Falcons take road trip to watch film with Jon Gruden

FLOWERY BRANCH — After signing with the Falcons, quarterback Kirk Cousins called “Road Trip” for his new receivers.

The group responded.

Cousins gave them a couple of dates, and they planned to go see estranged former NFL coach Jon Gruden to watch film last week.

Tight end Kyle Pitts, wide receivers Drake London and Darnell Mooney went along for the film session.

“I golfed with Kirk one time, and then Kirk took us down to Jon Gruden’s place,” Pitts said. “Watched tape and heard how he broke it down and how likes different things. Just growing each day and each week.”

Gruden is a former head coach for the Buccaneers and Raiders, before he resigned from the Raiders on Oct. 11, 2021 after a New York Times report revealed that he used racist, homophobic and sexist language in emails, including some attacking NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, over several years while working as an analyst on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”

Cousins played in Washington for Gruden’s brother, Jay Gruden, from 2014-17.

“We watched a lot of tape,” Pitts said. “I didn’t know who the father of the choice (route) was until then. Just different tight ends and different philosophies and different things to take into each day to help me be my best and do as much as a I can to contribute to the offense.”

So, who’s the father of the choice route.”

“Art Monk,” London said.

Pitts enjoyed the football session.

“(He talks) fast, loud and low,” Pitts said. “He’ll keep you intrigued.”

The father of the choice route was knowledge for Pitts.

“I learned that; I went ‘oh,’” Pitts said. “I didn’t even know they had film at that time.”

Monk, who played from 1980-95, caught 940 passes for 12,721 yards and 68 touchdowns. He was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

“It was great just hearing how he breaks it down,” Pitts said. “How he is seeing it on the field. When you hear that, you know how to play faster and where to be in different situations.”

The trip also was a bonding experience for the Falcons.

“That’s the main part, the camaraderie,” London said. “Just talking to (Cousins), asking him about his kids. What he likes to do in his off time and things he doesn’t like to do.”

London was all ready for the trip.

“He’s very intentional, and that’s what you get with a vet,” London said. “They tell you where to be in different coverages and going against different players. He tells you how we can win. How we can utilize the offense the most and win our matchups.”

Mooney signed with the Falcons in free agency.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Mooney said. “I had some guys tell me how special he was. Seeing it firsthand, he’s an amazing person. I learned a lot just being in that room for three to four hours that we were there. He loved showing some old-school film, but it was a very nice trip.”

So, it also was part history lesson.

“We didn’t do anything like comparison-wise,” Mooney said. “We just threw some guys out there that he knew we wouldn’t know of. But it was nice to experience that for sure.”

Mooney said he wanted to hit it off with London after he signed with the team.

“I called Drake immediately when I signed here,” Mooney said. “I’m not competing with you. We’re going to do this thing together. ... No ego at all. Let’s do this thing together and go win.”

On the trip, the players were frank about their likes and dislikes.

“I think that trip was a nice to break in the ice,” Mooney said. “We talked about some things that you normally never talk about. What frustrates you? What are some things that you hate.

“One of my things that I hate, I hate check-downs in seven-on-seven. Kirk knows don’t check the ball down in seven-on-seven, Mooney hates that. There are some things that you just dislike. Things that you do love and things that you learn about a person outside of football.”

Cousins is not big about wide receivers celebrating.

“He doesn’t like that (spinning the ball),” Mooney said.

Gruden has sued the league after his resignation in Nevada, where a court ruled Tuesday, on appeal, that the case must go to arbitration.

“It seems like he’s still in the team meeting,” Mooney said. “You can definitely tell that he’s ready to get back into.”

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