Gruden has remained relatively silent on the matter, but opened up in an interview with Chris Harry of the Orlando Sentinel. Among the topics discussed: the spread offense, Tim Tebow and how a person responds to being called a "scumbag."
Apparently, Gruden spends his days working in an office at the St. Pete Times Forum dissecting game film of the spread offense. As you may already know, the spread offense is a system that is used primarily in the college ranks (and high school but, let's be honest, Gruden isn't coaching high school teams any time soon -- he's more likely to coach flag football) which might suggest that he's looking towards the NCAA.
Almost immediately after he was fired from the Buccaneers, rumors began to swirl that Notre Dame was interested in hiring him to replace Charlie Weis -- rumors that the Fighting Irish found absolutely no humor in.
Gruden seems convinced the spread system can work in the NFL ("no question" were his exact words) and I couldn't disagree more. Yes, I know, Gruden knows more football than I'll ever dream of knowing. I mean, the guy still wakes up at 3:00 AM ET to watch game film. His dedication is ridiculous, bordering on the insane. Still, I can't see where he's coming from here.
First of all, there is simply too much speed in the NFL for such a system to work. It's the same reason I feel the Wildcat is eventually going to run its course and disappear from the NFL landscape. Defenses are too fast, defensive coordinators are too good and, eventually, teams will catch on and put a stop to it.
The second, and perhaps most important reason is the fact no sensible head coach in the NFL will subject his franchise quarterback to the physical punishment that comes with running an option-style offense. Let's be honest, quarterbacks in the NFL make a gargantuan amount of money, while also being the face of their franchise.
The NFL goes to great lengths to protect them from being hit, almost to the point where anything other than a perfectly-timed hit between the belt and shoulder, no later than .0001 seconds after the football is released is grounds for a 15-yard penalty and a $10,000 fine. Heck, in some cases, guys even get the fine for actually sacking the quarterback.
Leaving your quarterback on an island, wide open to free shots from 260-pound linebackers time and time again does not seem like the most brilliant strategy for success in the NFL.
I know, it works in college, but players in the NFL are not only substantially better than your typical Pac-10 (or any other conference) foe, they are also bigger, faster and stronger. It's not working.
Beyond that, Gruden is also convinced that University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is destined for stardom in the NFL and, unlike Mel Kiper, is convinced he can do so at the quarterback position running an option-style offense.
"He will kick the living [expletive] out of a defensive lineman. He'll fight anybody. He is rare. Tebow is the kind of guy who could revolutionize the game. He's the 'wildcat' who can throw. Most of the teams that have the wildcat back there, it's Ronnie Brown, it's Jerious Norwood, it's whoever you want to say it is. This guy here is 250 pounds of concrete cyanide, man. And he can throw. He throws well enough at any level to play quarterback."I don't know, whenever I hear "revolutionize the game" I can't help but think back to the 2001 NFL draft and the hype surrounding a dynamic, exciting talent by the name of Michael Vick. Even before his off-field problems, that experiment wasn't exactly working out in Atlanta.
Finally, Gruden addressed the harsh criticism delivered from some of his former players, including defensive end Simeon Rice, who referred to him as a "scumbag."
"Yeah, it hurt. But I've also had some of the greatest phone calls that made it all worthwhile. I remember when I got the job, they weren't real happy with where they were at that time, either. There was a lot of criticism of the last coach [Tony Dungy]. I remember when Mike Holmgren left Green Bay, they were killing him. I remember when Bill Walsh left, what Joe Montana said about him. So this happens. When you're the head coach, you coach 53 people, and their wives and their girlfriends and their families and all those people. So I'm not going to worry about it. Yeah, I'm disappointed that I'm a 'scumbag' and that I couldn't get along with the quarterback [when] I live my life through the quarterback. Mike Clayton has his own opinion and I respect that."Despite the fact that the team fired him, and some of the players obviously don't care for him, Gruden admitted he will still support the Buccaneers and new head coach Raheem Morris by attending games and cheering for them.
While Gruden has a strong resume in the NFL, including a Super Bowl ring, it may be tough for him to catch on with another NFL franchise in a head coaching role in the near future. Teams seem to be tired of recycling former head coaches, and instead seem more interested in finding the next Mike Tomlin or John Harbaugh. Already this offseason we've seen two of the youngest head coaches in NFL history in Morris and Josh McDaniels.