Anticipation grows of a Jon Gruden return to Tampa

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As the end of the regular season (and the launch of the annual coaching carousel) approaches, no one is saying anything about Jon Gruden returning or not returning to coaching. And that potentially says everything.

There’s a growing sense in league circles, as explained by multiple league sources to PFT over the past two days, that Gruden will return to Tampa Bay as the next coach of the Buccaneers.

Gruden last commented on the situation three weeks ago, at a Tampa-area press event that, coincidentally, a handful of reporters covering the team were told about. Said Gruden on the possibility of returning to coaching, “I’ve got a job I’m trying to hang onto. I love football, I love what I’m doing and I can’t control all the reports.”

He may not be able to control some of the reports (like this one), but it was Gruden who pulled the rip cord on the lawnmower by musing about coaching at a time when most assumed he’d migrated to the Bill Cowher don’t-bother-to-even-ask phase of his career.

Ever since Gruden’s name emerged as a candidate to return to the job he held from 2002 through 2008, there has been no definitive statement from Gruden or from his current employer that he’s not leaving. In past years, chatter about teams being interested in Gruden ended with ESPN announcing a new contract for Gruden. This year, nothing.

It’s possible that ESPN hasn’t extended Gruden’s deal because ESPN has been trying to get Gruden to take less money. With the subscriber base scattering and ratings way down, the money paid to Gruden in past years may need to be adjusted. There’s already talk that ESPN has tried to squeeze Gruden to accept a lesser deal. If so, that would be one of the various factors for Gruden to weigh when deciding whether to return to coaching.

For now, the silence has caused some to conclude that it’s just a matter of him before Dirk Koetter is out and Jon Gruden is back, nine years  (and four replacement coaches) after he was fired.

53 responses to “Anticipation grows of a Jon Gruden return to Tampa

  1. IIRC, Gruden lit a fire under an outstanding 2002 team to win the SB. After that – not much. I don’t see him turning around this lousy club after being out of coaching for so many year.

  2. I don’t understand how this guy’s reputation is so overinflated? He’s been out of coaching, what, a decade? And thinks he can just flip the switch back on?

    Good luck with that Tampa.

    New audibles from Winston will include: “Turkey Hole”, “Eat the W!!” and “Crab Legs”

  3. I don’t get it. A million years ago Gruden won with a team that Dungy built…over the team that he built, and Tony’s team destroyed Jon’s team. So why he great demand? Please don’t misunderstand, I’m all for getting him out of the booth, but if you are a Bucs fan, is this really what you want?

  4. He’s a WCO guy like Andy,Doug, and all the rest. The RB, QB and WR’s will all do better and his ultimate success will lie in the hands of who his DC is. The O will be fine.

  5. irishgary says:
    December 29, 2017 at 1:01 pm
    Poor Tampa, that would mean 4 more years of lousy teams

    ///////////////////////

    If that is the case the “ bay of pigs” games will return.

  6. Gruden deserves the credit for coaching a team that was already talented and getting the few key pieces needed to win a SB…

    I question whether he can start from scratch and basically build a winning team…
    They need a culture change… Cellar dwellars of their division 6 of the 9 years…
    Many of those players only know mediocrity!

  7. Art Shell was fired by Oakland after a 9-7 season (Gruden was also fired after going 9-7). Al Davis said he made a mistake firing Shell and rehired him 12 years later, but fired him again after one 2-14 season.

  8. rudywasoffsides says:
    December 29, 2017 at 1:06 pm
    Gruden’s not going anywhere….That was Tony Dungy’s Superbowl and he knows it.

    ——–

    I read an article a few years ago that compared Gruden’s quick success with that of other coaches. I can’t find it now. Anyway, Tomlin had a higher percentage of holdover players from the Cowher era when he won the SB two years later than Gruden had of Dungy’s players. Why does no one ever say Tomlin won with Cowher’s players?

  9. The legend of Jon Gruden’s greatness continues to soar. He’s been out of coaching for 10 years (ultimately fired by the Bucs) but who could forget his unremarkable 4 – 12 season in 2006. Hey, maybe he can get some coaching tips from his brother. This is probably just a shakedown for more money from ESPN.

  10. Gruden was at Paul Brown Stadium during the week right before the info came out about Marvin Lewis leaving. Not saying he is going to the Bengals, but it is very curious right after that it was coming out about Lewis being gone and Gruden making a comeback……and he is a Dayton, OH alumni. Those are all facts and there has been nothing really said about Koetter being fired.

  11. rudywasoffsides says:
    December 29, 2017 at 1:06 pm
    Gruden’s not going anywhere….That was Tony Dungy’s Superbowl and he knows it.
    __________________________________
    Anytime someone says this don’t think about the fact that same year Calahan took Gruden’s team to the Superbowl

  12. If it will help get him out of the announcing booth and having to hear about things like Turkey Holes….I’ll chip in to get him a contract he can’t refuse.

