SANGER —Tom Flores knows a thing or two about leading the Oakland Raiders to Super Bowl championships. So when he says Jon Gruden has what it takes to bring the franchise back, listen up.
“One thing he’ll give you: hard, long work and dedication because he loves the Raiders,” Flores, 81, said while in Sanger for the inaugural Sanger High Hall of Fame. He and 19 others were inducted.
It’s hard to imagine anyone loving the Raiders more than Flores, who was the franchise’s first starting quarterback, led them to an 83-53 record and two Super Bowl titles in nine seasons as a coach and remains close to the team as a radio commentator.
Flores also addressed quarterback Derek Carr’s 2017 season. Carr missed a game after suffering a broken bone in his back in the fourth game, and his production fell off from an MVP-type 2016.
“He got hurt and the offensive line was changing every week,” Flores said. “He didn’t have a good year. He struggled a little bit. Maybe he got a little desperate and starting pushing too hard. Derek works hard and tries hard … and sometimes too hard.”
Flores said he liked what the team has done in the offseason in trading for Martavis Bryant, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“He brings size and speed and youth,” Flores said. “He’s young. He’s got great size, incredible speed and he’s got a couple of black marks right now because of some trouble he’s gotten into. As long as he adheres to the rules, it shouldn’t be a problem. He’s excited about (playing for the Raiders) and the Raiders are excited about it and he’ll be fun to watch.”
Flores said he believes Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie can turn the franchise around after a 6-10 season last year.
“We have a quarterback and we have some key players,” Flores said. “(Khalil) Mack, receivers, offensive linemen and we have to surround the key receivers with good receivers. You can’t have four star players. You have to supply replacements every year for those who leave and you have to be smart about it. The atmosphere is very positive in camp. In that respect, it’s good.”