Quarterback Nathan Peterman, whose career to date has included historically bad performances, is performing for Raiders coach Jon Gruden in practice. So will Peterman ever perform for Gruden during games?
It’s an intriguing situation, given that Peterman makes this year 3.2 percent of the salary that the Raiders will pay to starter Derek Carr. Gruden inherited Carr; the coach selected Peterman. And it’s no surprise why Gruden gravitated to Peterman.
Gruden believed in Peterman, back when Gruden was an analyst and Peterman was a prospect.
“Peterman is ready to walk in and be a contributor from day one,” Gruden wrote for ESPN.com in early 2017, less than a year before returning to coaching. “He just looks like a pro quarterback — coming out of the huddle, running an offense with different formations, shifting, motioning, different patterns that other colleges don’t run. Peterman will recognize route combinations and associate formations. . . . Most importantly, he will be able to get in a huddle from day one and look at 10 grown men and tell them where to go and what to do and handle a versatile snap count.”
Gruden echoed those sentiments regarding Peterman in a pre-draft conference call before the last draft of Gruden’s coaching hiatus.
“He is sharp,” Gruden said. “He is in the channel, I think, of success. I think he’s going to be a real good pro quarterback. I think any team in the league, you can cater your offense for Peterman. He’s a lot more athletic than people think. And he can handle an extensive amount of football, so the teams that are really ambitious with deep, thick playbooks, those are the teams that Peterman would fit in with. But I hope he gets with one of those guys that can really stretch him and challenge him.”
The fact that Peterman, who played at Pitt (where Gruden once was an assistant coach), failed so badly elsewhere could make Gruden more determined to prove that he can reclaim Peterman. After all, Rich Gannon was a journeyman at best before hooking up with Gruden, who made Gannon into the league MVP the first year after Gruden left Oakland for Tampa Bay. (Yes, as hard as it may be to believe it now, but Rich Gannon won the league MVP award in 2002, at a time when Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Steve McNair, Mike Vick, and Drew Brees were starting quarterbacks.)
Maybe Gruden is cozying up to Peterman simply to put pressure on Carr to step up. Regardless, and as Raiders G.M. Mike Mayock admitted before the draft, the Raiders are constantly looking to upgrade at every position, including quarterback. Maybe, just maybe, Gruden can coach Peterman and career passer rating of 32.5 with three touchdown passes and 12 interceptions into an upgrade over Carr, who was an MVP candidate in 2016 but a middle-of-the-pack passer since then.
First, Peterman has to beat out Mike Glennon. If Peterman does, the question then becomes whether Peterman can become the guy who can run Gruden’s complex offense more efficiently and successfully than the guy who happened to be the incumbent quarterback when Gruden showed up.