When Jon Gruden left the Oakland Raiders in 2002 for Tampa Bay, he hired a familiar name as one of his offensive assistants.
That would be brother Jay, now the head coach in Washington.
At that time, though, Jay’s coaching experience was limited to five years with the Arena League, where he starred earlier as a quarterback, was a four-time league champion and was named a league MVP, an all-star game MVP and an Arena League Bowl MVP.
But the NFL? No dice … that is, not until big brother reached out in 2002. The two would spend the next seven years together in Tampa Bay where the Bucs won their only Super Bowl (2002) — an experience so valuable … or invaluable … that Jay Gruden now says that “everything I do and have learned is from Jon.”
“He’s had a great influence on my career,” he said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “I was able to play Arena ball, coach Arena ball, but also to go down there (to Tampa) and be a fly on the wall and learn.
“As I got more and more involved with the Buccaneers my first, second and third years, I was able to do a little bit more and more and more. And then the year that we got fired in Tampa Bay (following the 2008 season), we spent months and months just getting on the chalkboard and drawing plays up and studying the game.
“It gave me a great opportunity to really study the game from an X’s and O’s standpoint and forced me to learn pass protections and run concepts and how to block the runs. Everything I do and have learned is from Jon.”
Gruden’s first NFL job was in Cincinnati where he was offensive coordinator for Marvin Lewis from 2011-13. Then it was on to Washington, where he’s been the Redskins’ head coach the past four seasons, leading the team to a division championship and compiling a record of 28-35-1.
Jon, of course, returned to coaching Oakland in January after nine years as an analyst with Monday Night Football.
“I branched out and learned from some other great people like Marvin Lewis and Kenny Zampese and some other coaches in Cincinnati,” Jay Gruden said, “and then adding some coaches here (in Washington) with (quarterbacks coach) Kevin O’Connell and (offensive coordinator) Matt Cavanaugh and (offensive line coach) Bill Callahan. Kind of evolved that way.
“But really the bread and butter on my offense comes through the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I always say I have the coaching playbook Bible, my 2008 playbook from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I still refer to that every now and then.”