Jon Gruden: Odds He Could Return to Each Team with a Tenuous Coaching Situation
The Black Eyed Peas famously asked "Where is the love?" If the soon-to-be Super Bowl halftime show group are still searching for answers however, perhaps they should look no further than the NFL's bright stage.
When it comes to coaching sensations, many names grace the golden pages. Tony Dungy, Bill Cowher, Tom Landry and of course the most recognized man to ever wear a hat—Vince Lombardi, are well noted front men throughout the leagues prevalent history.
But when it comes to the forgotten about yet well respected men of years past, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden pops into mind.
While resumes aren't overly important in the NFL, Gruden's coaching career certainly qualifies as one of the best. As a player Gruden was nothing much to look at, playing for Muskingan College and the University of Dayton but as a coach though? Well, that's a totally differently story.
Just for the record Gruden has served for nine different professional football teams, in a span that ranges well over 20 years. Call him the golden haired boy if you will, Gruden may not be compared to Bill Belichick anytime soon, but he does have the credentials to satisfy any team looking for a new head coach in 2011.
So what are the chances Gruden returns to the Motorola headset and stocks up on a year's supply of chewing gum?
Some say he is comfortable behind a desk calling Monday Night Football.
Call him crazy though, because it is not as doubtful as you may think. Therefore, here's a look at several NFL teams who may consider Jon Gruden, along with a short summary on what the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer would bring to each franchise.
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Ryan Cook is an Australian Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters, plus a contributing writer for Detroit Lions Talk, Gack Sports and Generation Y Sports.
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From a third place ranking in the NFC South last season to a bottom dweller spot that sees the Carolina Panthers as the worst team in football, one of the leagues smallest fanbases are now creating quite an uproar towards their head coach.
For those that aren't familiar with John Fox, chances are you haven't been watching too many Panther games. Since 2002, Fox has been coaching in Carolina, and if you are looking for a little more history behind the often quiet front man, Fox also served as the New York Giants defensive coordinator in the early 2000s.
Straying away from the past though, it is John Fox's present circumstances that have drawn some hot water. As if a 1-10 record on the season isn't enough, the Carolina Panthers are now facing a serious quarterback dilemma after losing Jake Delhomme last season and gaining rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen in the draft.
Sticking with the absence theme, the Panthers also managed to say goodbye to star defensive end Julius Peppers earlier this year, after the big man seemed so comfortable and loyal to his hometown for a number of years.
Unfortunately, now the water is above Fox's head. Carolina look likely to receive the first draft pick come April 2011, and now that Fox looks to be possibly out of a job, the name Jon Gruden begins to appear.
If you're looking for the positives here, Gruden does know the NFC South. Twice a year, the Panthers play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Gruden's former team), and better yet, Gruden does have a ton of experience coaching NFC-based teams.
It may not be much, but it is a start. One thing is for sure though, Jon Gruden could certainly bring in some great draft picks, if he were to be at the helm come early next year.
Odds Jon Gruden Takes Over Carolina: 60%
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Unlike the Carolina Panthers, the Cincinnati Bengals had high hopes for the 2010 season. That "hope" was dashed instantly though by a poor start to the season and several torturing weeks to follow in the year.
First and foremost, head coach Marvin Lewis was always on a hotseat entering in. The Bengals dismal playoff loss to the New York Jets last year was inexcusable, and now that a 2-9 record has been achieved 12 weeks into the year, let's just say Marvin Lewis has earned himself a trip to the unemployment line come early January.
Secondly, for most folks watching at home, the sight of Wade Phillips and Brad Childress' firing in Dallas/Minnesota prompted them to think that Marvin Lewis was next. Most struggling teams were dusting off the cobwebs while they could, but it appears the Bengals aren't willing to go down that path just yet.
And why is that?
Maybe for some unknown reason, Cincinnati is holding out for Jon Gruden. Call them crazy or delusional, but there is the slight chance that Gruden could pay dividends for the the struggling "Bungles" if they were to go through with this possibility though.
While Gruden hasn't had much experience in the AFC other than the Oakland Raiders in 1998, he has had a strong hand in dealing with a struggling franchise. When Gruden took over the Buccaneers in 2001, Tampa Bay finished the year at 9-7, only to bump up to 12-4 and win the Super Bowl the very next year.
Last but not least, Jon Gruden also recruited extremely well in Tampa Bay. With Tony Dungy out of the way, Gruden was successful in attaining many free agents, hence the Bucs first ever Lombardi Trophy.
It's something to consider, and the Bengals would love it if it were to happen.
Odds Jon Gruden Takes Over Cincinnati: 50%
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Wade Phillips is now gone from Dallas entirely, and now marks the start of the Jason Garrett era that looks slightly promising as the remaining weeks of this year's regular season draw on.
