Jay Gruden’s coaching résumé includes a handful of stops, including nine total seasons as a head coach in the Arena Football League and time on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff of his brother, Jon.
But undoubtedly the section that piqued the Cardinals’ interest – and why he was at the team facility Thursday to interview for the vacant head coaching position – was the last two years as the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, and how he developed 2011 second-round draft pick Andy Dalton into an immediate starter who has reached the playoffs in each of his first two seasons.
That’s in direct opposition to what the Cardinals had in 2012 as they had four different starters at quarterback.
“You need stability at that position,” Gruden said. “There aren’t many successful teams in the history of the NFL that say, ‘Hey, we had a great year, we played four quarterbacks.’ That’s not going to happen.”
Finding one quarterback is important, but finding a quarterback that works – even if he isn’t the ultimate answer – is also crucial to running a team.
“There are a lot of teams looking for quarterbacks like Tom Brady,” Gruden said. “There’s not a lot of them out there.
“One thing people have to understand is that it’s not always the quarterback. There are other issues when an offense fails. There are a lot of things you have to address when your offense sputters, and they have to be addressed quickly.”
The Cardinals have interviewed their own defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, as well as Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and now Gruden. Steelers president Art Rooney was quoted Wednesday that the Cardinals also interviewed Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, but the Cards have not commented on that.
The team has not announced any other interviews or prospective candidates. If the choice were to be made to try and get McCoy, the Cardinals cannot do so until the Broncos are eliminated from the playoffs.
Thursday marked Gruden’s first-ever NFL head coaching interview, although he said there was a “possibility” of meeting with the Eagles next week and that his agent had fielded calls from a couple of other teams. He had similar head coaching interview options last season after Dalton’s rookie year, but turned them down because he had only been in Cincinnati a single season and didn’t want to leave so soon. This year, he acted.
“People might stop calling if I said no again,” Gruden said.
Team president Michael Bidwill has said there is no timeline to name a coach. Gruden had previously told Cincinnati reporters he would be OK if he returned back to the Bengals.
“It’s (the Cardinals’) call whether they think I’m the right guy to lead their team in the direction they want to go,” Gruden said. “Everyone has the same goal. Everyone wants to see this team get better. Any coach they bring in here to sit in this chair, they are going to say the same thing, ‘We’re going to turn this thing around the best way we can.’ It’s their job to pick who they think can do that the best.”
Former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt reportedly got a second interview Thursday for the vacant head coaching position of the Cleveland Browns.