NFL: Which Failed NFL Team Can Lure Jon Gruden out of Retirement?
Still, I wonder which, if any, failed NFL team could lure Gruden out of retirement to become head coach of their franchise?
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired Gruden in January of 2009, his first inclination was to learn the spread offense. He wanted to and did eventually hook up with the University of Oregon's head football coach, Chip Kelly to learn what the Ducks were beginning to perfect with their version of the spread.
Oregon's Kelly even offered Gruden the position of offensive coordinator, which Gruden obviously declined.
It seems obvious that Gruden could be enticed to quit the cushy desk job, though, in favor of a situation in the NFL that suited his designs of implementing a true spread offense.
The way the NFL has evolved over the last few decades since Bill Walsh installed the West Coast offense in San Francisco (truly it began in Cincinnati about a decade earlier) makes the spread offense the perfect counter.
So, is this offseason the right time for Gruden to return? Let's look at the potential candidates, shall we?
I like to refer to head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, Andy Reid, as the "tinkerer in chief" of the NFL. Reid and the Eagles tinkered a bit too much over the last couple of years, and now the franchise is sinking fast.
In my opinion, Gruden shouldn't touch the Eagles with a 10-foot-pole. There is too much to sort out, too many irrational contracts and too many chefs in one kitchen.
The Eagles need a complete overhaul, but I don't think Gruden is the man to do it.
The Minnesota Vikings will surely abandon the Leslie Frazier experiment at the end of the 2011 NFL season. This leaves the door wide open for Gruden to come into a franchise that needs an infusion of something new, and fast.
The biggest issue for the Vikings if they were trying to lure Gruden is that the roster isn't set up to run the option.
The Vikings just spent a first-round selection in the 2011 NFL draft (12th overall) to draft quarterback Christian Ponder. Additionally, the Vikings locked up running back Adrian Peterson long-term with a deal worth $100 million.
The Vikings also have an offensive line that is more adept at pushing straight forward rather than lateral movement, and the spread requires lineman that are light on their feet.
The likelihood of Gruden becoming interested in the inevitable vacancy in Minnesota is not good.
The Jacksonville Jaguars franchise is in prime condition to lure Gruden. The team has just fired long-time head coach Jack Del Rio, and the team is also being sold.
Like the Dolphins, the Jaguars could offer control of personnel decisions to Gruden to sweeten the pot.
The Jaguars drafted quarterback Blaine Gabbert with the 10th pick of the 2011 NFL draft. Despite having a tough season, Gabbert is a perfect fit to install a spread offense. He ran one in Missouri with great success.
The biggest problem for the Jaguars is that they are seriously short on talent at the wide receiver/tight end position. This is something that can be addressed in the draft and in free agency.
The Jaguars have a shot at luring Gruden out of retirement, but I don't see this one happening. Gruden might view it as a challenge, however, and be inclined to right the ship for a franchise that has been veering badly off course for a number of years.
If the Indianapolis Colts wanted to lure Jon Gruden to coach the franchise, the first thing they would need to do would be fire general manager Bill Polian and head coach Jim Caldwell. I'm not convinced owner Jim Irsay would be willing to cut ties with his long-time co-workers.
If they were axed, however, the Colts organization might provide the perfect place for Gruden to execute his dream of installing a spread offense in the NFL.
Imagine a deal where the Colts send the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft to the Denver Broncos in exchange for Tim Tebow and draft picks. Then, the Colts could trade Payton Manning for more draft picks, bolstering and securing the future of the franchise by getting younger and more athletic on the offensive line and in the secondary.
This is a scenario that might entice Gruden to cross back over the lines into the competitive arena.
If I was Jon Gruden, the Miami Dolphins are a team I'd consider leaving the booth to coach. The Dolphins are most certainly going to fire current head coach Tony Sparano at the end of the year.
If the Dolphins were smart, the organization would also get rid of general manager Jeff Ireland. He hasn't been the answer, and if he were gone the team could offer personnel control to Gruden.
The Dolphins will end up drafting early enough to compete for the services of Baylor phenom, Robert Griffen III. Gruden would love the chance to get his hands on an athlete of his caliber.
The Dolphins were the team responsible for the brief, yet successful run of the "wildcat" offense that took the NFL by storm for a bunch of games a couple years ago. So, it isn't a huge stretch to imagine this team running a full-blown spread offense.
The Dolphins have a lot to offer, and I wouldn't be shocked to see Gruden end up in Miami.
So, Where Will He Land?
Jon Gruden will likely stay in the booth at least one more season after 2011. The situations in Indianapolis and Miami seem to be interesting enough to cause Gruden to test the waters, but I don't think those organizations are the right fit for the fiery coach.
Gruden needs to find a franchise who's owner shares his vision for transforming the way things are done on offense in the NFL.
Even in Denver, where Tim Tebow led the Broncos to another last minute, game winning drive against the Minnesota Vikings, you know that John Elway cringes every time Tebow throws the ball. It rubs NFL people the wrong way to see a "college offense" being run on Sundays.
There will be an owner sometime soon that will be eager to share Gruden's vision for the future of the NFL and will give him all the tools he would need to do so.
It remains to be seen who that owner will be, but Jon Gruden will make his way back to the NFL.