Jon Gruden never understood that it's the quarterbacks that drive NFL teams
And it cost him his job.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired Gruden Friday in what some might see as a shocking move. It really isn't. Gruden's team flubbed a playoff chance down the stretch and he would have been entering a win-or-else season in 2009.
Gruden was arrogant enough as a coach to think his schemes could overcome the lack of a quality quarterback. In 2003, the Bucs won a Super Bowl with Brad Johnson at quarterback.
That led to Gruden believing he could win with anybody there. The reality is that it took an amazing defense to win that season.
It wasn't Johnson.
It couldn't be. He was nothing more than a caretaker.
Those caretaker-win-Super Bowl stories come along once in a while. For every Johnson or Trent Dilfer, I can give you a long list of Hall of Fame passers who have won Super Bowls.
The timing of the Gruden firing leads me to believe the Bucs are up to something big. I doubt they would fire a coach at this stage of the game without having a plan. With general manager Bruce Allen also getting fired, it leads me to believe they are targeting a big-name coach they will pay a ton of money to have personnel control.
Maybe Mike Shanahan? Maybe Urban Meyer? Maybe Bob Stoops? Maybe Pete Carroll?
If I were Meyer and the Bucs came to me an offered me $8-million a season and total control, how could I turn that down? What's left to challenge me on the college level? Of course, I'd have to change my offensive system.
I'm telling you. There's something at work in Tampa. Something big.
No matter the hire, that person better take a lesson from Gruden's tenure there. You can't win consistently with scrap-heap quarterbacks.