Saints advisor Jon Gruden is a big supporter of backup QB Nathan Peterman

It’s still unclear what role ex-Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has with the New Orleans Saints. His connection to the organization has been characterized as, at different times, “an observer rather than any official consultant” per NewOrleans.Football’s Mike Triplett and as a possible “addition to the Saints offensive staff rather than a replacement for offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael” according to’s Jeff Duncan.

Obviously Gruden has not joined the staff in any official capacity (yet), but it stands to reason that he’s still around the team. He had dinner with general manager Mickey Loomis and other team brass when the Saints visited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers late last December, and he’s someone they regard highly despite the off-field distractions his presence creates.

What we do know about Gruden is that he’s a big Nathan Peterman fan. Gruden kept Peterman around as a backup quarterback on the Raiders for years, and now Peterman is competing for the same job in New Orleans. Back before the 2017 draft, when Gruden was still working in broadcasting for ESPN, he said of the then-Pitt Panthers quarterback:

“Peterman is ready to walk in and be a contributor from day one. He just looks like a pro quarterback — coming out of the huddle, running an offense with different formations, shifting, motioning, different patterns that other colleges don’t run.

Peterman will recognize route combinations and associate formations. Most importantly, he will be able to get in a huddle from day one and look at 10 grown men and tell them where to go and what to do and handle a versatile snap count.”

Clearly things didn’t work as Gruden anticipated once Peterman got on the field. No quarterback has thrown more interceptions (13) on fewer attempts (160) since he entered the league. Still, Gruden stood by his evaluation and chose to bring Peterman into the fold when he was coaching the Raiders a few years later.

“This Nate Peterman is growing on me,” Gruden told Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review Journal. “He’s athletic. I know he’s got some nightmare performances in the NFL, but when you watch the film you can see why. It’s not all his fault, but he’s got some talent, he’s got some athleticism, he’s got some experience.”

Gruden added: “He was an opening day starter for the Buffalo Bills last year. I take that very serious. He’s smart. He’s done a good job. He’s been consistent, and I think he’s starting to get his confidence back. We all need that.”

Now, just because Gruden likes a quarterback doesn’t mean the player is any good. Just look at the horrible draft picks he and Mike Mayock put together with the Raiders. It became a meme during Gruden’s ESPN tenure on Monday Night Football that he’d claim to have loved every player he could name. From Tom Brady to Alex Smith and Mike Glennon, anyone would get an enthusiastic, “Man, I love this guy.” Peterman has probably gotten the same treatment.

Still, it’s easy to connect the dots here. Gruden has been around the Saints as an organization for most of the last year. He’s a big fan of Peterman as a backup quarterback. And when the Saints needed someone cheap who wouldn’t threaten Derek Carr’s job security, Gruden may have put in a good word for the third-stringer. It would almost be more surprising if he hadn’t.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire