CBS analyst (and former Raider quarterback) Rich Gannon gave people a sample, a shot if you will, of Chuckie during the broadcast of the Oakland at Los Angeles Chargers season-ending tilt last Sunday.
“If you behave like that you will not be back in Oakland next year,” Gannon told broadcast partner Kevin Harlan as he chastised some questionable things during the Raiders’ loss. “Regardless of who’s coaching.”
That final caveat was unnecessary. The football world knew the future head coach. And that Gannon venomous tidbit was the 100-percent truth.
New head honcho Jon Gruden isn’t going to tolerate BS.
“I would just like to say that I’m glad to be back. I’m glad to unite with them. I never wanted to leave,” Gruden said during his introductory press conference on Tuesday. “I am thrilled to be back and I plan on doing everything that I can with this opportunity. Let’s go. That is what I say to Raider Nation. Let’s go. Let’s stop talking, and let’s get to work.”
Oh, Gruden can work you pretty damn hard. And the Raiders locker room best be prepared. They aren’t getting the lovable Gruden we’ve seen parading his love for every player on ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast.
The Raiders are getting Chucky. That mean and scowling bastard that strikes fear into young and veteran players, alike. It doesn’t matter what kind of clout a player thinks they hold in that locker room. There’s no one bigger now Chucky is in town.
Gruden has no qualms about calling out a superstar. And that began when he was merely an assistant coach. In fact, he relishes in taking jabs at marquee players. Former players are quick to point that out.
“I hope these players are ready, because they’re going to get Chucky,” all-time great wide receiver Jerry Rice said after Gruden’s presser. “They’re going to get him, and how they deal with that could tell the whole story. But Chucky’s going to come out. And either you buy in or you’re not going to be part of it.”
Rice expanded on his thoughts.
“I think he has a character like Bill Walsh — he can be your best friend or your worst enemy. He going to keep you on your toes, and maybe the current players, that was something they were lacking this year,” Rice explained. “Sometimes with all the talk, you fall into listening to all the talk. But you need a coach that’s going to keep you focused, and Jon Gruden is that type of coach.”
Like Rice, Gannon professed how hard Gruden pushes players. Of course, his intentions do not reside within pure mean spirit. Gruden is extremely hard on players who he believes can ascend to the highest of levels. Plus, Gruden made it a point to say the Raiders roster has players with untapped potential that needs coaching.
I’ve long said the Raiders need a toughcoach to tighten the ship, tighten the screws that are loose. Someone who will hold the players to the highest standard and get furious when the Raiders fail to meet the lofty expectations.
We’ll see next season if Gruden can make that look like Child’s Play. Provided that Oakland can build a team’s to Gruden’s specifics, the Raiders should compete. Equally important, if Gruden can reach players early enough, the playoff chase starts early.