On Friday the Los Angeles Raiders arrived, stretched, had a quick walk through and promptly held a press conference. Members of the press were in attendance and I was sent as the representative for Ninety Ninety Yards. In the first of several posts today I’ll recount the opinions of the Raiders coaches and players about the upcoming game. Which brings me to..
Gruden was asked first about the team’s decision to do their game preparation in California and the arrive on Friday. He said that the team has researched with previous NFL visitors to London and that they felt it was the optimum time to arrive. He stated that the Raiders “Have plenty of time to acclimate ourselves. We’ve got out our players loosening up right now, we’ll get a great night’s sleep and we’ll be perfectly acclimated to play our best football”.
Coach said he missed ESPN’s quarterback camp show and that it “Was a great time in my life. To spend time with different quarterbacks and was why I came back to coaching honestly. That experience every year made me realise how I miss being around the team, being around a quarterback, competing daily. That show really had a lot to do with me coming back”. Coach mentioned that he was lucky to work with young quarterbacks like Andrew Luck and current Raiders starter Derek Carr. Interestingly, he reminded us the AJ McCarron, signed as a back up in pre season, was also on the show. Clearly not the desperate move many assumed. However, coach was not keen on the possibility of the team appearing on Hard Knocks, stating that “My TV days are over”.
On ex-Seahawk Marshawn Lynch and his preparations this week going into the game. “In a lot of ways he’s the heart and soul of the Raiders right now. He’s still running with that incredible physicality. He’s been durable, he’s practiced every day and behind the scenes he’s one of our leaders. He’s a little bit misunderstood by a lot of people but believe me, if you were coaching a football team he’d be one of the first guys you’d want on your team. Coach went on to say that he should probably get Lynch the ball more, and that the team has a lot of guys that deserve to see the ball more.
Talking about offense in general Gruden said, “We need to get the ball more, take care of the ball better on offense. We’ve done some good things offensively, but good is not good enough. We need to start playing great offensively. We need to see more of Lynch, a little bit more of the ball going across the goal line. That’s the big thing.
Coach likes the International Series, likes to showcase football and the NFL product. With the obligatory UK franchise question coach said he’d be in favour of seeing a team here and that he’d like to see the game expand. He stated that now defunct World League and NFL Europe had been great not only for developing the game overseas but also for developing players.
I asked coach how he was developing his quarterbacks and their relationships with receivers given the restrictions on practice time “You’ve got to be creative. You’ve got to be very creative. The hard part is not so much the starting quarterback, it’s developing your second string quarterback, your third string quarterback and different phases of your offense that you’re way behind. I Always was told that repetition is the mother of learning and if you decrease the reps., learning is not quite what it was. So I don’t like the restrictions but you have to adapt and that’s what I’m doing”.
Gruden was asked his thoughts on the Seahawks, his opponents today. “That all starts with the quarterback. You’ve got to defend the play that Seattle calls and then you’ve got to defend the one that Russell Wilson makes. He gets out of trouble, he’s a magnificent playmaker. With Baldwin healthy, Lockett can still burn you in a lot of creative ways they’re dangerous on offense and they can run the ball”.
“Defensively they’re using a lot of new people with without Earl Thomas and KJ Wright, some of the recognisable Seahawks but there are some young guys taking advantage of their opportunities. And they’ve got a kicker that I know extremely well, Sebastian Janikowski. I can’t wait to see him as well”.
Asked about whether having a large proportion of veterans on the team coach said “Winning one game is no fun”. Gruden committed to the Raiders in a long term deal and establishing a winning program long term was clearly on his mind with moves like the trade of Kahlil Mack. Coach hinted that next year he’ll have in place the veterans for who are laying the foundations this season. They’re establishing “ How we want to prepare, how we want to play, how we want to practice and how we want to compete.”
Check back later in the day for more, including the views of Jordy Nelson and Derek Carr.