As Jason pointed out on Wednesday, NFL Network Insider Albert Breer writes that Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is a leading candidate for the Jacksonville's head coaching vacancy. We should point out that Breer's report suggests nothing about an interview, nor an interview request from the Jacksonville Jaguars. But if the report is true, that will come soon enough. For now we throw out a point, counter-point, why Gruden leaves for Jacksonville and why he stays in Cincinnati.
Why He Leaves For Jacksonville. Gruden has deep ties in Florida, specifically the Orlando region where he spent roughly ten years as either the head coach or the quarterback for the AFL's Orlando Predators, which plays roughly 130-140 miles from Jacksonville. Before being hired by the Cincinnati Bengals as the offensive coordinator, Gruden spent another two seasons as the head coach for the UFL's Florida Tuskers and somewhere along the way he spent another seven seasons on Jon Gruden's staff with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But more specifically the track record Gruden has with developing young quarterbacks hasn't gone unnoticed. As a rookie quarterback Andy Dalton has broken several franchise and league rookie records, all the while implementing an entirely new offense during an offseason that coaches weren't allowed to speak with players. If not for Cam Newton's season in Carolina, Dalton most certainly would be the league's offensive rookie of the year.
Dalton's development, we feel, is the biggest reason why Jacksonville would make the call due to the Jaguars young quarterback in Blaine Gabbert.
Why He Stays In Cincinnati. Quite honestly we have a hard time believing that Gruden's limited NFL experience would offer him the fast-track path towards head coaching after only one season as an offensive coordinator. Granted he's done well in the development of Andy Dalton, but this offense isn't a scoring machine either, playing conservatively while taking the occasional shot down the field. If not for Cincinnati's defense, the Bengals aren't in the postseason this year. The ceiling this offense has over them is unlimited, but they're not even ranked amongst the upper half of the league's offenses in most major statistical categories.
But most importantly Gruden is simply inexperienced right now as a leader of men at the NFL level. Sure his head coaching experience is vast from the minor league's of football, but if NFL ownership used a coach's experience in every football league other than the NFL, we'd see more evidence of that. Quick. Name a head coach today in the NFL that made a name for himself in the AFL or UFL, spent one season as a coordinator and then became a head coach in the NFL.
We're not downgrading Gruden's abilities. In fact he very well could be a fine head coach in the NFL. The question isn't if he'll be a head coach. The question is when and we're forced to believe that his limited experience may suggest his time isn't now.
And quite honestly one has to ask if Gruden even thinks Jacksonville would be the best scenario to get his feet wet as a head coach in the NFL.