Jon Gruden may return to coaching
Halfway through this do-or-die season for Andy Reid, the Eagles sport a 3-5 record, which puts his coaching career here on life support. Barring an unforeseen team metamorphosis, the Eagles will have a new voice leading them in 2013. Owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman, having to compile a list of potential successors, may have another unexpected name to add to that list.
Earlier today, SportsRadio 94 WIP’s Howard Eskin, reported via sources, that ESPN Monday Night Football analyst, Jon Gruden, wants to be a head coach again. Gruden, who coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory after the 2002 season over the Oakland Raiders, whom he coached previously. Gruden also has coaching experience in Philadelphia, when he was the offensive coordinator under Ray Rhodes from 1995 to 1997. Coincidentally, he has the same agent as Roseman, which could make negotiations amicable. As the same agent represents Reid, he and the organization seemingly have a good relationship.
In an additional report, Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com sights sources that Gruden has already put out feelers for potential assistant coaches, including former Eagles defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo. Gruden apparently would prefer a big- market team, like Philadelphia or Dallas this time and would have to be sold on available pieces here or anywhere else. But all this is speculation at this point and if Gruden isn’t satisfied with any potential openings, he reportedly would be more than happy to stay analyzing games on ESPN.
In terms of available pieces on the Eagles, Michael Vick’s contract for next season is not guaranteed. The Eagles can cut Vick after the season and have no salary cap hit if they do so before three days after the Super Bowl. Vick’s salary for next season is $16 million, $3 million of which is guaranteed if he’s still on the roster, after the three days. If the Eagles don’t make the playoffs or make a very deep run, Reid is most likely fired and Vick surely will be released. Looking at that circumstance, Gruden would be the perfect choice to mold Nick Foles. Gruden knows offensive schemes and formations and would do wonders with the 6’6″ pocket-passing quarterback. Vick would be a nightmare for Gruden, who loves quarterbacks that make plays from the pocket and get the ball out of their hands quickly and with rhythm. Two attributes Vick never possessed. Gruden would also push for a bigger receiver to compliment DeSean Jackson and he’d definitely revamp the offensive line. He would also be attracted to the Eagles because of how desperate Lurie would be to bring a high-profile coach here that’s won a championship and could possibly put this franchise over-the-top the way Gruden did in Tampa. Plus being an offensive league he could bring the firepower back to Philly.
On the flip side, he may not want to come here depending on how much power he’d have over personnel and if he would have to defer to Roseman, who signed a 4-year contract extension this summer, and is going nowhere.
Obviously in my view, if Gruden were to become available, Lurie should do whatever he needs to do to make him the next head coach. He’s smart, innovative, touch and the disciplinarian this veteran team desperately needs. He’s a coach the players would instantly respect because he’s won a ring. Bringing in another team’s coordinator or a college coach may mean the Eagles would have to take a step or two back before there’s any progress. Something an already starving fan base may not be able to cope with. They certainly don’t have the defensive personnel to run a 3-4, with no true nose tackle, no position for Jason Babin or Trent Cole and don’t forget that Demeco Ryans couldn’t play in that scheme in Houston.
So if the reports are true and the Eagles’ season ends on Dec. 30th, Philly could be welcoming back the man they call ‘Chucky ‘ and the other that was a scapegoat.