Jon Gruden Put On Full Display In Latest "Hard Knocks" Episode
Last night's episode of "Hard Knocks" on HBO "leaned heavily" on Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who voiced his "displeasure at the field" for Packers-Raiders in Winnipeg being shortened to 80 yards, according to Matt Kawahara of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Gruden after the game "seemed to place responsibility for the short field on the Packers." He said the Raiders "thought the field was perfectly ready to roll" and told reporters to "ask Green Bay" about the changes to the field. During a conversation with Raiders QB Derek Carr, Gruden sarcastically said, "Got some guy get off the bus and say he can't play here. What?" Kawahara notes in this case, "'some guy' could refer" to Packers first-year coach Matt LaFleur, as the Packers rested all 22 starters (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/28). YAHOO SPORTS' Frank Schwab wrote the series "focusing so much of the first few episodes" on WR Antonio Brown's drama "took time from the most interesting figure on the Raiders, and that's Gruden." He is a "character in a game that doesn't have enough of them." Gruden has a "couple funny moments each episode, and his speeches to the team are gold" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/27). NFL.com's Dan Hanzus writes Gruden is an "endearing curmudgeon at heart." It is his "most natural gear, and the most entertaining element of his personality on display" in "Hard Knocks" (NFL.com, 8/28).
EXTREME MAKEOVER: In San Jose, Chuck Barney writes there "seemed to be an overtly aggressive effort" by NFL Films last night to "make over the image" of Brown. After "weeks of frustration," a "switch was hit and Brown suddenly turned into Mr. Nice Guy." There was a scene of Brown "reading gushy fan mail." Then he was in Winnipeg "signing autographs before the Raiders' preseason game." He also attended a high school football game and "led cheers, took selfies and allowed himself to be swallowed in a mob of wide-eyed kids." Barney: "Here is where you have to question the authenticity of 'Hard Knocks'" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 8/28). NBCSPORTSBAYAREA.com's Scott Bair wrote viewers in this episode "didn't see anything" about Brown "giving up his helmet fight, or his return to practice when the team reached Alameda" (NBCSPORTSBAYAREA.com, 8/27).
DECISION TIME: USA TODAY's Jim Reineking writes the Raiders "must trim their roster to 53 players" by 4:00pm ET on Saturday, making cutdown day a "major storyline in next week's 'Hard Knocks' episode, as viewers find out the fates of players just trying to make an NFL team." This week's episode "featured a handful of young Raiders hopefuls who are trying to make enough plays in practice and in preseason games to show they belong in the NFL" (USA TODAY, 8/28).