RAIDERS HEAD COACH JON GRUDEN
"I'm really happy for our team, proud of our guys, coaches and players. Thrilled to be a part of the first win in our stadium against a great team and hopefully our fans even though they couldn't be here tonight hopefully they saw something they liked. We can't wait to get them back in the stadium. It's such a great place to see a game. It was such a great game for us. We have so many contributors that I don't even have time to name them. A lot of guys got hurt a lot of guys stepped up and played good football when we needed it the most."
The team was down early in the game. Talk about the efficiency it took and how important it was to the success of the game.
"The last couple weeks we've been pretty good taking care of the ball: no turn overs, converting on third down, having balance and winning the time of possession. And when you can win the time of possession and you can keep [Drew] Brees and Sean Peyton on the sideline you have a chance. But we knew it was going to be a 15round fight tonight we knew the Saints were going to give us everything they had and certainly the third down conversion was big tonight."
Last field goal were you thinking about punting there? What was the thought process?
"I saw [Harrison] Butker for the Chiefs get three in a row yesterday, so I had a good vibe. I said if Kansas City is going to kick a field goal in that situation I sure will. [Daniel] Carlson had a big one in Charlotte last week about the same distance. You know we're playing in a beautiful stadium the footing is great, the weather is great there's no wind and he had the look in his eye like he was going to end a football game and that's what we did. I'm really happy for him and Rich Bisaccia for having the confidence and ability to do that."
How do you feel about how the defense was able to step up after Jalen Richard fumbled?
"Jalen's fumble was obviously a key play in the game we had a play set up I think for big yardage there it was going to give us a first down, I believe. Unfortunately, he just mishandled it. You really have to tip your hat to Richard. To come back and play like he did to redeem himself, that's what a professional has to do he has to have thick skin. Kirby Wilson is a great running back coach, and our staff including Greg Olson gave him a lot of confidence to give him another shot."
How much did it help get you in the rhythm to get the short pass going early on? Was it the third drive when it really started rolling for you?
"Well, I don't know if we ever really had a rhythm. Losing [Richie] Incognito early on in the game. After losing Trent Brown, Sam Young, and a number of guys coming and going, I don't know if we ever had a true rhythm. We knew [Saints Defensive Coordinator] Dennis Allen was going to call a different defense every play and when you look at the film you'll see five-down linemen, four-down linemen, three-down linemen every play is a different coverage. Outside of the stat sheet, Derek Carr was awesome tonight. He made some plays today that very few guys I've coached could make. I tip my hat to him he hung in in there with a veteran defense."
Can you talk about Monday Night Football and winning here for the first time?
"Well there's a lot of sentimental and great vibes in our locker room to be a part of winning the first game in history last week, and then winning against a great team whose won 15-16 out of 18 on the road at our home on Monday Night Football is a great thrill for all of us. We hope we can continue to improve we have a great young team. We have a great stadium and a great fan base proving it out on the streets, I just hope they wear their masks."
When Incognito got hurt in the second quarter and was replaced with rookie John Simpson what do you think about his performance today?
"I have to see film to see how the left guard plays, but we moved the ball, converted some third downs, Derek made some audibles, he showed his ability to go in as a young player in a very critical situation and do a lot of things well. I'm proud of him. I can't say I've been harder on any other rookie in the last couple years than John Simpson, because we drafted him with the high expectation t come in here and be a player for us. All the Clemson fans out there, we just love those Tigers, you're a big part of this Raider team."
How do you explain the turn around the team had after the first quarter?
"New Orleans is one of the best teams in football, I don't know where all the pro-football-focused people had them ranked but they're number one, two or three in the NFL. They have the best tempo I think on offense. It was great for our young team, on offense, to see how Drew Brees orchestrates that with Sean Payton after all the time they've been together. They had us on our heels. We missed a protection early on the first series and they jumped on us. They've jumped on a lot of people and well. But we knew if we had to be in this game to win this game, it's going to be a 15-round fight we just gotta keep swinging against New Orleans because they have the heart of a champion, they know what they're doing, they've been together a long time."
You said this game was going to be a 'measuring stick' for the team, so what does this game tell you about the 2020 Raiders?
"It tells me that we're on the right track. We have a real competitive group of guys. We need to get healthy. We need [Nick] Kwiatkoski back, we need Trent Brown back. Obviously, we need Incognito back. This is a young team, I give Matt Mayock and his staff a lot of credit because some of these young guys are getting better and that's a good sign. We got a short week no time to really enjoy this because we're going to Foxborough and playing New England Patriots, so we're excited to do that."
