- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Months ago, Jay Gruden was out of a job and found ways to spend his time. Fired from the Washington Redskins in October, the 52-year-old coach went on vacation and hit the golf course.

But as he admitted on a podcast earlier this month, Gruden was “itching” to do something bigger. And on Wednesday, he finally was able to scratch — the Jacksonville Jaguars announced Gruden as their next offensive coordinator.

Rather than sit an entire year out, Gruden will now be responsible for crafting an offense with some promising pieces that include wide receiver D.J. Chark, running back Leonard Fournette and quarterback Gardner Minshew. The Jaguars finished 6-10 in 2019 and 20th in total offense.

This will be Gruden’s second stint as an offensive coordinator. Before joining the Redskins in 2014, he spent three seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals in the role — helping quarterback Andy Dalton flourish.

With the Redskins, Gruden went 35-49-1 with one playoff appearance across five-plus seasons until he was dismissed for an 0-5 start this past year.

At the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama this week, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone called Gruden “the best fit” for their offense.

“Jay’s been very multiple,” Marrone said, via Jaguars.com. “He’s done a good job formationally in a lot of different areas. He’s done a very good job with quarterbacks when he’s been an offensive coordinator.”

Marrone added Gruden’s experience played a large factor in his hiring.

The Jaguars interviewed four candidates who had previous head coaching experience for the role. In addition to Gruden, Jacksonville spoke to former Giants coach Ben McAdoo, former Detroit coach Scott Linehan and former Arizona and Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt.

Jacksonville was in need of an offensive coordinator after firing John DeFilippo after just one season. DeFillippo was brought in to work with former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, who had signed a four-year, $88 million with the Jaguars last offseason. But early in the season, Foles suffered an injury and Minshew, a sixth-round rookie, thrived in his absence. Foles returned later in the season, only to be benched.

The Jaguars are entering a pivotal season in 2020. Since making a run in 2017 to the AFC championship game, Jacksonville has gone 11-21 in the last two seasons — and Marrone will likely be on the hot seat if the situation doesn’t improve.

Marrone’s ouster had been rumored at the end of this past year, but owner Shad Khan decided to retain him and general manager Dave Caldwell. Khan, however, did fire Tom Coughlin, the former two-time Super Bowl-winning coach, as the Jaguars’ top executive.

Months after he wa fired from the Redskins, Gruden told the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport he had missed going into an office every day and the camaraderie of the NFL.

There was some speculation Gruden would coach with his brother Jon, the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. But that move ultimately didn’t happen as the Jaguars hired Gruden instead.

So will there be a chance for Gruden to get his revenge against the Redskins? Well, the two teams won’t meet until 2022 — unless they meet in the preseason or the Super Bowl.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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