Gruden is the right man for the Eagles' job

Jon Gruden, now an analyst on ESPN, has a history of winning, developing quarterbacks, and of using the running game. ASSOCIATED PRESS
Jon Gruden, now an analyst on ESPN, has a history of winning, developing quarterbacks, and of using the running game. ASSOCIATED PRESS
Posted: January 14, 2013

Perhaps the most talked about topic in our region these past few weeks has been who will be the Eagles' next coach. It blew away talk about the fiscal cliff, what to do about Iran, and many other issues of lesser importance. Everyone has an opinion, and everywhere I go, people don't hesitate to tell me their choice.

From that decidedly unscientific poll, I can tell you that the overwhelming people's choice is "Chuckie," a k a Jon Gruden. For what it's worth, he's my choice, too.

The main indictment against Andy Reid was that he never won a Super Bowl, and that is the standard that we judge all coaches by. When talking about prospective coaches, that's the question we always ask - does he have the stuff to make us Super Bowl champs?

Well, if that's the Holy Grail - and I suspect it is for all of us, including Jeffrey Lurie - then there is only one person who might be interested in becoming our coach (if you can believe Ron Jaworski, and I do) who we know has the right stuff. It's Gruden, who led the Tampa Bay Bucs to a title in 2002 (I'm assuming Bill Cowher and Brian Billick are not interested in returning to the sideline, or at least not our sideline).

When one analyzes Gruden's championship year, it is fair to say he won it all with a good, but not great, Bucs team. The Bucs had the No. 1 defense in the NFL, due in large part to the presence of three all-time greats - Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch. Their offense, however, was pedestrian and ranked 24th in the league.

Their QB was Brad Johnson, who coincidentally looked and played a lot like Nick Foles. Under Gruden's tutelage, this mediocre talent had a great year (92.9 passer rating). Johnson's weapons weren't exactly stellar, either - his leading rusher was the lumbering Mike Alstott (3.8 yards per carry), and his wideouts were Keyshawn Johnson and Keenan McCardell. The Bucs ran the ball 414 times (42 percent) and passed 567 times. In what would be music to Birds fans' ears, Gruden was committed to the run.

In his other great year, with the Raiders in 2000, when he led the team to a 12-4 record and a near miss in the "tuck-rule" game against the Pats in the AFC Championship, the Raiders ran the ball 520 times (52 percent) and passed 475 times.

In his 11 years as a head coach, Gruden had six winning seasons and two 8-8 years, and went to the playoffs five times. He is an innovator, a good game strategist and an excellent motivator. After 14 years of Reid, possibly the biggest "players' coach" of all time, Gruden's "get-in-your-face" approach might be just what we need to restore this team to its tough-as-nails reputation of the 1990s.

Gruden is also quite personable and would handle the public relations duties of a head coach extremely well. Best of all, and the No. 1 reason the Birds should hire him, he is great at developing quarterbacks. In Oakland, he took Rich Gannon, from Division I-AA Delaware, and turned him into a Pro Bowler. He made the aforementioned Johnson into a Super Bowl winner. He is just what Nick Foles needs, and Gruden has shown a high regard for Foles' potential in his TV commentary.

So I believe it's clear that Gruden is the best choice to lead the Eagles. Though Gruden apparently was in the Philly area recently, no one has been able to provide any indication, whatsoever, that the Eagles have contacted him at all. Why, at the very least, they wouldn't interview him is beyond me.

They gave Chip Kelly 9 hours! And now we learn that they are interviewing Brian Kelly based on one good season and the horrible job he did in the BCS Championship Game? Don't tell me it wasn't his fault, because Alabama is a super team. Remember, it lost to Texas A&M at home!

All we can hope for is that Gruden is the kind of guy who wants to do things completely under the radar and that there has been some communication between him and the Birds. If not, it's not too late, Jeffrey!

Don't worry about Howie Roseman's feelings, and hire "Chuckie" and turn the whole show over to him. If you do, you just might be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy above your head, as you bring us the championship that you so badly want to deliver to the best fans in football!!!


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