New York Jets Head Coach Candidate: Jon Gruden

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Disclaimer: Rex Ryan might not be fired at the end of the season. I do not necessarily endorse Ryan's dismissal, but it is a possibility. In the event it happens, we are going to profile some possibilities who might replace him.

Name: Jon "Chucky" Gruden

Current Job: Color Analyst, ESPN's Monday Night Football

NFL Experience:

Other Head Coaching Experience:

Pros:

  • Has significant experience, most notably on the offensive side of the ball.
  • During the 2000 season with the Raiders, Gruden's team finished 12-4, won their division for the first time since 1990, and made it to the AFC Championship, before losing 16-3 to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
  • Won the 2003 Super Bowl with the Buccaneers.
  • Has compiled a 95-81 regular season record.
  • Is only 49 years old.

Cons:

  • Won the Super Bowl with a team largely composed of players brought in by his predecessor, Tony Dungy.
  • Failed to win a single playoff game in the five years following his Super Bowl victory.
  • Showed no ability to rebuild the Buccaneers after aging stars retired or were injured.
  • As mentioned above, Gruden has shown little ability to develop young talent, and prefers veterans over young players.

Bottom Line:

There are a few things that really stick out to me when I consider whether or not I would want to hire Jon Gruden as the next head coach of the New York Jets. The first is his demeanor on Monday Night Football. Everybody knows how over-exuberant he is and how much he praises even the worst of players. Rex Ryan has gotten a lot of criticism for praising underperforming players such as Vlad Ducasse, Eric Smith, and scrubs like Caleb Schlauderaff. Imagine the press conferences with Gruden at the helm, and how unbearable they would be. But that's a superficial point, a personal pet peeve of mine.

The second point is how little Gruden was able to do after he took Dungy's team to the Super Bowl. He was 0-2 in playoff games in the years after he made it to the big dance. He showed no ability to coach up young talent, and tried to rely on vested veterans. To me, that's a damning indictment that he wasn't able to rebuild the team Dungy built. As a team that's heading into a rebuild, it's something we should stay away from. Think Rex plays favorites with veterans? He ain't got nothin' on Gruden.

I read Pat Kirwan's book, Take Your Eye Off The Ball (which I highly recommend. It's fantastic, and since Kirwan used to work for the Jets, he gives some fascinating insight into the team) and something in particular really stood out to me. In the beginning of the book, Kirwan is explaining the fundamentals of an offensive system, and he breaks down play-calling and what makes up a play-call. He's talking about a basic play-call, "I Weak Right Boot Right 819 Fullback Opposite." Under a West Coast Offense, the same call would be "I Weak Right X Fly Stop Z Curl Fullback Free." Here's what Kirwan had to say about the differences:

Personally, I think there's too much verbiage there and the sheer memorization required can paralyze a young quarterback. Too many words create too many opportunities for mistakes. I prefer using the fewest number of words to tell the maximum number of people what to do.

Sound familiar? It should. This was the exact same problem the Jets had with Brian Schottenheimer. The verbiage was too complicated, and even Rex had no idea what was happening. That's what led to so many false starts and breakdowns in execution. It's also a similar style of offense to what Gruden runs. But wait, Gruden makes it even more complicated:

Jon Gruden has always used complicated verbiage in his play calls. While some coaches prefer calling routes off numbers - a "939" out of an I formation would be a 9 route, a 3 route, and a 9 route by the three guys going out into the pattern - Gruden might say, "Shift to I, Z Motion, Strong Curl, Flat Swing." In my opinion, using terminology like that can be asking for trouble.

As you can imagine, this will create problems with Mark Sanchez, or even worse, an inexperienced rookie that we've just drafted. As Kirwan says:

That's one of the reasons Gruden prefers veteran quarterbacks. He needed someone who could handle the language of the offense, never mind the execution of it. Young guys couldn't handle that, and that's a big reason why he was never able to develop a young quarterback in Tampa Bay.

Sound like a guy you're interested in? Not me. Pass.

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