Jon Gruden has long been an object of Detroit Lions’ fans affection. From his days coaching back to his days in the broadcast booth, many folks dreamed of him one day leading the team on the sidelines.
It never happened, but that hasn’t stopped folks from wondering if it could have happened or what may have played out behind the scenes. As a result, the question was asked this week if the coach ever had discussions about taking over in Detroit. Gruden, however, remained tight lipped when pressed on that issue this week ahead of his first regular season meeting with Detroit since coming back to football with the Oakland Raiders.
As Gruden said, he maintained close relationships with some former members of the Detroit front office and the team. It’s interesting that he had nothing specific to say about the Lions or the potential of him being contacted about the job.
Rumors swirled that the Lions targeted Gruden behind the scenes prior to hiring Jim Caldwell. While nothing concrete ever surfaced related to that, it’s fair to wonder if some overtures were made at the time.
Regardless, Gruden will be on the opposite sideline this week.
Jon Gruden Talks up Lions
The Lions might have an average team on paper, but Gruden is well aware of the challenge that Detroit presents his team this week, even though they are playing a home game.
“Detroit is playing very good football even though they’ve lost a few games. They had Green Bay on the ropes, they had the Chiefs on the ropes,” he said in an interview segment with Raiders.com. “Matt Stafford is playing extremely well. It’s going to be an exciting game and we need this one.”
Gruden has long been a fan of Stafford, and has always had good things to say about Detroit dating back to his time as a broadcaster. He even welcomed Detroit in for joint practices in Napa a few years back. It’s clear he continues to admire the team from afar.
Matt Patricia Praises Raiders
The Lions boss had plenty of good things to say about the Raiders this week themselves when talking about the matchup, and admitted that while he doesn’t know the Raiders well, he’s seen enough to understand what they represent.
“This is a team we don’t know very well. I think they’re well coached, I think they’ve gotten a lot better,” Patricia said to the media. “Obviously we had a great opportunity to practice against them last year, that was good experience for us to be able to go out there and they were tremendous to us and hosted us while we were out there for the week.”
Specifically, Patricia credited Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock for how they have constructed the Raiders roster and how they are putting together and coaching the team through the 2019 year.
“Coach Gruden’s doing a great job, Mike Mayock, putting a team together that’s got a good combination of young, very talented, explosive players combined with some veterans that are some pretty savvy vets that are experienced in the NFL and bringing these guys along at a high level,” Patricia said when breaking down the Raiders roster.
Patricia, as a result, knows the challenge he and his team will be facing well, and understands a crisp week of practice is the only way to achieve the desired result on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s a really tough team, they do some things really well and we know we’re going to have some problems with them this weekend. So we need a good week of preparation,” Patricia said. “We got a big challenge ahead of us this week, that’s kind of where our focus is right now.”
The focus for both men is on the here and now, even if that won’t stop some Lions fans from wondering what could have been.