Jon Gruden: 'I'd like to eliminate instant replay'

Jon Gruden has his own ideas on how to fix what ills the NFL.

When asked Tuesday during the coaches' breakfast at the Annual League Meeting in Orlando if he had a wish-list of changes now that he's returning to the sideline, the Oakland Raiders' coach suggested turning back the replay clock.

"I'd like to eliminate instant replay, honestly," Gruden said. "That would be my No. 1 thing. Let the officials call the game. That's just my opinion. I try not to play that game of 'wish-list,' you know what I mean?"

Gruden, who spent the past nine seasons in a TV booth working for ESPN, pointed to ultra-slow-motion showing all the nuances of a play as the most troublesome aspect of replay.

"I think slow-mo replay is the biggest problem with replay," he said. "When you're looking at is it a catch or isn't it a catch at that speed it's hard to tell. So I think if you threw that slow-mo out, I think you'd get back to common sense. Let the naked eye determine some of these calls. But it always looks like pass interference when you're going that slow; it always seems to look a little bit more dramatic in slow motion."

Gruden can dream about scrapping replay, but with technology only getting better, it's not going anywhere.

What can be improved upon is the replay booth not using slow-motion to nit-pick subjective calls, but rather simply swooping in to fix the few fatal flubs from on-field officials. Part of the NFL attempting to fix the catch rule this week at the owners' meeting is about taking the subjective going-to-the-ground portion out of it, which was exacerbated by replay.

Gruden's rant would have more standing if instead of saying to get rid of replay, he would have argued for fewer and more expedient replays, which is something fans and coaches alike could get behind.

Gruden's anti-replay stance does not help swipe away the reputation that he's an old-school mind attempting to turn back the clock to the good ol' days. The Raiders coach spent the week rebuffing his 'trying to throw the game back to 1998' comment from the NFL Scouting Combine.

Speaking to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday, Gruden said he wasn't talking about getting rid of analytics, but rather getting back to how the Raiders built a winning franchise in 1998.

"We got more analytics than probably any [other] team in the league," Gruden said. "We have all the gimmicks and gadgets, and we're going to have a DJ on the practice field. We're going to throw bubble screens and RPOs [run-pass options]. We're going to have all the statistical data that everybody else has.

"But when I say 1998, I'm going to do this very similar to how I did it then [when first joining the Raiders]. We're going to bring in a lot of free agents that are going to help us send a message, set the tone. We did it [in 1998] with Richard Harvey and Anthony Newman and Elijah Alexander and Eric Allen. We brought in a lot of guys who were pros that love football, that will compete and fight for the Raiders. That's kinda what I meant, 'taking it back to 1998.'"

Gruden's foray back into coaching will be fascinating to track. If the Raiders come out hot, his old-school bravado will be celebrated. If Oakland falls flat, he'll be accused of being behind the times. Winning, as always, defines the narrative.

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