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Philadelphia Eagles coaching candidate profiles: Jay Gruden, Bengals OC

This is the latest in our series of profiles on prospective Eagles coaching candidates. For others, click here.

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We are profiling all the likely candidates for the Eagles head coaching position in 2013. For the rest of the series, check out this hub.

Next up is Jay Gruden, offensive coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals.


Nashville Kats (1997)
(Offensive Coordinator)
Orlando Predators (1998-2001)
(Head Coach)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002-2008)
(Offensive Assistant)
Orlando Predators (2004-2008)
(Head Coach)
Florida Tuskers (2009)
(Offensive Coordinator)
Florida Tuskers (2010)
(Head Coach/General Manager)
Cincinnati Bengals (2011-present)
(Offensive Coordinator)

Why he could work

To be honest, this section and the "why he may not be the guy" section will probably look a lot alike, because much of what you think about Gruden depends on how you view his career.

Looking over his resume, you may not recognize a lot of those teams. It's because they're not college or pro squads... they're Arena league and UFL teams. That is where most of Jay Gruden's experience lies, both as a player and coach.

Gruden was a good QB in college at Louisville and went on to "star" in the Arena league, winning 4 titles and being named league MVP once. He then became a head coach in the league and did well there too, winning 2 more titles.

Gruden would later move on to become head coach of the UFL's Florida Tuskers. So he does actually have about 8 years of head coaching experience. That's more than any other candidate the Eagles have been connected to this offseason.

His NFL experience started with a couple seasons as an offensive assistant under his more famous brother John in Tampa. He actually continued to coach in the Arena league at the same time. His first big NFL job came last year when he was hired as offensive coordinator of the Bengals.

His arrival in Cincy coincided with the drafting of Andy Dalton in the second round. Gruden helped guide him to a Pro Bowl in his rookie season.

Why he may not be the guy

All that stuff above about Gruden's experience... that can go here too. He does have a lot of head coaching experience, but it's in the Arena league. Does that count? In some ways yes, he's still managing a staff and a team. However, they're barely even professional players, the rules of the game are very different and let's be honest... the stakes just aren't the same at the NFL or college level.

Looking at his NFL experience, its kind of hard to see how Gruden is even viewed as a hot, up and coming assistant. In his first season, the Bengals finished 20th in total offense and this year slipped back to 22nd.

And while his work with Andy Dalton in the QBs rookie year is likely what got the league's attention, his work with Dalton this year has to bring some doubt. He's rarely played very well against good teams and has been downright awful in 2 straight playoff games.

Gruden's offense as a whole has really been terrible in the postseason managing just 23 points in two games.

Final thoughts

I really have to wonder whether he'd even have gotten a shot to be an offensive coordinator in this league if his last name wasn't Gruden. I just don't see how he's suddenly a guy every team wants to talk to. The Cincy offense isn't bad. They don't move the ball great, but they do score points.

Still, when you see guys like Gus Bradley doing outstanding things with the Seattle D and Mike McCoy doing outstanding things with the Denver O... why is Jay Gruden and his mediocre Bengals offense getting so many NFL interviews? Is his Arena league coaching record really that impressive?

I said the other day that while I have my favorites, I'd be pretty much on board with almost anyone who the Eagles hired. After all, there is no formula to finding a head coach. Good ones can come from anywhere and maybe that includes the Arena league... but I can't say I'd be very happy if Jay Gruden is who the Eagles ended up with.

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