Jon Gruden returns as head coach of the Oakland Raiders, welcoming back one of the most respected and successful coaches in the storied history of the Silver and Black.
Jon Gruden returns as head coach of the Oakland Raiders, welcoming back one of the most respected and successful coaches in the storied history of the Silver and Black. Gruden, who was first introduced as head coach of the Raiders 20 years ago, served four seasons with the Raiders from 1998-2001.
The naming of Gruden marks his return to coaching after spending nearly a decade in broadcasting, including color analyst duties on the Monday Night Football franchise from 2009-2017. Gruden compiled a 95-81 (.540) regular season mark in 11 seasons as a head coach with the Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002-08), and a 5-4 record (.556) in postseason contests, which includes a victory in Super Bowl XXXVII.
The youngest head coach in the NFL at age 34 upon his initial hire by Raiders Owner Al Davis in 1998, Gruden posted a 38-26 record (.594) and led the Silver and Black to back-to-back AFC West titles in 2000 and 2001. He guided the Raiders to an AFC Championship Game appearance in 2000, a campaign in which the Raiders set a franchise record with 479 points and led the NFL in rushing (154.4 avg.).
The Raiders ranked in the top-seven in total offense in three of Gruden’s four seasons in Oakland, including the top-three in rushing twice and the top-seven in passing once. Defensively, Gruden’s units twice ranked among the league’s top-10 in total defense, including the fifth-overall rush defense in 2000 and two top-nine finishes in passing defense.
In all, Gruden-led teams have claimed five division championships and have recorded six seasons with nine-or-more wins. As a head coach, he has seen 21 different players combine for 39 Pro Bowl selections. He has also coached recipients of the Associated Press’ Defensive Rookie of the Year (Charles Woodson – 1998), Defensive Player of the Year (Derrick Brooks – 2002) and Offensive Rookie of the Year (Carnell “Cadillac” Williams – 2005) Awards. In addition, Rich Gannon was tabbed for the Maxwell Club’s Bert Bell Award as the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2000 and four players who Gruden tutored as a head coach have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Jerry Rice (2010), Warren Sapp (2013), Brooks (2014) and Tim Brown (2015).
Regarded as one of the league’s top quarterback mentors, Gruden tutored Gannon to three Pro Bowl selections in Oakland and two of the then-top three single-season passing yardage totals in Raiders history. Gannon was the first of three quarterbacks under Gruden as a head coach to be selected for the Pro Bowl (1999-2001), as both Brad Johnson (2002) and Jeff Garcia (2007) earned recognition during his time with the Buccaneers. Gruden became just the fifth head coach since 1980 to win four-or-more division titles with four different quarterbacks starting in the playoffs.
Gruden joined ESPN in 2009 as an analyst for Monday Night Football and contributed analysis year-round on ESPN’s platforms, earning six Sports Emmy nominations. In addition to Monday Night Football, Gruden was part of ESPN’s annual NFL Draft coverage and his Gruden’s QB Camp series became one of the network’s most anticipated programs each year.
His QB Camp primetime series debuted in 2010, featuring in-depth, one-on-one interviews and film sessions in which he mentored top quarterback prospects, including Raiders current signal-callers Derek Carr, Connor Cook and EJ Manuel. The success of Gruden’s QB Camp show led to similar specials, including a Gruden’s Champ Camp special with New Orleans Saints Super Bowl winners Drew Brees and Sean Payton in 2010, as well as a SportsCenter Special with Brett Favre prior to his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In addition to his NFL role, Gruden called numerous college football telecasts for ESPN, including the Rose Bowl (2010) and BCS National Championship games (2010 and 2011) for ESPN Radio, and the 2011 and 2012 Outback and Orange Bowl games, where he worked alongside former MNF partner Mike Tirico and others.
Gruden conducted regular film study at his Tampa office – affectionately named the FFCA (Fired Football Coaches Association), welcoming high school, college and professional coaches to discuss football strategy, philosophy and to review game film.
Gruden spent seven seasons as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, finishing his time there as the winningest coach in franchise history by compiling a 57-55 (.509) regular-season record, while leading the Buccaneers to three division titles and a 3-2 mark in the postseason. Under Gruden’s direction, Tampa Bay posted three top-15 finishes in passing offense and boasted five top-five defenses, including the league’s overall leader in defense in both 2002 (252.8 avg.) and 2005 (277.8 avg.). The Buccaneers’ defensive units also led the NFL in passing defense in 2002 (155.6 avg.), 2004 (161.2 avg.) and 2007 (170.5 avg.).
Tampa Bay posted a 9-7 record in 2008, narrowly missing the playoffs despite recording the team’s most net passing yards (3,619) since 2003 and scoring the second-most points (361) in team history at the time. Additionally, the Bucs eclipsed 1,800 yards rushing (1,837) for the third time in four seasons and the defense tied for third in the league with 22 interceptions.
In 2007, Gruden led the Buccaneers to their third NFC South title in six years, becoming the first coach in team history to claim three division titles. He also became the first coach to win multiple NFC South titles since the division was created in 2002 and his five-career division crowns were tied for second among active coaches at the time. Gruden’s quarterbacks set a franchise record by throwing just eight interceptions, which was the lowest single-season total in team history. The team averaged 4.17 yards per rushing attempt, which ranked second in club history, and the 117.0 yards per game on the ground marked the sixth-highest average in team annals. Garcia was named to the Pro Bowl after establishing a team mark with a 1.2 interception percentage. Defensively, the Bucs ranked second in the NFL (278.4 avg.) and topped the league in passing defense (170.5 avg.).
