New Orleans Saints coach Dennis Allen said that a visit with former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden doesn’t foreshadow any major overhaul of the team’s offense.
Gruden attended several practices last week and visited with the Saints’ offensive coaches and quarterbacks as they went through their first full week of offseason practices. Allen said that the main purpose of the visit was to pick Gruden’s brain about new Saints quarterback Derek Carr, who played under Gruden from 2018 until Gruden resigned as head coach of the Raiders in 2021.
“Obviously, Jon’s a guy that has a lot of experience with Derek and Derek has had his most success under Jon Gruden,” Allen said at the conclusion of the Saints’ practice session Tuesday.
“And so, we felt like bringing him in, having a chance to sit down and visit with him as an offensive staff, with the quarterbacks and just getting some new thoughts and ideas of things we might be able to implement. I would say this, I would say, offensively for a long time that I’ve been here, we’ve been pretty effective. So, I don’t see us putting in a whole new offense or doing something dramatic. But if there’s a few ideas that we could take from that, we felt like that would be beneficial.”
Saints rookie quarterback Jake Haener said the biggest takeaway from the meeting was talking about what had worked for Carr and Gruden when they worked together in the past.
“They obviously wanted to bring him in to see what Derek does well and what he thought Derek did well, just to help them get a feel for him as a player, because obviously he’s a new person in the building and they want to do what Derek does well. I think that was the biggest thing, just getting a different perspective and a different mind,” Haener said. “Obviously it’s very interesting to hear from a guy that’s really successful and has been successful. … I definitely got something out of it. He liked the way I threw the ball.”
Gruden has been out of the league since he resigned in 2021 following a report that emails he wrote over a 10-year period included racist, misogynistic and anti-gay language.
Carr spoke to the media shortly after Gruden resigned and said that it was a day that included emotions of anger and frustration.
“It was a lot to handle, I’ll say it that way,” Carr said at the time. “You all know me, man. I don’t condone that kind of talk. I don’t talk that way. My kids sure as heck will never talk that way and it’s hard because I love the man so much.”
Allen said that he didn’t have concerns about any backlash surrounding Gruden’s visit and said it was something they’ve done with several coaches over the years. He said everyone involved came away with a positive experience.
“No, look, you ask everybody that was involved and they thought it was really beneficial for our football team,” Allen said. “And look, we’re going to look at any avenue that we can to try to improve. So that was one area we thought, just bringing him in and having the opportunity to sit down and visit with him, would help us.”
Said Saints quarterback Jameis Winston: “I just think anytime you get one of the greatest minds in NFL history to come in and spend some time with you, you just soak up everything that you can possibly soak up. I just think his presence and his approach to the game is something I really took in.”
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