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Gruden: Darren Waller "the best player I have ever coached"

9/14/2021 7:12:05 PM
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Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden had high praise for his tight end Darren Waller after Monday night's thrilling overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens, calling him "the best player I have ever coached" according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic.

That is a pretty bold statement considering that Gruden has been in the league a long time and has coached Hall of Famers like Charles Woodson, Tim Brown, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, and John Lynch over the course of his career.  There is not doubt, however, that Waller is a special player and the focus of the Raiders offense.  He has posted huge numbers the past two seasons and put on a dominant performance on MNF, catching 10 passes (on 19 targets) for 105 yards and scoring the game-tying touchdown.  “We threw it 60 times, and if you threw it 60 times you would probably target him 29 times,” Gruden said.

There is some irony in Waller's latest performance coming against the Ravens.  Baltimore drafted him in the sixth-round in 2015 out of Georgia Tech but his tenure with the team was marred by suspensions for substance abuse.  The Raiders actually signed him off the Ravens practice squad in 2018 and he finished that season with a total of six catches.  Waller entered the 2019 season with 18 career catches but has since gone on to catch 207 passes in 33 games.  And there should be many more to come as he just celebrated his 30th birthday on the day of the Raiders thrilling MNF win.


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