Raiders head coach Jon Gruden knows that anything goes when competing in Foxboro. He learned just that in 2001, when his team lost to the Patriots in overtime of the AFC Divisional playoffs, 16-13.
“Anytime you step in a stadium like that, it does bring back memories,” Gruden told reporters on Thursday. “Some of the memories aren’t great, but we’re excited to play. We’re excited to play the Patriots and see what we can get done in a short week. They’re a heck of a team.”
Gruden’s Raiders will face off against the Patriots on their home turf on Sunday. While Belichick feels like Gruden has done an “outstanding job” evolving the Raiders as a team, Gruden is just as aware that Belichick could have anything up his sleeve this time around.
Belichick has an 8-1 record against the Raiders as a head coach (6-1 with New England), while Gruden is 1-1 against the Patriots.
“I’m sure I say the same thing everybody says: [Belichick] is the best coach,” Gruden said. He’s going to have a plan for you. What you saw last week is not probably what you’re going to see on game day, so you’ve got to be able to counter that and balance that in your own way…It’s going to be a challenge.”
He’s also impressed with how the Patriots have “joined forces” with an offensive weapon like quarterback Cam Newton, whom Gruden has nicknamed, “Slam Newton”.
“It’s a tough operation,” Gruden added. “It always is when you play against Cam Newton and the New England Patriots, and now that they’ve joined forces, it’s double trouble for every defensive staff, every coach and every team that comes in there.”
Here’s what else the Raiders are saying about the Patriots:
Looking ahead at the matchup:
Carr: “It’s nice to play against the Saints and get a win,” Carr said. “It feels good. But like I told the guys after the game, job is not done. Be all excited and feel good about ourselves because people are saying nice things now. Going on to the Patriots next week, we can lose. Coach Belichick has a day up on me already and I got to get to studying.”
More on Cam “Slam” Newton:
Jon Gruden: “I haven’t seen many guys walk through my doors that look like Cam,” Gruden said. “I call him Slam, Slam Newton. That was the nickname I gave him. He’s a power forward playing quarterback. He’s oversized for the position. He’s gifted so much athletically, it’s incredible what he’s accomplished and how his durability’s been.
“He’s taken a lot of hits in the pocket, like most quarterbacks do. They run on power plays to his left, he’s taking people on with his right shoulder, he gets up and throws a bullet across the field. I don’t know how he does it.”
“Cam looks like he’s the usual Cam. He’s a threat to do a lot of different things,” Gruden added. “It’s a credit to the Patriots. I think it’s a real credit to their coaching staff to be able to change gears that fast, that well. I guess you expect that from the Patriots’ coaching staff, but he’s impressive, and the way they’ve changed gears is very impressive…”
On the Patriots’ defense:
Quarterback Derek Carr: “We definitely have to be ready anytime we play anyone from the New England scheme and that organization,” Carr said. “That’s what they do best, they try to take away your best players. That’s every week we go out there, that’s what people are trying to do to Waller. We’ve had some good practice on it, if I’m being honest. Guys doubling and different stuff with him. Our other guys, it’ll be a great opportunity to see who steps up. Like we always talk about, we’re not a selfish team.
If they want to take something away, then other guys will step up. If they want to take that away, then other guys will step up. We’re into team football and not fantasy stats.”
On the Patriots’ secondary:
Carr: “It’s going to be a real challenge for us,” Carr said. “They are going to come out here and try to choke our young guys out. What a challenge it will be for those guys.”
Wide receiver Zay Jones: “They’re a special group. Well coached. Great athletes,” Jones said. “They have a lot of veteran leadership, especially in the secondary. They have guys that are not afraid to compete. They’re just a good group. We have to be ready for anything and just be ready to compete – focus on ourselves, our game plan and what we’re going to bring to the table. I look forward to the matchup against them.”
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