Barring an twelfth-hour screwup of which few owners are capable (no comment on whether Mark Davis is one of them), Jon Gruden will be the next head coach of the Raiders. Which means that Gruden eventually will be working directly with quarterback Derek Carr.
Sure, Gruden told Carr during a snarling QB Camp interview that Gruden would want Carr to be his quarterback (specifically, in comparison to his brother David), and there’s a chance that’s actually the truth. (Gruden has a well-earned reputation of saying good things about anyone and everyone, part of a nine-year long con calculated toward this specific moment.) The more important truth is whether Derek wants Gruden.
More specifically, the more important truth is whether Carr will still want Gruden to be his coach, after dealing with Gruden for a while.
Per a league source, there’s a real concern that Carr won’t be able to put up with Gruden’s style for very long. Gruden will ride him and needle him and yell at him and criticize him and ride him some more. Carr will have to learn how to deal with that, or Carr won’t last.
And that’s ultimately the concern: Carr, given the way he’s wired, may not make it with Gruden.
“Jon Gruden is not easy to deal with,” PFT Live co-host Chris Simms told me by phone on Thursday. “He’s in your face, he’s blunt, he’s extremely honest. At the same time, he’ll be extra hard on a quarterback if he knows the kid has talent. The quarterback has to remember it’s only because he wants him to be better and knows he can be better. . . . If he wasn’t yelling at you, that’s the bigger concern. It’s all for the greater good. It’s only going to make you a better quarterback.”
Simms explained that Gruden regards his offense as an expensive sports car that he has loaned to the quarterback.
“You’ve got the keys to his red Lamborghini,” Simms said. “When there’s a lane to go to 100 [miles per hour], you’d better go 100. But you’d better not scratch it, either.”
Simms said that, in the end, the haranguing is “all to make you better,” and that Carr will “learn more football under Gruden than he’s learned in his entire career.”
If Carr can handle it.
Here’s a prime example of the dynamic Carr will be dealing with. Remember his Superman routine after running for a first down late in the Cowboys game, when he lunged unnecessarily for the pylon and fumbled out of the end zone, essentially ending the game? Carr compared it to taking the last shot in a basketball game; Gruden will compare it to crashing the red Lamborghini, because there was still time to get out of bounds and take that last shot without trying to do too much.
And Gruden will let Carr hear it, if that happens again. (Gruden probably will let him hear about it during their first meeting.) And if Carr can’t take it, Carr won’t be long for the Raiders.
Coincidentally, Carr’s gigantic contract has a fairly early out for the team, allowing them to dump him after 2018 with only a $7.5 million cap charge, at a cash outlay over two years of less than $48 million. After spending a full season with Gruden, Carr may be willing to pay back some of that money in order to get out of town.
I’m kidding about that. Maybe. Sort of. Not really.