The connection between Derek Carr and Darren Waller was prevalent. Was that the game plan of is that how the game evolved?
Gruden: "I don't know what the stat sheets say to be honest with you. I know we threw it to [Henry] Ruggs [III] at the end of the game on a bomb. I think Al Davis would've been proud of that, with the game on the line. We used a lot of different players [Bryan] Edwards had some key grabs. Darren's a great player. Our job is to get him the ball... I've said this before I'd take him out of any tight ends and I know [George] Kittle and [Travis] Kelce are as good as they get, but [Darren] Waller is right up there with them. This is his second year playing the position, it's astonishing what this man can do."
Do you think Derek Carr's performance was an example of a player who is more and more comfortable with how you play a smart offensive game?
"There's a lot of people who make a lot of opinions about how Derek performs and our relationship, but he had nine different flankers last year. When I was here for four years, we had Tim Brown every week for four years. I don't know how many different combinations we had on the offensive line yet he threw for over 4,000 yards at 70 percent and put us in a position to make the playoffs in week 15. This guy's a great quarterback and we're surrounding him with better players. When our defense starts playing to their potential he could be even better. He does so much with the ball and without the ball and behind the scenes that Raider fans should be proud of him and I know I am."
I saw you had your mask on but then didn't have it later, are you aware that some coaches have been fined?
"I've had the virus, I'm doing my best. I'm very sensitive about it, but I'm calling plays. I want to communicate these situations. I apologize, but if I get fined, I will have to pay the fine. I am very sensitive about all of that and I apologize."
Game action photos from the New Orleans Saints vs. Las Vegas Raiders matchup in Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season.
QUARTERBACK #4 DEREK CARR
How much do you love having a tight end named Darren Waller?
"Yeah, I think you know how much I love him. He did an exceptional job. I hope everyone gets to see everything about Darren Waller that we know him to be. He's not only one of the best players in the NFL, he's on one of the best humans. Love that guy. Love that player. I'm glad to be his quarterback, I'm honored."
Can you talk about extending drives, the importance of doing that, and being efficient on those money downs to keep Drew Brees on the sidelines?
"Since Coach Gruden got here there's been an emphasis. I'm really happy that today we saw 10-17 because that's not easy to make. Going for it on fourth down is not easy to do. This defense is one of the best ones I've ever played against. They are tough. Man to man coverage, zone coverage, different fronts multiple looks…They throw everything they have at you and I am really proud of our guys for sticking with our rules and trusting the gameplay. We have a lot of good football players. We have a lot of good football character guys which allows us to be able to go 10-17 on third down. Especially against that team, not easy to do. Really, really proud we played to finish on those crucial downs – which had to happen tonight."
Being down two starters, you hit more receivers than usual. It looked like you were trying to get it out quicker and just spread it around and it seemed they protected you a lot more after the first quarter. Is there a sense you wanted to get it out quickly with those guys out in front of you?
"I'm done joking about it, I mean I have a lot of jokes. It just is what it is. You got to let that guy get a feel for the game. Against that front (inaudible) let's see if he can hold that up. It's not going to give the kid any confidence. You have to work him into that. We are able to and then we are able to hit our shots. He starts playing so well that we can hit him with certain shots and trust that he can hold up. Only a few times in the game did I feel like we had a double move early, where I couldn't step into it. Besides that, they were solid and against that front it's not easy to do. There is a little bit of chess to that when you are trying to figure things out."
Having this performance offensively against the Saints defense and what they are able to accomplish. What kind of statement does that make for your offense as a whole?
"I'll let everyone else talk about the statement. I'm tired of talking and I think people can hear it in my voice sometimes. It's nice. It's nice to go out and be 2-0. It's nice to play against the Saints and get a win. 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 one me already and I got to get to studying."
You said it yourself, this is home now. How does it feel to get the first win in Vegas and what does it mean for the franchise as a hole?
"I'm happy for my city. I hope they fans in the bay area are still excited. I can understand they're hurt. I heard they're hurt. I felt their pain as we left that game at the end of the year. I felt it. With that said, I am happy for our city Las Vegas, this is our town now. I know the people here at the casinos and other businesses I've seen have been out of work for a while, so hopefully they turned on the game and it put a smile on their face, and that means something to me. This is home to my wife and children and myself. We moved right out here after the season and everyone thought we were crazy. But here we are. And hopefully we put a smile on their face, and hopefully kids were inspired by the way Darren Waller caught the ball or the way Josh Jacobs ran the ball or the way our offense line was able to play. Hopefully there were some young kids inspired in the Vegas area and we were able to put a smile on their face during this crazy time."
