Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden might be headed back to Florida, according to NFL Network reporter Albert Breer.
Previously an assistant under his brother, then-Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden, in Tampa Bay, Gruden is reportedly a strong candidate to become the new head coach in Jacksonville.
Gruden has received significant praise this season for his role in the development of rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, who impressed greatly with 20 touchdown passes and just 13 interceptions. Dalton continued to improve as the season wore on, tossing one interception over the final six weeks of the 2011 season.
A former Arena Football League signalcaller, Gruden would be expected to help develop former Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert into a NFL star after the rookie showed promise in his freshman campaign. Gabbert ended the season with a 50.8 completion percentage, 12 TD passes and 11 interceptions as Jacksonville finished 5-11.
According to two sources cited by Breer, the Jaguars have contacted Gruden about the vacancy, and while he said he is interested, he also said it would have to wait until later as he prepares for the Bengals' playoff matchup with the Texans.
The Jaguars also have requested permission to speak to Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey.
The way we see it
The Jaguars' interest in Gruden makes perfect sense. Cincinnati's offensive coordinator is considered a young, bright mind who did outstanding work with rookie QB Andy Dalton this season. Jacksonville is committed to Blaine Gabbert, so it is probably thinking Gruden has shown he can be successful with a talented, young triggerman. Gruden also has strong ties to the Florida area and is a big name around the NFL — not only because of his success this season — but because of what his brother, Jon, has accomplished.