The Bengals announced Thursday that they have hired Jay Gruden as the team's new offensive coordinator. Gruden replaces Bob Bratkowski, who was fired on Monday.
Gruden, 43, coached with his older brother, Jon, for seven seasons (2002-08) in the NFL with the Buccaneers, earning a Super Bowl championship ring in '02. In 2010, Gruden was head coach and general manager of the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League. He led the Tuskers to the UFL championship game, where they lost to Las Vegas. He most recently had been hired on Jan. 12 to be head coach of the UFL's new Virginia franchise after the Tuskers' ceased operations.
"We are excited to have Jay join us and give us a new direction offensively," Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. "He has proven himself a consistent winner in a variety of positions and has earned tremendous respect in the coaching profession. He's going to provide the energy and attacking style that will best suit our offensive skill players and quarterback.
"This is something I wanted to get right, to take the time to make the best decision," Lewis said, "and I appreciate the support I got from (Bengals president) Mike Brown in the process. The offense is where we need to show improvement, and when we do, we'll show that this team is ready to win the division again like we did just a year ago. Our defense is strong and still improving, and one thing we did in 2010 was to develop a number of very promising new players. Jay is a key addition to this process."
Gruden, an Ohio native, was a star quarterback at the University of Louisville before quarterbacking the AFL's Tampa Bay Storm for six seasons (1991-96), where he won four AFL titles and posted numbers as the league's all-time leading passer.
He was head coach for the AFL's Orlando Predators for nine seasons (1998-2001 and 2004-08), while also serving as an offensive assistant with the Buccaneers. During his two-year hiatus from coaching the Predators, in 2002-03, he returned to the playing field as Orlando's QB, leading the team to two playoff appearances.
"I expect great things with the Bengals," Gruden said. "I intend on bringing a great attitude and work ethic. We'll build off the strength this offense has developed and add a system to challenge everyone in the building. I thank Marvin Lewis and Mike Brown for this opportunity, and I look forward to working with a great offensive staff."
The way we see it
Gruden has a tough task ahead of him with the Bengals' offense. QB Carson Palmer has asked to be traded, and WR Terrell Owens and RB Cedric Benson are free agents. WR Chad Ochocinco has one more year under contract, but it's unclear whether he'll be back in 2011.
The Bengals have some young pass-catching talent, with WR Jordan Shipley and TE Jermaine Gresham having solid rookie seasons and three-year veteran WRs Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell playing well at the end of the 2010 campaign. The Bengals finished 20th in the league in offense in 2010.