The Detroit Lions’ continued late season collapse in front of a national Monday Night Football audience has put Jim Schwartz firmly on the hot seat. It never takes long for fans firing up the coaching change talk to throw out the name Jon Gruden. According to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, Gruden may be interested in getting back into coaching.
Every year, Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden either himself, or utilizing his agent, or some combination thereof, checks out the coaching landscape. Every year Gruden, or his agent, or some combination thereof, denies the rumor. Rinse, wash, repeat. And yes, I’m hearing from team officials that Gruden, or his agent, or some combination thereof, is again looking.
Which brings us back to the predictable fan chatter.
Sure, Gruden has a Super Bowl ring (albeit with a team groomed by Tony Dungy), but my guess is the draw to Gruden has more to do with football-related entertainment than actual football. Fans see him every week on Monday Night Football and on his popular Gruden QB Camp features during draft season. Gruden excells in this format but that doesn’t mean he should be the front-runner for the Lions job, should it become available. Gruden is a name and he has personality – the Lions’ list of ideal qualities would be much more comprehensive.
Consider Gruden’s run with the Bucs after finishing his first season in Tampa with a Super Bowl championship. His tenure continued with records of 7-9, 5-11, 11-5, 4-12, 9-7 and 9-7. It really doesn’t look much different than the Lions’ last four seasons under Jim Schwartz of 6-10, 10-6, 4-12 and currently 7-7.
There wouldn’t be anything wrong with the Lions giving Gruden a look if it came to that; let’s just not pretend that Gruden represents some sort of superstar cure-all.
The real hope in Gruden should be based in the fact he has an offensive background and could lead the Lions to realizing their true potential. He never had a quarterback with the gifts Matthew Stafford posses yet Rich Gannon became an MVP in the twilight of his career. In Tampa, Gruden was saddled with a pedestrian group of signal callers. Brad Johnson, Brian Griese, Chris Simms, Bruce Gradkowski and a 37-year old Jeff Garcia all started at least ten games for the Bucs under Gruden.
Maybe the Lions would consider Gruden, maybe they wouldn’t. Even if they did, he would be just once choice of many. For now, the Lions have a coach and still have a shot at the playoffs.