Jon Gruden started his first day with the whole team as coach greeting the media in a friendly manner. Walking onto the podium, Gruden said, “I gotta new place for you, you better google it, it’s called Forbes Mill,” to which one of the media members responded talking to another guy in the media, “Don’t put that out there.” Gruden, setting the tone for the season and showing he wouldn’t be pushed around looked back at the guy and said, “Put it out there.”
Graduation was really the big topic of the press conference, as all three podium players Gabe Jackson, Bruce Irvin, and Amari Cooper went back to school to finish up their degrees. Gruden spoke on this saying how finishing would be one of the key focuses for the Raiders this season, “Finishing the game, finishing the drive, finishing the play, but what’s more important than all that is finishing your education.”
He also touched on the lineman that the Raiders took in the draft, Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker who he said are coming along quickly, and that the mental part of their game is what he’s most excited about. Gabe Jackson also touched on these young guys calling them quiet but also quick learners.
Gruden addressed a few other things, talking in depth about Bruce Irvin and his situation having come from a tough family and going from high school dropout to college graduate, as well as character concerns after college saying, “You can’t judge a man by one or two mistakes he makes at 21 or 22.” The Raiders have a couple of question mark guys, most notably Gareon Conley from last year’s draft whom Gruden also spoke about, calling him a “special” player and that he cannot wait to see what he can do.
Bruce Irvin took the podium next and talked first about getting his degree, and how long he’s come, reiterating Gruden’s point of what label people try to put on you doesn’t matter. But then he turned to football and talked about Gruden’s impact. He said he’d “never seen a guy’s face be red for all seven periods” and that “[Gruden] talk shit, I talk shit.” When asked if this Raiders team was like the one in Seattle, he said, “we were a bunch of rebels in Seattle…but we came to work every day.” Irvin will be one of the leaders on this defense, and with Khalil Mack currently missing due to contract dispute, he needs to set this tone.
Amari Cooper also spoke to the media. My first impression upon seeing him was how jacked Amari Cooper is. He’s coming off a season with injuries and drops, but strength will not be an issue. He spoke on his injuries, calling them “no excuse” and saying how “everybody plays hurt.” Gruden and Tim Brown have both praised Coop, saying he’s going to be a focal point of the offense and that he will flourish but also be pushed. To this, Coop responded how he’s ready to work, and spoke a bit on Gruden saying how he brings the energy but also makes guys laugh in the film room. Amari should be a big part, and he along with Jordy Nelson, who Amari said he’s already learned a ton from.
I personally am super excited for this Raiders season. Coming off a very disappointing year last year, off-season acquisitions of Jon Gruden, Jordy Nelson, Martavius Bryant, and a very strong draft will help them bounce back. I also feel like they will be coming out hot with an attitude, kind of like what Bruce Irvin spoke of in Seattle. But, its only day one, so we have a loooong season to go.