For years, Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden was regarded as a guy who was riding his brother’s coattails. The younger brother of Jon Gruden began his coaching career in the Arena Football League, and even though he won a pair of titles with the Orlando Preadtors, the perception was that the Gruden brothers occupied two different planes in the coaching hierarchy — especially since Jon Gruden gave Jay Gruden a position on the Buccaneers’ staff from 2002 through 2008, and no one else ever offered Jay Gruden an NFL shot, in any capacity.
That changed this year, in large part because Jay Gruden finally was willing to move from the Orlando/Tampa area. (Most recently, Jay Gruden coached the soon-to-be defunct UFL’s already-defunct Florida Tuskers.) The Panthers considered him for the job of quarterbacks coach, and then Bengals coach Marvin Lewis pulled off a stunner, hiring Jay Gruden to be the team’s offensive coordinator.
Now, with the Bengals at 4-2 and Jay Gruden presiding over an offense being driven by the rookie quarterback and rookie receiver, the buzz is building for Jay Gruden to become an NFL head coach.
Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel has become the first person to make the case for Jay to be considered for a top job in football’s top league. “I have a long way to go before that happens,” Jay Gruden told Bianchi. “I’m just trying to figure out a way to beat Seattle in our next game. I don’t think about what might be four or five years down the road. I’ve never worried about any job except the one I have.”
But will it be four or five years down the road? Another guy who worked Jon Gruden’s staff, Mike Tomlin, became a head coach after only one year as a defensive coordinator in Minnesota. And the success of the Harbaugh brothers and the Ryan brothers will cause more and more people to think that Jay Gruden can thrive in the NFL, too, just like Jon did.
And so, eventually, nearly 20 percent of the league’s 32 teams could be run by a trio of brother acts: the Harbaughs, the Ryans, and the Grudens.