Jon Gruden: Darren Waller’s the best player I’ve ever coached

Baltimore Ravens v Las Vegas Raiders
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Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has coached Hall of Famers like Charles Woodson, Tim Brown, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, and John Lynch over the course of his career, but he said on Monday night that one of his current players is the best of everyone he’s ever coached.

Tight end Darren Waller posted huge numbers the last two seasons and the 2021 season opener set the stage for another big year. Waller was targeted 19 times by quarterback Derek Carr in Monday night’s overtime win over the Ravens and he caught 10 of the balls for 105 yards, including a game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.

“We threw it 60 times, and if you threw it 60 times you would probably target him 29 times,” Gruden said, via Vic Tafur of “He’s the best player I have ever coached, so I am going to continue to look for him.”

Waller’s Monday exploits came against the team that drafted him in the sixth round of the 2015 draft, but his Ravens tenure was marred by suspensions for substance abuse violations and he eventually was signed by the Raiders off Baltimore’s practice squad in 2018. Waller caught six passes that year and entered the 2019 campaign with 18 career catches.

He has 207 catches in 33 games since that point and there’s no reason to think he’ll be slowing down at any point in the near future.

37 responses to “Jon Gruden: Darren Waller’s the best player I’ve ever coached

  1. Don’t forget Gruden also coached Jerry Rice, albeit, an end of the road Jerry who was still very good but not anywhere near his GOAT days with the 9ers.

  2. Waller is a Beast. When the Ravens first drafted him as a wide receiver out of Georgia Teach, they saw his talent up and close, but viewed him as a tight end. He therefore made the position switch.
    He definitely had the talent, but he was dealing with off the field issues, Substance abuse and suspensions. The Ravens did not want to give up on him and kept him on their practice squad. In 2018, during pre-game warm-ups, the Raiders saw him and could not believe how talented he was. Gruden signed him immediately and everyone knows the rest. Sorry to see him slip away from the Ravens, but glad he has become the man and player he is right now. You can’t help but root for the guy. Great Job turning your life around Darren Waller!

  3. Great game to watch and great win for the Raiders in their new stadium. The fans looked like they were having a blast.

  4. Throwing 60 passes a game and targeting one player nearly 1/3rd of the time is not a long term recipe for success in the NFL.

  5. Waller is a beast Love this guy for my team. Chucky is a little excited after the game. GO RAIDERS!!

  6. Jon Gruden, the king of hyperbole.

    Waller is great but to say he’s the best player he ever coached is absurd.

  7. Considering where Waller was in his personal life, and now arguably the best TE in football? Amazing story for the kid, and he is a stud.

  8. This guy did nothing but run block and run go routes at Georgia Tech as a WR…amazing what he’s turned into

  9. And to think that all this time Keyshawn Johnson thought that Keyshawn Johnson was the best player Gruden ever coached.

  10. That’s why all the players love playing for Gruden. Even free agents want to play for him. Especially receivers and QB’s. We know he’s excited, and he might not mean everything he says, but the players love it.

  11. Wonder what he would’ve said if the Ravens would’ve scored on his complete mismanagement in overtime. That was a disaster, but luckily for LV, Baltimore is worse than they are.

    To go from thinking you won it only to be overturned, a failed qb sneak, to a false start, to throwing an interception, to a fumble recovery, to taking a delay of game because your call was late and the kicker couldn’t kick it, to never mind, let’s throw a pass, and winning it.

    I guess if you do enough stupid things, eventually something works…

  12. Rich Gannon and Bill Romanowski aren’t inviting Jon Gruden to the ex-raiders saturday pancake socials anymore.

  13. So many angry little haters on this lol if you wanna waste energy on subpar hater messages keep right on punching those keys in unwarranted hate…list angry little folks lol

  14. Beast of a player! I was down 21 pts in my fantasy match up and he delivered with that td late in the game. I’m sure I’m not the only person he helped get a come- from- behind fantasy win.

  15. People are pointing out that Gruden coached Jerry Rice, who certainly had the greatest career of anybody he ever coached. But Gruden didn’t have Rice during his peak years.

    Fair enough, but he did coach Rich Gannon one year before Gannon won the MVP.

    Gruden is prone to hyperbole. We’ve seen this on ESPN, where whoever happened to be playing in front of him was suddenly the best player in the NFL.

  16. What a joke. Gruden coached Jerry Rice, Charles Woodson, Derrek Brooks, Warren Sapp, John Lynch, etc. Waller is a great story and an undeniable talent, but this is kind of crap that Gruden spews on a regular basis.

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