Take me through your touchdown pass to Zay Jones. Was that a result of all the hard work you put in together this summer?
"Yeah, I don't see a lot of tweets, but I saw your tweet about that and it made my day. It really made my day because of all the work that was put in. You don't know how tough it is and how hot it is. Some days we didn't feel like it, you know? And we did it anyway. I missed that throw two times last year, so we re-worked the heck out of that route and Coach Gruden said "you can't miss that again." He told me and I said "yes, sir" As we watched the cut up. We watched 100 completions on that play, but he said "Look at these two incompletions. Can't do that again." So the fact that we were able to hit that is a lot of relief tonight. Especially for Zay. He's been through a lot. Getting traded by the team who drafted you – probably doesn't feel good. Then to come here and compete for a spot, like I said before I told him, this is yours, go do it. And tonight Coach put him in, and let me tell you this, he's not always the guy in practice running that route because we have starters, and he came in and there was so much trust because we put the work in. We've had years to work with each other. This is my third year in the system and I am on cloud 9 with that because things like that touchdown can happen when you spend time with them."
Given your appreciation for the franchise, what did it feel like to see Mrs. Davis up there lighting the torch and what did feel like taking in the historic moment?
"I think you guys know how much this place means to me. I love being a Raiders. I'm never going to play for anyone else. I love this place. This is home to me. The things I grew up hearing from my dad and my uncle telling me stories about when he played here with the guys, showing me pictures of David and Daren in Raiders jackets sitting on Santa's lap. It's been in our family for a long time. Just like I told Dennis Allen after the game, I said "Thank you so much for giving me my chance" and I know he probably didn't want to hear it, but every time I see him I tell him that. Because it means a lot to me. This organization means everything to me. They stuck behind me through some hard times. Through times our team struggled, there's no doubt about it. But to be on the other side of things and to be 2-0 as the Las Vegas Raiders – that's a pretty cool thing. Just like when I told you when we were standing out there to break ground, I said I am going to take the first snap in that stadium, and that's a dream that I had. A lot of people didn't believe it. The first day I moved here Tom Brady was on the front page of the newspaper. It just adds fuel to the fire and still be here to accomplish things that mean so much to you. This is family to me, it's more than football. This place and every relationship from the top down means everything to me. I'm trying to put how much this means to me into words but it's hard. I love this place. I love our fans."
New Orleans Saints fans cheer on the team from a safe distance as the Saints take on the Las Vegas Raiders in week 2 of the 2020 NFL season.
TIGHT END #83 DARREN WALLER
Can you describe the chemistry between Carr and you?
"It started right when I first came back to the team in 2018. In Bible studying environments, just me being open about things I was going through, and working with me and not judging me in any way. I feel like from there it was a thing where I didn't want to let him down, and I wanted to be there for him because I knew he was there for me. It's been there ever since. It kind of developed from there, once that was there it was kind of easy to translate to the field. Hanging out and playing card games together, things like that carried over to the field and we just put the work in."
Describe how you still managed to get many catches knowing there was many options.
"Our offensive balance right now is amazing. We could see it coming from training camp and once we first got together as a team and actually started doing something, you could tell that there is a lot of guys that deserve to have opportunities to get the rock because they're going to make things happen. Like Zay Jones, I mean you can just go down the line, like Bryan (Edwards), and Henry (Ruggs). I'm just thankful that I can be part of that group, part of that balance that they can count on to make plays whenever I'm called upon. Whatever the numbers look like, that's cool with me. As long as our balance is there and we keep attacking, keep the defense on their heels, that's all I want."
Did you hear your song play throughout the game and after the touchdown?
"Yeah, I would hear it after the first downs. I don't know if my mind was elsewhere after I scored a touchdown but I would hear the music after the first down. It doesn't even feel real."
Thoughts on Carr's time in the Gruden system?
"His confidence is growing so far being in the system. It's a lot of volume in our system, a lot of stuff that he needs to know. I don't know how he knows it all, all the checks, and things like that. The time he puts in and the brain power to remember that stuff is impressive. You can tell that he has confidence in us. His presence in the huddle was great before but now how he commands guys to do things and everybody just follows his energy is impressive."