If Jon Gruden never left coaching, he and Sean Payton might receive far more coaching comparisons than they do now. Both have made significant impacts in their coaching careers. Gruden and Payton both have: winning playoff and regular-season records as coaches, a Super Bowl win, and both hold wins records for an NFC South team.
But their tenures have been quite different as well. Gruden has bounced from Oakland, to Tampa Bay, to the ESPN booth, back to Oakland, and now Las Vegas while Payton has stayed put in New Orleans. Prior to their head coaching days, Payton worked under then-offensive coordinator Gruden as a quarterbacks coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. Payton credits a lot of his grit and dedication to Gruden’s near-obsessive coaching style.
Last time the Raiders met the Saints was in 2016, in a game that would turn into an absolute thriller. The Raiders would win 35-34, behind 319 yards from Derek Carr, converting a two-point conversion in the closing seconds. While a 300+ yard game is certainly possible for Carr, Drew Brees matching his 423 yards from that game teeters on the line between “doubtful” and “far-fetched.”
Both Gruden and Payton know how to build teams to fit into their highest potential. he’s coached for 14 years, while Gruden is just getting started on his third. With Payton being Gruden’s former student, the largest constant with the two is an unstoppable drive creating a thirst only quenched by victory.
Over the last three years, Payton has built a team so strong that double-digit win seasons have become expected. Although Gruden and the Raiders have yet to get there in Gruden’s second tenure, they have improved by three wins in the first two years Gruden has been with the team. Sure, the advantage of previous records goes to Payton, but Gruden gets the advantage of youth and potential.
Looking ahead, the next time these two match up, it could be the Super Bowl. Or, perhaps a little more likely, within the next few seasons. But, the difference will be at quarterback. Brees knows he is fighting the clock and, as seen with Brett Favre, that clock eventually stops ticking. Brees and Payton both arrived in New Orleans in 2006, but soon Payton will have to search for Brees’ replacement, a role that appears to be out of the grasp of Jameis Winston, and in searching for and coaching up a new quarterback, fans will get to see a new side of Sean Payton