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Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Candidate profiling: Jay Gruden

By Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- We continue to examine candidates to replace Mike Munchak as head coach of the Tennessee Titans.

Jay Gruden, offensive coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals

Age: 46

Jay Gruden
If the Titans are wanting a head coach who knows how to work with the offense and especially quarterbacks, Jay Gruden is their man.
College: Quarterback, Louisville, 1985-88

Pro playing experience: Quarterback Barcelona Dragons (World League of American Football), 1990; Sacramento Surge (WLAF), 1990; Tampa Bay Storm (Arena Football League), 1991-96; Orlando Predators (AFL), 2002-03.

Pro coaching resume: Orlando Predators (AFL), head coach, 2002-08; Tampa Bay Buccaneers, offensive assistant, 2002-08; Florida Tuskers (United Football League), offensive coordinator, 2009; Florida Tuskers, head coach, 2010; Cincinnati Bengals, offensive coordinator, 2011-present.

Titans’ connection: Overlapped with Ruston Webster from 2003-05 in Tampa Bay, when Webster was the Buccaneers’ director of college scouting.

Influences: Has worked for Jon Gruden and Marvin Lewis.

See him talk: Here’s Gruden on Monday talking to the press about his head coaching prospects.

Also a candidate for: Minnesota, Washington, Detroit.

Coley Harvey, ESPN Bengals reporter: “If Sunday was indeed Jay Gruden’s last as the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive coordinator, then his legacy here will begin and end with two words: Andy Dalton. That’s both a blessing and a curse. We’ll start with the blessing aspect of it. Since selecting Dalton in the second round of the 2011 draft, Gruden has proven he knows how to appropriately massage a young quarterback’s ego and put him in position to win regular-season games. Few can dispute the fact that as bad as Dalton has been at times during his career, he’s mostly been good ... in the regular season. He and Peyton Manning are the only quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for 3,000 yards in each of their first three seasons. He’s been to the playoffs three times. When Dalton has looked good, he’s looked really good. If Gruden comes to Tennessee, he will definitely have an opportunity to groom Jake Locker -- or a newly-drafted quarterback if the Titans go that way -- in much the same way.

“On the flip side, Dalton has been a bit of a curse for Gruden, specifically because of games like Sunday’s. In the Bengals’ recent wild-card round playoff game at home, Dalton threw two interceptions and fumbled on a dive at the end of a scramble to all but give the game to the Chargers. Take out his miscues and chances are, the Bengals end up rallying for the win. This was Dalton’s third straight playoff defeat and marked the third straight time Gruden did something that chaffed a few of his offensive players: he got away from running the ball. In the three playoff games the Bengals have been in under Gruden, they have run the ball a combined 60 times. That’s a 20-carry-per-game average. That wasn’t enough for running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis in particular, who got just eight carries Sunday despite averaging 5.25 yards per carry. If Gruden has one thing to learn from Cincinnati, it’s this: run the football in the playoffs.

“Otherwise, he’s a friendly guy. If fans here had a chance to see him on camera more often, they might like him a little more than it appears they do. He’s very accessible, very available. If Gruden acts as a head coach the way he has as an assistant, he’ll be a reporter’s dream.”