Chucky's in Love: Jon Gruden Sounds Off on New Orleans Saints
Think of him as the modern day "Dandy" Don Meredith, the former Monday Night Football color analyst, minus the cornpone and bullshit.
Jon Gruden raised eyebrows among the nation's sports media elite last year when he predicted the New Orleans Saints would win the Super Bowl.
The media "bigfoots" chuckled to themselves: "That's just Chuck being Chucky."
Having competed against the Saints twice a year before his Tampa Bay exit,
Gruden knew just how dangerous the Saints could be. He's close to Sean Payton and he knows how lethal Drew Brees is, and he knew Gregg Williams would infuse a lot of energy into a moribund defense.
As for 2010, Gruden told WWL Radio Friday night that he likes the Saints chances for a "two-peat."
Gruden on Saints Super Bowl Repeat: A Lot of
On a possible Saints repeat as Super Bowl champions, Gruden told WWL's Bobby Hebert on Friday night his advice to the Saints is to use recent history as a guide:
"Rely on your history. They know how to get to the Super Bowl. They know how to win the Super Bowl. And, they've got to do what they did last year which is come out here and work and work to get better everyday."
"I expect they're going to be better on defense. They are in year two in Gregg Williams' system, and as long as Drew Brees and this offense stays together, I think there will be a lot of "Who Dat" going on in this nation."
Gruden on Picking the Saints to Win the Super Bowl
As for his bold prediction at the beginning of 2009 that the New Orleans Saints would win the Super Bowl, Gruden told WWL Radio:
"I felt like I knew the Saints having competed against them twice a year, and I still felt like the New Orleans Saints were the best team on our [Tampa Bay] schedule when I was coaching the Buccaneers. And when you add Darren Sharper and Jabari Greer and Gregg Williams and his attack [defense], and you have Sean Payton and Drew Brees putting up these kinds of [offensive] numbers, I just knew that they were going to be a real handful and I look pretty good on that prediction."
Gruden on the Saints Beating the Summer Heat
Gruden told WWL's Bobby Hebert that he's not old school when it comes to avoiding those rising summer temperatures and has no problems with the Saints practicing indoors:
"If you're going to play in a swamp, practice in a swamp. The Saints, the last time I checked, they play in a dome so they're practicing in a dome. They're using domes in Dallas. They're using them in Miami. That's just the way life is but practices are very good here (New Orleans.) The concentration level is high and you sense what an advantage it is to the body."
"You've got to keep those guys alive physically throughout the length of training camp and I think that this [indoor practice facility] is a huge asset to the Saints."
Gruden Likes Saints Rookie TE Jimmy Graham of Miami
Asked by WWL Radio about just how good this 2010 version of the New Orleans Saints is, Gruden was effusive in his praise:
"Well, I saw [defensive end] Jimmy Wilkerson here, a guy I coached in Tampa, who can rush the passer as a defensive tackle or on the edge. I saw [former Chicago Bears defensive end] Alex Brown here today."
"I don't know who this [rookie tight end Jimmy] Graham is, the tight end they drafted from Miami, but Bobby [Hebert] could step in here today and rip a few down the seam to him."
"They've got the [running] backs that are all different and unique. The offense will be better. [Saints left tackle Jermon] Bushrod is no longer a rookie, really playing for his first year. You've got [USC rookie left tackle] Charles Brown in here to give them some depth."
"How aren't they [the Saints] better?" Gruden asks rhetorically.
"How aren't they better going into year two? I think it's going to be interesting to see, but I like what I see."
Gruden on Whether Brees is the Best QB
WWL's Bobby Hebert asked Gruden if he considers Drew Brees the NFL's best quarterback.
"He's way up at the top," said Gruden. "I don't want to make anybody mad because I'm an analyst [Monday Night Football.] I've got to do this full-time, but last I'd checked, he [Brees] beat Eli Manning. He beat Peyton Manning when all the chips were on the table. He beat Tom Brady."
"What do you want the guy to do?" asks Gruden, expressing the same frustration that Saints fans feel for the lack of national respect their QB gets.
Adds Gruden: "Two years ago, he threw for 5,000 yards. He doesn't have the prototypical size but I guarantee you this - when you can complete 70 percent of your passes in this league and get the kind of results that he's sustained in the last three or four years , he's amazing! I'd love to coach this guy."