The scouting combine is mostly about college players trying to make an impression on NFL teams and trying to prove themselves capable of playing in the pros through a series of interviews, measurements and on-field drills. However, the combine also is the place where teams' representatives meet agents and members of the media. Among the franchises to hold a press conference at the event were the Oakland Raiders.
New Raiders head coach Jon Gruden met the media – and was also asked about the New England Patriots, who themselves did not have anyone meet the press. Gruden's answer, as was expected, as pretty straight forward: “Oh man, I’m envious of the Patriots – I really am,” the 54-year old told reporters before further explaining why this is the case (via ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss):
The Patriot Way – finding players that are versatile. Finding players that can adapt on a weekly basis to win a game. They don’t care how they beat you, either. They’re not afraid to use the 60-minute clock to beat you in the final seconds. And they’re not afraid to blow you out, either. But they can morph themselves into a two-back team; they can come out with five receivers and play no-back formations. It’s just a pleasure to watch them adapt every year – to the new rules, and to the new men on their roster and coaching staff.
It all starts with Belichick and Tom Brady, certainly. But the people behind the scenes there deserve a lot of credit.
Gruden, of course, has seen the Patriot Way he was talking about first-hand. His teams played agains the Brady-Belichick Patriots two times, losing both contests: The 2005 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were blown out 28-0 by New England, while the 2001 Raiders lost their divisional round playoff game against the Patriots 16-13 in overtime – the latter of the two games would enter NFL lore due to one of the most talked-about plays in NFL history.
The long-time TV analyst, who re-joined the Raiders on January 6, will have to wait a bit before he will meet the Patriots again: The next already scheduled game between the two clubs will happen in 2019. Of course, the two teams could meet earlier than that if they both make the playoffs this upcoming season – setting up a rematch of the above-mentioned “Tuck Rule Game”.