Jon Gruden on Raiders Using Analytics: I'm Trying to Throw Back the Game to 1998

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2018

ALAMEDA, CA - JANUARY 09:  Oakland Raiders new head coach Jon Gruden speaks during a news conference at Oakland Raiders headquarters on January 9, 2018 in Alameda, California. Jon Gruden has returned to the Oakland Raiders after leaving the team in 2001.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said Wednesday there will be a place for analytics within the organization, but he won't play a direct role in its use.

Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal passed along comments Gruden made at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis about advanced stats and player-tracking systems.

"Man, I'm trying to throw back the game to 1998," he said, adding: "I still think doing things the old-fashioned way [is the right way.]"

Gruden is back with the Raiders after previously leading the coaching staff from 1998 through 2001. He was then traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a large haul of draft picks and cash before leading the Bucs to a 48-21 Super Bowl XXXVII victory over the Raiders during his first season in charge.

The 54-year-old Ohio native has worked for ESPN as a Monday Night Football commentator and NFL draft analyst since being fired by Tampa after the 2008 season.

He's made it clear he plans to bring an old-school approach to the sidelines. He told S.L. Price of Sports Illustrated he's on a "mission to save football," expressing frustration with rule changes that limit his offseason time with players and prevent extending practice sessions, among other things.

"I wasn't worth a damn, but I was on a team, I had to [report] by seven o'clock," Gruden said of his playing days. "I had to run through the line, not to it; my coach made me do it right. And I hated it at times. But if it wasn't for football, I wouldn't have any of these benefits. These geniuses tell you, 'It's a dangerous game, we shouldn't play, you can [learn the same things] in drama class.' I say bulls--t."

Gruden explained he understands his approach will yield doubters, and those will only grow louder following his comments Wednesday about analytics, but he's prepared for the backlash.

"So, you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to come back and put it all on me," he told Price. "Everybody's going to want to kick my ass, step on me. They can't wait to talk about what a dumbass I am, and how s--tty I was to start with. How 'overrated' I am. I hear it all. I know it's going to happen. And I'm like: Come on!"

While Gruden may be hesitant to embrace the numbers, it's important to remember one of the biggest stories of the Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl run was their use of analytics, and it helped them win their first championship since 1960.


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