Raiders coach Jon Gruden had high praise for tight end Darren Waller after Las Vegas' thrilling season-opening win on Monday Night Football.
Speaking with reporters after the Raiders' 33-27 win over the Ravens, Gruden was asked about Waller's performance, which was shaky early on -- including a pair of drops -- before he turned things around in the second half.
Waller was targeted a career-high 19 times by quarterback Derek Carr, with only 10 going for completions, including one for a touchdown. It wasn't exactly efficient, but Gruden said he had no regrets about it.
"We threw it 60 times, and if you threw it 60 times, you would probably target him 29 times,” Gruden said, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic. “He’s the best player I have ever coached, so I am going to continue to look for him.”
Waller, who turned 29 on Monday, seemed to be flattered when reporters relayed Gruden's comments.
“Dang, it’s crazy that he said that," he said.
It's no small praise considering Gruden has coached a handful of Hall of Famers in his long career. Among them, according to Pro Football Talk, are Charles Woodson, Warren Sapp, Tim Brown, Derrick Brooks, and John Lynch.
Waller's career got off to a slow start after the Ravens drafted him in the sixth round in 2015. He missed the entire 2017 season due to suspension but has taken off since joining the Raiders, posting consecutive seasons with 90-plus catches and 1,100 yards.
Despite the sluggish start on Monday and overall inefficiency, Waller, the Raiders and his fantasy owners are surely pleased with the final line of 10 catches, 105 yards and a touchdown score.