With all teams playing eight games and some already with nine in the books, the coaches who are coaching for their jobs through December 31 are coming in to focus. So is one of the potential candidates to replace them.
Former Raiders and Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden took a break from talking turkey hole to talk turkey with Rich Eisen on Friday. And it’s clear that, regardless of whether Gruden ultimately decides to return in 2018, it’s worth making a call.
“It’s in your blood,” Gruden told Eisen regarding a possible return to coaching, via JoeBucsFan.com. “You get some people calling maybe to see if you’re interested in coaching again and maybe if you can help recommend a couple of guys. I’m pretty much involved with every level of football every day of the week, so I try to help if I can.
“One of these days, who knows, Rich? One of these days, you never know.”
Translation: One of those days could be coming soon.
“I have talked to people in years past. I plan on just keeping my options open,” Gruden said. ”If something comes along down the road, we’ll take a look at it.”
Translation: Call me.
It’s a very delicate spot for Gruden. Coaches who fear losing their jobs typically don’t appreciate it when a candidate for one of those jobs starts waving and shouting “over here!” while owners are trying to figure out what to do with the coaches they have. And with Monday Night Football games over the rest of the year including embattled (that sounds nicer than “sucky”) teams like the Texans, Ravens, Bengals, and Buccaneers, things could get a little awkward in the production meetings.
Things definitely will get awkward on December 18, when Gruden returns to Raymond James Stadium to call the Week 15 game against the Falcons — and to enter the Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor. With the pirate ship taking currently taking on more water than the Orca, it could be even worse in five weeks, which will make fans chant even more loudly for Gruden’s return to the team.
If ownership, which fired four coaches in eight years before hiring Dirk Koetter, decides before Week 15 to make it five in 10, don’t be shocked if Dirk already is residing in the belly of the shark when Chucky comes back to Tampa.
Until then, Gruden will be vaguely whistling Show Me the Way to Go Home.