  13. firerogergoodellnow says:
    December 29, 2017 at 1:27 pm
    Art Shell was fired by Oakland after a 9-7 season (Gruden was also fired after going 9-7). Al Davis said he made a mistake firing Shell and rehired him 12 years later, but fired him again after one 2-14 season.
    __________________________________
    Falso. Jon Gruden was traded to the Buccaneers after going 10-6 and losing in the divisional round because of the Tuck Rule

  14. Rene House says:
    December 29, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    And everybody THOUGHT Jeff Fisher was Mr .500 (.510)… Gruden .509 (57-55)
    ————————

    Next time, don’t cherry pick the data.

    Jeff Fisher is 173-165-1 with a .512 winning percentage.
    Jon Gruden is 95-81 with a .540 winning percentage. And a Super Bowl win.

  15. He’s never going to do it. This rumor comes up every year. Where is the upside for him? He can continue to announce indefinitely and make more money than he can as a coach with way less stress. Or he can go back to coaching, have a couple losing seasons, get fired and never be re-hired as an announce because the luster is gone. And he already has a ring.

  16. “A team Dungy built”, hear that a lot. Except, he couldn’t win with it. He needed to inherit a HOF QB, HOF WR, a HOF TE and a HOF O-Lineman to get him to the promised land. Gruden wins Super Bowl with less than what dungy had in Indy, and he only did it once with a stacked roster. Gruden just couldn’t find his QB, and lost his job because of it. He would have that in Tampa now, if he goes back, Tampa wins the NFC south next season, I’d bet on it. I love Chucky, on the sideline, not in the booth.

  17. This would be hilarious. He can deal with the rage fueled quarterback the Bucs have, and then we can see some serious coach-QB fights on the sideline.

  18. TomsulasMustache says:
    December 29, 2017 at 1:42 pm
    firerogergoodellnow says:
    December 29, 2017 at 1:27 pm
    Art Shell was fired by Oakland after a 9-7 season (Gruden was also fired after going 9-7). Al Davis said he made a mistake firing Shell and rehired him 12 years later, but fired him again after one 2-14 season.
    __________________________________
    Falso. Jon Gruden was traded to the Buccaneers after going 10-6 and losing in the divisional round because of the Tuck Rule
    __________________________________
    The Bucs fired Gruden in 2008, in which they started 9-3 but lost four in a row.

  19. to the whole debate “Gruden won SB with dungy’s team”… Those are just fans trying to give dungy credit he doesn’t deserve… The internet makes it easy to look it up and see not many dungy players was on that team… The OC change made a difference and the DC change made a difference…

    What they should look at and realize is that both teams in that SB was Grudens!

  20. Can we please stop with the “Gruden won with a team Dungy built”. 1st off Dungy DID NOT draft Lynch, Sapp, or Brooks. Sam Wyche did. 2nd their were 25 new players on the SuperBowl team that were not there the year before. Also Gruden did win the NFC south 3 times in his 7 years in Tampa. The Bucs sold their soul to get Gruden. They gave up two 1st round picks and two 2nd round picks to get him from the raiders. So the Bucs had to use FA to try and continue their success, and no franchise can succeed that way. Also in his final year in Tampa the late season collapse was b/c Monte Kiffen(the DC) announced that he was leaving at the end of the year with 4 weeks left to take a job with his Son at Tennessee. The Bucs defense went from giving up like 21 points a game to over 30 in the last 4 games(which they lost all 4) and Gruden was shown the door.

  21. Anyone who builds the future around a formerly c- head coach deserves what they get. Gruden exposes his below average understanding of football every time he works a game. Both ESPN and any team that hires him deserve Gruden.

  22. If Gruden wants to prove he’s the greatest coach that ever was as his reps seem to keep pushing – send him to Cleveland! Get them to .500 even and he’s Coach of the Year hands down.

  23. I don’t get the motivation for this. He’s already achieved the greatest possible outcome in Tampa – winning a Super Bowl, and their first one to boot.

    Anything he could possibly do in Tampa would be less than that. Coaching is already thankless enough without going somewhere where your own shadow is bigger than you’ll ever be.

    As for this “Dungy’s team” stuff – a lot of people build good teams. But only a few win Super Bowls with them. Dungy wasn’t good enough to do so. And I think what we really all know is that he was along for the ride while Manning got Indy’s only trophy during that time.

  24. I know the NFL loves to recycle, and the fans seem to love it too. Facts suck but Jon Gruden was hardly a great coach. His lifetime coaching percentage, including playoffs, is a mediocre .540. He went .500 with the Raiders twice, had one great season at .750 (12-4) followed by a pretty good one at 10-6, but those two years didn’t get it done in the playoffs and was fired.

    Then came Tampa. Won after he took Dungy’s team over, then went .438, .313, .688 (1 and done in the playoffs), .250, and then .563 twice. And then he was fired. I would have fired him after 4-12 with that post SB record.

