Shutdown Corner

Could it be time for Jon Gruden to return to Philly?

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Jon Gruden might be ready to scratch that itch. (AP)

Former Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden, now positioned at the top of the ESPN NFL analyst tree, might be looking for a way back into an NFL head coaching position. This, from Dan Pompei of the National Football Post on Sunday morning:

People around the NFL who know are convinced Jon Gruden is coming back to coaching this year, provided the right situation presents itself. I’ve been told Gruden feels he needs to come back now if he’s ever going to do it. He already has been away from the game for four years, and it becomes increasingly difficult for a coach to return the longer he is away. The right situation for Gruden very well could be in Philadelphia. People close to him think he has a good chance of landing there.

Gruden spent 1992 through 1994 on the Green Bay Packers' staff with current Eagles head coach Andy Reid, and then went on to three years as Philly's offensive coordinator from 1995 through 1997. Then, four years at the Oakland Raiders' head coach, and seven more as the head man in Tampa Bay.

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It's a near-certainty that today's game against the New York Giants will be the last of Reid's 14-year tenure with the Eagles. Gruden hasn't coached since the end of the 2008 season, but he's stayed involved with the game via copious amounts of tape study and his ever-popular QB Camp series, in which he sits down with draft prospect quarterbacks and find out what they're all about.

He did so with rookie Nick Foles, ostensibly the Eagles' future at quarterback, and Gruden told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times in November that Foles is the kind of quarterback he could work with.

I had  Nick Foles [as a broadcaster] in the preseason against New England. Michael Vick got hurt on the fifth or sixth play, and Foles went the distance, on the road in Foxborough. If you like prototype pocket passers with some functional mobility and a tremendous amount of toughness, Foles is interesting.

What really impressed me in the preseason was they weren’t running generic formations. They ran about 30 different formations out of about eight different personnel groupings in successive plays. So I see him recognizing coverages. I see him getting to second and third receivers, just like you’d want a quarterback to do in that system, and I love his NFL size. He reminds me a lot of Brad Johnson, from his football character to his ability to decipher a lot quickly, and we won a championship with Brad.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did indeed win Super Bowl XXXVII at the end of the 2002 season, though they did it far more with the best defense in the league than they did behind Johnson's accomplishments. The Eagles' current defense is a far cry from the great Bucs unit of Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, and John Lynch. Still, if Gruden wants back into the NFL, he'll no doubt have a number of options, and a return to Philly might not be out of the question.

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