From the moment it became obvious that Jon Gruden possibly would return to the Raiders as the team’s head coach, concerns emerged regarding whether the Chucky persona would make quarterback Derek Carr crumble.
In fairness to Gruden, he seems to realize that he can’t be a raving lunatic and get the most out of his players. He has surely grown and matured in the nine years since he left coaching, and he surely has learned plenty while working week after week in the broadcast booth.
Still, if the Raiders start losing and if Carr isn’t playing as well as Gruden wants him to play, it will be interesting to see whether Carr is still gushing about Gruden.
Had the Falcons hung on to win Super Bowl LI, and had the Patriots not completed the most improbable comeback in Super Bowl history, who would have been named the game’s most valuable player?
More than likely it would have been QB Matt Ryan, the 2016 NFL MVP who posted a 144.1 passer rating in Atlanta’s loss to New England. But what about second-year defensive tackle Grady Jarrett? He tied a Super Bowl record with three sacks on Tom Brady, including two when the Pats were inside the red zone early in the fourth quarter, forcing a field goal.
A lot has happened since that night, when 348 seconds into his team’s duel with Ole Miss, one Rebel (linebacker DeMarquis Gates) went low, another (end Breeland Speaks) went high and Fitzgerald’s right foot stayed planted in the Scott Field turf, crushed beneath his 230 pounds. Evidence of the ghastly injury is available in dozens of places on YouTube. The three most popular videos have a combined 300,000 views.
Fitzgerald’s injury was an omen of change in Starkville. Mississippi State lost the Egg Bowl to an Ole Miss team with nothing but bragging rights to play for, and three days later, Dan Mullen, the man who found, recruited and tutored this overlooked prep quarterback from Georgia, accepted the Florida job, ending a nine-season run at Mississippi State.