The Cincinnati Bengals have now endured a first-round playoff exit in three straight seasons. Questions already have emerged about quarterback Andy Dalton and whether or not he’ll ever be able to improve enough to get over that hump. One of the reasons folks thought Dalton would have been able to do so in 2013 was because of his offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.
Gruden was hired in February of 2011 as the offensive coordinator, thus getting a chance to work with Dalton for two seasons now. While Dalton has shown improvement, he’s also continued to show continuous flaws.
Nonetheless, following the Bengals’ loss to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, there were four teams who requested permission to interview Gruden regarding a head coaching vacancy.
Four teams requested permission to interview Jay Gruden shortly after CIN loss last night, sources said – Skins, Vikings, Lions and Titans
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 6, 2014
It looks like these teams are going to observe and grade Gruden’s entire body of work with the Bengals’ offense in his two years in CIncy, not the first-round exits. Gruden did help get Dalton to another level after his rookie season, and was responsible for the league’s 6th-ranked scoring offense in 2013.
One of the more intriguing jobs for Gruden is that of the Detroit Lions, where he looks like he’ll have competition from Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. The Lions have earned the title this offseason as the “most attractive” head coaching vacancy in football, due to the weapons they already have lined up on offense including Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.
Another job to watch from Gruden’s perspective is the Washington Redskins. Gruden may love the opportunity to work with Robert Griffin III and take the responsibility of being the guy who gets him to the next level. Out of the four teams interested, the Redskins and Lions seem to be the more interesting options for Gruden.
Remember, Gruden signed an extension with the Bengals last season after turning down an interview with the Indianapolis Colts. He seemed committed to Cincy then, but how committed will he be following another early playoff loss?