‘Eerily similar' personalities have Carr, Gruden working well together


Derek Carr and Jon Gruden couldn't work together. The Raiders franchise quarterback was apparently too sensitive to handle Gruden’s fiery demeanor and intense coaching style, creating an oil and water situation. They just wouldn’t mix.

That hot take made rounds in the blogosphere, especially during the week between news of Gruden returning to the Raiders and when the team made the hire officially official. The concept seemed ludicrous at the time, downright laughable now.

Carr read those headlines. Gruden, too. They were acknowledged with a chuckle, then rarely given a second thought.

Carr was a main attraction when Gruden took the Raiders job in January. The quarterback loves being pushed, always looking to improve. Gruden wants a smart, accurate quarterback -- someone who can match his work ethic.

That makes them a football match. Gruden and Carr have worked together extremely well since the offseason program started, sending that winter storyline up in smoke. 

Player and coach are tireless workers who, above all else, want to win. That’s the foundation of a bond that is growing strong.

“If (people) sit down in a room with us, hear us talk and hear us get after it, they would see that we’re very eerily similar,” Carr said Tuesday. “Obviously, just because they haven’t heard me say the ‘F’ word before, they just assume that I can’t handle hearing it. It’s just one of those things that we had a laugh at it, but went in one ear, out the other because I’m not going to lie, I didn’t even know what month it was we’ve been working so hard and so many hours.

“…I know how he feels about me. He’s told me over and over again. He has showed me over and over again with his actions so when he gets after, I probably deserve it. Secondly, I love it because I know that all he wants to do is get the best out of me.”

Gruden keeps pressuring his franchise quarterback during this offseason program. He did so on the first day of last month’s veteran minicamp, changing plays time and again to see how Carr would react. He passed most every test.

Pop quizzes have become normal, with Gruden demanding Carr execute scheme details often mentioned once hours before.

“I meet with him every morning. He’ll say something to me in that meeting at 5:30 and won’t bring it up the rest of the day, and then he’ll throw it at me in practice,” Carr said. “That’s after all the meetings, after all the conversations, after all of those things to make sure that I’m on top of the little thing in the morning. He just continues to push me to get absolutely everything out of me. It’s been really cool, I’m not going to lie. It’s been a blessing, that’s for sure.”

Carr went a step further on Tuesday, calling the pairing a “dream come true,” as he tries to improve on a disappointing 2017 season entering his fifth NFL season.

Gruden’s goal with Carr, as it is with all his players, is to make them uncomfortable in practice, to make them recall, apply and execute in real time. Gruden doesn’t demand perfection on every practice play, but he wants players to learn quickly from mistakes.

“He is trying to take it to another level of just making you uncomfortable, giving you the toughest looks,” Carr said. “He wants you to throw the ball away. He doesn’t want everything to be perfect every day. Game-like. It’s been awesome. Just making smart decisions and doing those things every day.”

Carr meets with Gruden, offensive coordinator Greg Olson and quarterbacks coach every morning to work on scheme refinement and installation.

The quarterback has enjoyed Gruden’s coaching process, and said his energy has helped the Raiders move beyond last year’s 6-10 disappointment.

Days are often difficult, but Carr welcomes the hard work and pressure to perform. Gruden can be tough and colorful in his criticism, but players seem to know he’s not screaming for screaming’s sake. It’s rooted in a desire to improve his team as a whole, his quarterback specifically.

“It’s just about making sure I am always staying on it because him and I, we have to be on the same page,” Carr said. “We have to be thinking the same way, and he’s just training me to think like him and it’s been real fun.”

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