Starting from a recent standpoint, the Dallas Cowboys finally appear to be a team again.
The New Orleans Saints only just scraped by with a field goal victory on Thanksgiving in Week 12, and in weeks prior, the Cowboys did have a two-game win streak flowing, with impressive victories over the New York Giants and Detroit Lions.
At the end of the day however, the Cowboys are still 3-8, and just like the Cincinnati Bengals, 2010 was meant to be a hit rather than a "You sunk my battleship" type of year.
Fortunately for Dallas, they have found some enjoyment out of watching Jason Garrett excel. Yes, the label of "interim head coach" still lingers above his head, but the firm chances of Jerry Jones terminating this status and promoting him to the "main man" is quite favorable.
Therefore, the need for Jon Gruden isn't present in Dallas just yet. Unless the Cowboys go on some kind of big time losing streak in the next five weeks, Jason Garrett should be shown a chance in 2011 even if he does wind up going the way of Wade Phillips.
Don't forget that experience counts for a lot in the NFL, and Jason Garrett has a ton. Garrett has been with the Cowboys since 2007 and knows the "ins and outs" like the back of his hand. Jon Gruden, no. Jason Garrett, yes.
Odds Jon Gruden Takes Over Dallas: 30%
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If you thought it took Guns N' Roses a long time to produce their "Chinese Democracy" album, think again, because Josh McDaniels' coaching career in Denver has drawn out longer than a packed New York City subway ride.
Throughout the past week, Josh McDaniels opened up his wallet to the NFL, after being caught trying to tape the San Francisco 49ers workout regime in a Bill Belichick-type spygate maneuver.
To keep track of Josh McDaniels' coaching career in Denver, surely takes up a period of your life. Since taking over in 2009, McDaniels has single handily managed to turn such a promising franchise into an utter disappointment in the span of two years.
Keeping it fair at the same time though, McDaniel's has also brought out the best in his players. Both Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd are having a monumental 2010 season, and now that Knowshown Moreno is coming back to form, the Broncos offense is one of the few shining points from this year.
Still, there is way too much controversy to focus on just that.
Now, the Broncos search for an answer, and as per usual Jon Gruden's name comes up. Unlike previous teams mentioned however, Denver is realistically one of the best fits for Gruden if he is to make a return to coaching.
Why is that?
Basically due to the fact that Denver needs him. Mile High is tired of Josh McDaniels, and it is becoming painfully clear that there are some off field issues brewing within the historic confines of the unofficial house that Elway built.
Denver would love to have him, as Gruden would really provide the right motivation to such a struggling team. Surely this coaching saga can't go on in Denver, and Josh McDaniels is only wasting his team's time by sticking around.
Whether or not Jon Gruden wants to even attempt to tackle this task is a totally different ball game.
Odds Jon Gruden Takes Over Denver: 70%
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Shutting out the Tennessee Titans this past weekend 20-0 acted as one of the few promising signs of the Houston Texans 2010 campaign. On the unlucky side, the Texans playoff chances continue to dwindle by the minute.
For all of the preseason predictions that were muddled together back in August, so many teams in the NFL haven't lived up to the hype. Dallas, Cincinnati and now the Houston Texans are struggling to convince fans they are indeed a talented side, and we now find ourselves discussing another problem-riddled team.
Perhaps Andre Johnson's frustrations with Cortland Finnegan suggest otherwise though.
No, all brawling aside, the Houston Texans have other problems other than onfield chemistry, and for once, this entire issue could easily be solved with a simple swap at the head coaching role sometime this offseason.
Don't get me wrong here, Gary Kubiak has been great for this team. Gone are the days of the cakewalk Texans, and now we arrive in an era that sees Houston as a legitimate threat week in and week out, no matter what the circumstances.
Better than this fact, is also the inclusion of Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub to this team, not to mention the highly intelligent promotion of Arian Foster, who has excelled this year.
But after looking at Kubiak's portfolio, he has been at it for a while. Since the 2006 season, Kubiak has been making the calls, and although the Texans continue to establish their identity, no playoff appearance in the past four years has been recorded.
This year it looks like another wasted opportunity unless the AFC South takes another turn for the worst, and yet again, the thought of a new head coach will plague the Texans downtime.
To answer your question, yes, Jon Gruden is a fitting match. The Texans look to find themselves after eight years in the league, and what better way to discover this fact by bringing in an experienced head coach?
It would seemingly make perfect sense.
Odds Jon Gruden Takes Over Houston: 50%
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They say never to trust a man with a mustache. For Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano, this theory is becoming more and more true by the day.
