The Pioneer

Raiders go old school with Jon Gruden hire

Matthew Carrera,
Contributor

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Jon Gruden is the coach the Oakland Raiders have long waited for to return and lead them back to success. Since joining the team in January, he’s been making headlines with his comments. That’s the thing with Gruden, he’s a great coach and he’ll also give the media something to write about.

At the NFL Scouting Combine on Feb 28, Gruden was asked about today’s NFL and how coaches rely heavily on analytics. Gruden does not seem to be a huge fan of them because he said he is trying to throw the game all the way back to 1998. Gruden believes that the coaching strategies and techniques he used back in 1998 which eventually led him to playoff success and a Superbowl berth in 2002 will still work in today’s NFL and lead him to similar success.

“Are you talking about the analytics? All the modern technology? I am trying to throw the game back to 1998,” Gruden said at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Gruden is always making headlines with his interviews and he delivers yet again. But this time around he is getting pounded by media around the country for what he said. The idea of trying to coach like he did back in 1998 is a recipe for failure if he tries to emulate that style of playing and coaching in today’s NFL which is now 20 years later.

“Really, as a broadcaster, I went around and tried to observe every team. Asked a lot of questions. Took a look at the facilities, how they’re doing business. There’s a stack of analytical da-ta, or day-ta, however you want to say that word, that people don’t even know how to read it. It’s one thing to have da-ta, or day-ta. It’s another thing to know how to read the damn thing,” Gruden said at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Just the idea alone of trying to do something the way it was done 20 years ago is ludicrous and is almost destined for failure. Imagine a teacher trying to teach the way they taught in 1998. It would be asinine given all the technology we have now; take advantage of the new advancements this world has made and use them to your advantage and make your life a little easier. Pen and paper is outdated.

“So I am not going to rely on GPSes and all the modern technology. I will 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. We are going to try to lean the needle that way a little bit.”  Gruden said at NFL Scouting Combine.

Gruden’s idea of coaching like it’s 1998 sounds all nice and good since that is when he was a coach and they were winning, but in reality, this is a bad idea. The game has evolved significantly in the way players play the game and what strategies teams use. The defensive schemes and offensive schemes that a lot of teams used in 1998 are gone now; this is a new game. If Gruden sticks to his word, he won’t last that long.

The league is pro offense now and is a pass-happy league, it will be a challenge if Gruden uses the same offensive strategies he used back in 1998 in today’s game. The fullback position is almost extinct, with the exception that a few teams use it, but Gruden has said that he wants to bring the fullback position back to life and use it in his offense.

Defense in today’s league is at a huge disadvantage. The rules favor the offense so much that it’s hard to play tough defense in today’s league. Any hard hit will immediately get flagged so a lot of players don’t even try to hit hard no more due to the fact that they’re worried about getting flagged and potentially fined by the league if the hit were too egregious. So there is virtually no way Gruden can play defense like he did back in 1998, or else he will be getting flagged all game.

Analytics play a huge role in today’s NFL. Almost every team has an analytics department where they at least get information on players and teams. Some teams might not use analytics as much as other teams, but nonetheless, all teams use analytics in some sense and apply it to there game plan and game strategies.

The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has said that he uses analytics a lot and it’s a big part on how they operate. He said that during games he has two analytics guys in his headset talking to him during certain situations advising him on what to do during certain situations and what the percentage is that what plays will succeed or fail. So Gruden might want to take some notes from the Super Bowl champions.

Gruden has to adjust to the new NFL or else he will fail as the head coach of the Raiders. He has to be at least willing to evolve and change some of his techniques to avoid losing and ultimately being fired.

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