    And he isn’t a very good announcer either.

    What you call anticipation I call a typical inability to look at facts when looking for leaders. Most coaches with these kinds of records wouldn’t be highly sought after, and definitely not coming back “with anticipation.”

  25. mmack66 says:
    December 29, 2017 at 1:44 pm
    Rene House says:
    December 29, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    And everybody THOUGHT Jeff Fisher was Mr .500 (.510)… Gruden .509 (57-55)
    ————————

    Next time, don’t cherry pick the data.

    Jeff Fisher is 173-165-1 with a .512 winning percentage.
    Jon Gruden is 95-81 with a .540 winning percentage. And a Super Bowl win.

    —-

    Hate to disappoint but:

    1) .512 and .540 aren’t statistically all that different over multiple seasons, and
    2) He didn’t build that SB winner, Dungy did. Dungy’s winning percentage in Tampa was higher, but he was fired, and the next year Gruden went to the SB with that team. His overall winning percentage blows Gruden away.

    When ranked by wins and winning percentage, Gruden ranks lower than Marvin Lewis.

    OP wasn’t cherry picking, you are. You have decided a lone SB win outweighs an 11 year career that is largely sub mediocre (Pulled up by 3-4 great years, including a SB win). I would not hire this man as my coach.

  26. I read an article a few years ago that compared Gruden’s quick success with that of other coaches. I can’t find it now. Anyway, Tomlin had a higher percentage of holdover players from the Cowher era when he won the SB two years later than Gruden had of Dungy’s players. Why does no one ever say Tomlin won with Cowher’s players?

    EXACTLY! CRICKETS…

  27. Why? He was run out and people complained about him when he was there. What changed about him? He still has a massive ego.

  28. Why does no one ever say Tomlin won with Cowher’s players?

    Because nobody thought of it.

    Also, Tomlin kept winning. Gruden and the Bucs were a one year wonder. They benefitted by playing the Raiders in the SB and Gruden knew every play in the playbook.

  29. But since going 15-4, including the Super Bowl, in his first season with the Bucs, Gruden went 45-53 and made quick exits from the playoffs at home after winning division titles in 2005 and 2007.

    This season’s collapse continued a trend of playing poorly late in the year. Since winning the Super Bowl, Tampa Bay is 9-17 in the month of December.

  30. hibcid16 says:
    December 29, 2017 at 1:12 pm
    I don’t get it. A million years ago Gruden won with a team that Dungy built…over the team that he built, and Tony’s team destroyed Jon’s team. So why he great demand? Please don’t misunderstand, I’m all for getting him out of the booth, but if you are a Bucs fan, is this really what you want?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Dungy didn’t win with that team and he had to go to Indy where Manning handled everything at the line of scrimmage. Indy’s defense was pretty bad while he was there but did put forth their better efforts in the postseason.

  31. reddzen says:
    December 29, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Hate to disappoint but:

    When ranked by wins and winning percentage, Gruden ranks lower than Marvin Lewis.
    ————————-

    Marvin Lewis is 124-112 with a .525 winning percentage. Never won a playoff game.
    Jon Gruden is 95-81 with a .540 winning percentage. And a Super Bowl win.

    As for number of wins, Marvin Lewis has coached for 4 more years than Gruden did, so that stat is meaningless.

    Has any other coach had his previous and current team in the Super Bowl at the same time?

  32. He didn’t win a playoff game in his final six years as a Buccaneers coach. That same time he went 45-51.

    Coaches with better winning percentages than Jon Gruden over his whole career: Mike Sherman, Ron Rivera, Mike Smith, Brian Billick, Wade Phillips, Jason Garrett, Chuck Pagano, and Jerry Burns.

    But, sure, he’s a great coach.

  33. sdiegosteel says:
    December 29, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    He didn’t win a playoff game in his final six years as a Buccaneers coach. That same time he went 45-51.

    Coaches with better winning percentages than Jon Gruden over his whole career: Mike Sherman, Ron Rivera, Mike Smith, Brian Billick, Wade Phillips, Jason Garrett, Chuck Pagano, and Jerry Burns.

    But, sure, he’s a great coach.
    ———————-

    Gruden has the same number of Super Bowl wins, as a head coach, as all of those guys combined.

    Who is claiming he is a great coach?

  34. mmack66 says:
    December 29, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Who is claiming he is a great coach?
    ======================================

    Then why do we care? Because he snarls a bit? Would Brian Billick coming back result in ten years worth of anticipation? Were we waiting every year to see if Dick Vermeil would come back?

    It’s a lot of debate for a slightly above average coach.

  35. Now that Tampa has announced they are committed to Koetter, this is Mark’s chance to get Gruden back to Oakland. Hope he doesn’t fail and disappoint the fans… No excuse if he blows this golden opportunity

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