Proving to be repetitive once again, the Dolphins are another team who have been all fizz this season. Given that the AFC East is quite possibly the toughest division in the NFL, Miami's acquisition of Brandon Marshall during the offseason looked favorable to push Tunatown over the playoff edge this year.
Boy were we wrong.
Instead the Dolphins have been bruised and battered this season, and although Miami do sit at 6-5 on the season, there are many unsatisfying highlights to accompany Tony Sparano's 2010 campaign.
First, the quarterback situation has been mediocre. Chad Henne was doing just fine up until a Week 10 injury, and even though Chad Pennington appeared as a decent replacement, he too fell down with his typical shoulder injury.
Secondly, the Dolphins offense has struggled to score points. Ranked 29th in the league, Miami have had a tough time getting the ball in the end zone under three different quarterbacks at a time, and as a result, Brandon Marshall has only 693 yards and one touchdown on the year.
Thirdly, if Miami did have their offense down pat, this team would be doing just fine. Currently, Miami is ranked sixth in overall defense, and their pass defense continues to impress.
Some may say it would be a bit hasty to show Tony Sparano the door after only three seasons at the helm, others say it is time for him to go.
Jon Gruden on the other hand, another perfect fit, due to the fact that Gruden could step in and be able to work with a talented group of players instantly and also communicate with the trustworthy Bill Parcells at a moments notice.
These two old timers could do wonders for this team, and with little recruiting left to do, one slight move at the coaching spot could mean all the difference.
Odds Jon Gruden Takes Over Miami: 65%
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Minnesota Vikings interim head coach Leslie Frazier recorded his first win at the helm this weekend, knocking off the Washington Redskins in a 17-13 victory.
Comparing the Vikings to the Dallas Cowboys is quite rare to do. If these two teams were ever more similar though, you'd have to rewind quite a while back in the history books to stumble upon a situation quite like we are seeing now.
For the most part, the Vikings season looks to be over. Visanthe Shiancoe may have tweeted that the 2010 campaign is far from finished, but with the NFC North still providing explosive storylines week in and week out, it's hard to find room for the struggling 4-7 Vikings.
So now with Brett Favre facing his final five weeks in the league, 2011 becomes priority, and the question of Leslie Frazier's coaching tenure comes into play.
To be quite frank, now that Brad Childress is gone, don't be surprised to see the Vikings coaching staff rally behind Frazier. One win in the account and sure to be many more to come, even with Tavaris Jackson likely starting next year, most people in Minnesota would like to see Frazier given a shot.
Should the loyal Purple People Eater fans overlook Jon Gruden's possibility?
If Minnesota are smart they will play it by day. Jon Gruden may choose to coach, or he may not—it's as simple as that. One thing is for sure though, Jon Gruden is famous for his three-year minor coaching career with the Green Bay Packers, a factor that could come into play one way or another.
Leslie Frazier looks to be the chosen man until any other news pops up. One win in the account doesn't say much, but hey, he deserves a chance right?
Until Jon Gruden makes his mind up, the Vikings will most likely stick it out.
Odds Jon Gruden Takes Over Minnesota: 40%
San Francisco 49ers
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The final team in the coaching whirlpool presents itself with the San Francisco 49ers still answering questions about their current head coach, Mike Singletary.
If you weren't watching football when Mike Singletary was a player, make sure you watch some tape of this great motivator. Outspoken, loud and almost Ray Lewis-like, Singletary has allowed his emotion to spill over onto the sidelines in his time with San Francisco.
Has this raw energy paid off however?
By conducting a simple poll throughout the NFL, everybody loves Mike Singletary. At the same time, all of this praise for a man who has built a man made hill in the 49ers practice facility is still copping some flack for San Francisco's poor 3-7 record this year.
Just like Miami, the quarterback position is an issue. Alex Smith looked firm in preseason play, only to be replaced by Troy Smith, who has taken a slight downward turn in past weeks. Throw in the fact that the 49ers offense is ranked 26th overall, and you have game, set, match with five weeks remaining.
It's been problem after problem for the 49ers, even though their defense has been above par. If Jon Gruden was to step into the team though, he may be quite capable of ironing out the few kinks remaining in this team.
Quite possibly the main appeal for Gruden would be the history in San Francisco. Taking over a team who once featured Joe Montana may take Gruden's fancy, especially being an ex Green Bay Packer coach.
If that doesn't get the job done, then there is always the recruiting issue. San Francisco need some wide receivers and perhaps another running back to compliment Frank Gore when the going gets tough.
Jon Gruden likes a task, and the 49ers present one. This is another highly favorable option for the Monday Night Football host, but right now, San Francisco do seem intent on allowing Mike Singletary every opportunity possible to turn this team around.
Odds Jon Gruden Takes Over San Francisco: 35%