It’s no secret that Jon Gruden’s style hasn’t always resonated well with players. He can be abrasive and in your face, which can wear on certain players. Luckily, that hasn’t been the case with the Oakland Raiders new star wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Early reports have indicated that the outspoken wideout and the outspoken coach have a relationship that’s “thriving.” Considering how sour things turned out in Pittsburgh for Brown, this is a good sign. This shouldn’t be too surprising as Gruden values work ethic and there’s nobody that works harder than Antonio Brown.
“I think the relationship has been great,” Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson said when asked about Gruden and Brown. “I think they’re both like-minded, they both love football. That’s a big part of it. I think that’s a big part of the respect they have for one another.”
A healthy relationship between the players and the head coach could do wonders for a team that struggled to maintain unity during last year’s campaign.
Keeping Brown happy will go a long way towards future success for the Raiders. Brown commented about how Gruden challenges him:
“Lining me up at all kind of positions, hurrying up the offense’s tempo to see if I’m able to mentally pick up what I’m doing, where I’m lining up really fast. So, it’s never a dull day with coach. Always challenging, always high energy and always detailed and fundamental in regards to our assignment.”
Brown has also formed a bond with quarterback Derek Carr.
In Brown, Carr has the best weapon of his career so far and if the offseason has been any indication of what’s to come, he could return to his MVP form from 2016. Brown’s relationship with his new QB is a complete 360 compared to what he had with Pittsburgh Steeler’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Brown and Roethlisberger made one of the NFL’s most formidable duos, but Brown grew tired of the perceived favoritism that Roethlisberger was constantly given by ownership. This is unlikely to happen in Oakland as Carr is on thin ice as it is. Also, Gruden isn’t one for showing favoritism, so don’t expect Brown to get pushed to the side for Carr.
It’s all smiles in Raider land these days. It’s still the offseason and a lot could go wrong, but good news is better than bad news and there’s a lot good news coming out of Raiders OTAs. There will be tougher times ahead as the Raiders sport the hardest schedule in the NFL. It’s promising to see the Raiders staff and players growing a strong bond because there will likely be tribulations come the regular season.
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