Jaguars Officially Hire Jay Gruden As Next Offensive Coordinator
It is official: Jay Gruden is the new offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The team announced Wednesday they had struck a deal with Gruden, ex-head coach of the Washington Redskins, to call plays for Jacksonville's young offense in 2020. Gruden is the third full-time offensive coordinator in three years for Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone's staff, and fourth if you count Scott Milanovich's interim tenure at the position in 2018.
Gruden replaces John DeFilippo, who served as Jacksonville's offensive coordinator for only one season. Jacksonville has had a vacancy at offensive coordinator since the departure of DeFilippo on Jan. 13, which was called a mutual parting of ways by the club.
Gruden, 52, served as Washington's head coach from 2014 until Week 6 in 2019, when he was fired after an 0-5 start and eventually replaced by Ron Rivera. Gruden compiled a 35-49 record in Washington but never won less than seven games aside from his first and final seasons with the team. He led Washington to one playoff appearance.
Judging from the candidates Marrone brought in to interview for the offensive coordinator position, which included former head coaches and experienced play-callers Ben McAdoo and Scott Linehan, it is clear Marrone wanted an experienced coach to lead his offense in 2020. Gruden fits the bill and some, having called plays in most seasons since 2011, sans a period where Sean McVay called plays for Gruden's Washington team.
In Jacksonville, Gruden will be tasked with navigating the team's quarterback room and help determine which signal-caller is the right one to hedge the team's bets on between Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew II. Once that is sorted out, Gruden will have to succeed where past Jaguars' coordinators have failed and get the best out of the team's starting quarterback.
Luckily for the Jaguars, Gruden has an extensive history with both young and veteran quarterbacks. He served as the Cincinnati Bengals' offensive coordinator from 2011-2013, overseeing Andy Dalton's first three seasons in the NFL. The Bengals' offense flourished with Gruden's West Coast, heavy play-action scheme. Gruden played a big role in the Bengals making it to the postseason in each of his seasons with the team, including winning an AFC North title in 2013.
In Gruden's three seasons with the Bengals, his offenses finished 18th, 12th, and sixth in scoring. Dalton threw for the most touchdowns (33) and yards (4,293) of his career under Gruden's tutelage in 2013.
The performances of Gruden's offenses in Washington flocculated as the team struggled to field a healthy and talented offense, but he oversaw Kirk Cousins in his first full seasons as an NFL starter.
In 2014, the unit finished 26th in points before jumping to 10th in 2015 and 12th in 2016. It began to decline some in 2017, finishing 17th in points, before injuries decimated the quarterback and offensive line positions and doomed Washington to 29th in points in 2018 and 32nd in points in 2019.
For Gruden, the Jaguars represent a fresh start, a new set of challenges, and some enticing offensive players to work with in Minshew, DJ Chark, Leonard Fournette, and Jawaan Taylor. After Jacksonville finished 26th in points in 2019, the Jaguars hope Gruden can inject some life into what has been a dormant unit for the past several seasons.