 2018 season turned into a disaster early, many reaffirmed: In Gruden We Trust. If you believe Chucky has what it takes, then sit back and enjoy the ride.

And don’t read too much into what he says between now and April.