Inside the Raiders: Old-school Jon Gruden looks to take it straight at Chiefs

The first time Jon Gruden and Andy Reid were head coaches on opposite sidelines was in 2001. Gruden was in his fourth year as head coach of the Raiders. Reid, who worked with Gruden on Mike Holmgren’s staff with the Green Bay Packers, was in his third year with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Both teams would win their respective divisions and go to the playoffs, and Gruden and Reid were considered among the brightest young offensive minds in the NFL.

Even then Gruden was miscast as a proponent of the “West Coast offense,” which was the foundation of the system Holmgren imported from the 49ers and ran in Green Bay. Gruden, borrowed heavily from the offense, but would laugh at the connection, noting his use of extra tight ends and a smash-mouth running game.

“You know how many plays we use three tight ends?,” Gruden said at the time. “If that’s West Coast, I’m Jimmy Carter.”

The Raiders beat the Eagles at Veteran’s Stadium 20-10. Playing without the injured Tyrone Wheatley, the Raiders ran the ball 47 times for 202 yards and kept the ball for 40:09. The Eagles and their talented young quarterback Donovan McNabb had the ball for all of 19:51.

So it comes as no surprise to Reid, the Chiefs head coach since 2013, that the Raiders’ current three-game winning streak has come with 112 carries, 572 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

“Jon trusts it and he’s going to call it,” Reid said. “He’s always had a good running game.”

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Top NFL running back tandems:

Dalvin Cook-Alexander Mattison, Vikings 295-1,280
Derrick Henry-Jeremy McNichols, Titans 227-1,119
Kareem Hunt-Nick Chubb, Browns 210-1,094
Josh Jacobs-Devontae Booker, Raiders 231-1,004 #Raiders

— Jerry McDonald (@Jerrymcd) November 20, 2020

ESPN cast Gruden in its “Gruden’s QB Camp” show because it highlighted football’s glamour role. Gruden has spent his adult life teaching the position. But as the pre-teen son of a running backs coach in Sandusky, Ohio, Gruden wore a Cleveland Browns jersey with Leroy Kelly’s No. 44. Unless the score dictates otherwise, he is equally committed to run and pass. In what has become a pass-first league, the Raiders have run the ball 49.9 percent of the time, the highest percentage in the NFL.

Given that the Raiders will spend the week of practice without 10 defensive players on the COVID-19 reserve list, running the ball and maintaining possession will be a major factor if they hope to sweep the Chiefs and climb within a game of first place in the AFC West.

The Raiders are fourth n the NFL with 282 carries and 1,282 yards, fifth in rushing attempts and fourth in rushing first downs with 78. And they’re doing it the old fashioned way, with a quarterback in Derek Carr who has made more plays with his feet but still has only 118 yards on 27 carries.

Lead back Josh Jacobs is the NFL’s fourth leading rusher with 700 …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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