Jordan Murph for Sports Illustrated
By Conor Orr
August 06, 2018

Raiders fans may have gotten a new Jon Gruden offense, but it seems like they’ve gotten the same old head coach when it comes to his approach in the locker room.

Earlier in the offseason, I interviewed a handful of Buccaneers from Gruden’s Tampa Bay days and asked them about their best and worst experiences with the Super Bowl winning coach.

One of the main gripes? His utilization of press conferences to create a damaging narrative about a player who isn’t falling into line. You can read the piece here.

Since that story posted, Gruden has thrown some shade at Khalil Mack and, on Saturday, called out receiver Martavis Bryant. Before that, he sent a message to the locker room by cutting fun-loving punter (and 2016 second-team All-Pro) Marquette King.

While this toes the line of standard operating procedure for an NFL head coach, it represents one of the greatest contradictions in Gruden’s personal philosophy. He loves veteran-heavy teams because they can self-police and contribute to an all-football, no-nonsense atmosphere. But he also can’t help himself when the opportunity arises to take a public potshot at players who, he feels, need a little kick in the rear.

The problem? That doesn’t always fly for the over-25 crowd, because many veterans feel they’ve figured out how to survive to this point without someone crawling up their backside.

I think Gruden’s return to the NFL has been one of the most underreported football storylines of the offseason. Rarely do we see a hardened, old-school disciplinarian reinserted into the league after so much time away. Success in Oakland and Las Vegas could mean a dramatic shift for owners looking to replace their current options. Failure could mean harder leaning toward the Kyle Shanahan-Sean McVay school, where young minds connect with increasingly young talent. It’s true that McVay is a Gruden disciple, but he seems to be going about his business in a much different way.

Contractually, the coach has 10 years to figure this thing out. Will he get that long if it turns sour right away?

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NOW ON THE MMQB: A night with Terrell Owens as he celebrated the Hall of Fame induction away from Canton…A training camp postcard from Latrobe, Pa … Andy Benoit’s season preview series rolls on with the Chicago Bears.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: Robert Klemko on Ray Lewis and the bubble that has sheltered himJohnny Manziel’s CFL debut … Is Case Keenum the answer in Denver? And be sure to check in regularly with our Training Camp Postcards.


1. John Dorsey continues his assault on all Browns players who weren’t drafted by him. In a bit of a late night stunner, the Browns dealt former first-round wideout Corey Coleman to the Bills.

2. Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson both get hefty contract extensions, and will be in Philadelphia for the long haul.

3. Michael David Smith with a nice breakdown of what Randy Moss’s tie meant at his Hall of Fame induction.

4. Speaking of Roseman, an interesting session he did at Wharton’s business school during an analytics conference.

5. Pro Football Focus helps you decide between Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson in your fantasy league.

6. The Ringer: It’s time for the Cowboys to just make the Earl Thomas trade already.

7. Are you ready for a Blake Bortles comeback feature?

8. David Bakhtiari will probably be OK for the Packers’ season opener.

9. The Texans are taking it easy with Jadeveon Clowney.

10. A fascinating Dak Prescott mural has gone up in Dallas that really makes one think about the position Jerry Jones is putting his quarterback in.


This is not a political newsletter, but it is a newsletter powered by hardworking journalists working overtime to provide readers with the truth on their favorite teams and players. None, that I know of, are enemies of the state.

For the foreseeable future, instead of a pithy joke or Grateful Dead song, I’m going to use this ending space to thank a few random journalists for all that they have been doing on a daily basis. If you’re a consumer of news at the local or national level, I encourage you to reach out to a reporter who helped inform you today and send them a note. It will mean more to them than you’ll ever know.

So for Monday, a few reporters close to my heart: Thank you, Clayton Over, for covering so diligently my hometown for the wonderful Times-Tribune of Scranton. Thank you, Chris Kelly, for being a total badass who holds powerful people in my hometown accountable. Your work over the last few decades means more to me than you’ll ever know. Thank you, AHHS 2006 classmate Stacy Lange for your endless hustle to make WNEP one of the country’s best local newscasts.

I feel good knowing the future of a great city is in your collective hands.

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