Jon Gruden’s love of California and the NFL could be enough to lure him back to the sidelines as coach of the Los Angeles Rams.
After coaching his last NFL game eight seasons ago, Gruden is rumored to be at the top of the Rams’ wish list as the team looks to make a big splash with fans after recently moving out West from St. Louis.
Given his Super Bowl winning pedigree, Gruden has long been a coveted commodity in NFL circles, but something about the Rams’ job seems to have captured his attention as few other possibilities have since he last coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
For one things, Rams owner Stan Kroenke has some of the deepest pockets of any owner in the league and could easily make Gruden one of the NFL’s richest coaches with just the swift stroke of a pen.
In running back Todd Gurley and defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the Rams’ also have some of the league’s most promising young talent, and that also includes quarterback Jared Goff, whom Gruden is on record in expressing his fondness for.
“I would want him if I were still coaching,” Gruden said of Goff last season in his role as an ESPN draft analyst.
The Rams are also set to begin calling a $2.6 billion stadium home by 2019, an arena that stands not far away from where Gruden started his NFL head coaching career with the crosstown rival Raiders.
Some of Gruden’s former colleagues haven’t been shy about predicting if the 53-year-old veteran coach is to ever return to the NFL sidelines the Rams job fits him as few others have.
Over the years, Gruden has rejected varying degrees of interest from the likes of such storied college programs as Tennessee and Texas. The Raiders were also rebuffed when they reached out to him about a potential return to Oakland.
The Rams recently parted ways with veteran coach Jeff Fisher amid yet another failed season during which Gurley blasted the team’s consistently sputtering offense as being on the level of a middle school team.
Special teams coach John Fassel was installed as Fisher’s interim replacement.
The Rams won just four games under Fisher this season, a year that also saw the squad emerge as the only team to lose to the San Francisco 49ers through Week 14 and Fisher engage in a public war of words with franchise legend Eric Dickerson over sideline accessibility.
Fisher’s formal dismissal came just a day after the Rams were blown out by the Atlanta Falcons 42-14, handing the coach his 165th career loss, tied with Dan Reeves for the most in NFL history.
It also came just over a week after the team announced he had been signed to a contract extension.
With the Rams, Fisher had five consecutive losing seasons and never finished better than 7-8-1. His 45 losses since the 2012 season also ranked him second among coaches in the league in that category over his tenure.
At the time of Fisher’s dismissal, Rams COO Kevin Demoff revealed the team hoped to name a permanent replacement by the middle of January.
During his time as an NFL coach, Gruden was known as a no nonsense signal caller with a penchant for on-the-field discipline. His hard nose style helped led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the franchise’s only Super Bowl win during the 2002 season.
The Rams finish the season by hosting the 49ers and Cardinals before turning their undivided attention to the NFL Draft in late April, another area of team operations Gruden is known to greatly excel.
[Featured Image by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]