Gruden started three different quarterbacks during the 2006 season with Chris Simms starting the first three games before suffering an injury. Bruce Gradkowski started 11 contests and established himself among the top rookie signal callers in team history, instituting several rookie passing marks before giving way to Tim Rattay for the final two games of the season.
The Buccaneers notched an 11-5 record and their second NFC South title in four years in 2005, led by Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year Williams, who set a Tampa Bay rookie record with 1,178 rushing yards. After starting quarterback Brian Griese went down with a season-ending injury, Simms led the Bucs to wins in six of the team’s final eight games and posted a 61.0 completion percentage to lead the team into the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The defense finished as the top-ranked unit in the league (277.8 avg.), marking the fourth-straight year that the team ranked among the top-five in total defense, and the second time that the group ranked first under Gruden.
In 2004, Griese ranked first in the NFL with a 69.3 completion percentage and established franchise marks for passer rating (97.5) and yards per pass attempt (7.8 avg.). Griese also began a streak of 12 consecutive games with a touchdown pass that extended into the 2005 season. Rookie wide receiver Michael Clayton flourished under Gruden’s watch, leading the team and finishing first among NFL rookies with 80 receptions for 1,193 yards.
The Buccaneers’ offensive revival continued in 2003 as the team broke the franchise record for total offense (340.8 avg.) and passing offense (237.8 avg.), posting top-10 marks in both categories. On defense, the unit ranked fifth in the NFL (279.1 avg.) and boasted the league’s third-best passing defense (169.4 avg.).
Gruden piloted Tampa Bay to its first-ever Super Bowl in 2002, his first season as head coach of the Buccaneers. The team established a franchise record with 12 wins, eclipsing the previous mark of 11 set in 1999, and the Bucs’ 15 overall wins were the most by a Tampa Bay team in single season. Gruden became the youngest head coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl and was also the first non-rookie head coach in the history of the NFL to lead his group to the Super Bowl in his first season with a new team. In addition, Gruden became just the third coach since 1966 to win 40 games before his 40th birthday while also becoming only the third head coach in NFL history to lead a different team to a playoff appearance in consecutive years.
The Buccaneers’ offense came together down the stretch, averaging 35.3 points and 334.0 yards per game in its three postseason contests. The offensive line surrendered just one sack in the postseason after allowing 2.6 sacks per game during the regular season.
Under Gruden’s tutelage, Johnson finished first in the NFC and third in the NFL in passer rating (92.9) and established single-season club records in touchdowns (22), completion percentage (62.3), interception ratio (1.3) and passer rating. He became the first quarterback in Buccaneers history to lead the NFC in passer rating and earned two NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, becoming the first player in club history to accomplish that feat.
The 2002 Buccaneer defense made its case as one of the top defensive units in NFL history, as Tampa Bay became the first team since the 1985 Chicago Bears to lead the league in total defense, fewest points allowed and total interceptions in the same season. Tampa Bay ranked first in the NFL in both total defense (252.8 avg.) and pass defense (155.6 avg.) for the first time in team history. The Buccaneers’ defense also ranked first in the league in fewest points allowed per game (12.3), opponent passer rating (48.4), interceptions (31), fewest yards per play (4.2) and fewest first downs (236).
In 2002, the Buccaneers’ defense featured five Pro Bowlers: 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Brooks, John Lynch, Shelton Quarles, NFC sack leader Simeon Rice and Sapp. Cornerback Brian Kelly tied for the NFL lead with eight interceptions and Rice led the NFC and ranked second in the NFL with 15.5 sacks.
Gruden posted a 38-26 record in four seasons in Oakland, notching a win total that currently ranks fourth among all-time Raiders head coaches. He led Oakland to back-to-back division titles in 2000 and 2001, marking the first time since 1982-83 that the Raiders won consecutive AFC West crowns. Under Gruden, the Raiders hosted the AFC Championship Game after the 2000 season and advanced to the AFC Divisional Playoffs in 2001, while ranking among the league’s top-10 offenses in his final three campaigns in Oakland. He also coached eventual NFL Most Valuable Player Gannon for three seasons, helping Gannon pass for 11,098 yards on 949-for-1,537 passing (61.7 percent) with 79 touchdowns and just 34 interceptions from 1999-2001.
The Raiders boasted the league’s seventh-ranked offense (335.1 avg.) in 2001 en route to an AFC West title. The Silver and Black went 6-2 against AFC West opponents and Brown totaled 91 receptions for 1,165 yards with nine touchdowns. Five Raiders were named to the AFC Pro Bowl squad: Brown, Gannon, Lincoln Kennedy, Shane Lechler and Woodson.
The Raiders ranked among the NFL’s elite in offense, defense and special teams under Gruden’s leadership in 2000, as the Silver and Black advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1990. The offense led the league in rushing (154.4 avg.) and ranked third in the NFL in scoring with 30 points per game. Oakland’s 58 touchdowns were tied for the second-most in the league. The Raiders ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing defense (96.9 avg.) and seventh in the league in takeaways (37). The Raiders led the AFC in touchbacks (15) and the NFL in net punting average (38.0 avg.). Gruden and his staff also led the AFC squad to a 38-17 victory in the Pro Bowl, a game that saw Gannon earn the first of his two consecutive Pro Bowl Most Valuable Player awards.
In 1999, Gruden led the Raiders to an 8-8 record despite facing the toughest schedule of any NFL team. The Raiders ranked third in rushing yards (2,084) and fifth in total offense in 1999 (355.8 avg.). In 1998, Gruden’s first year as a head coach, he led the Silver and Black to a four-game improvement over the previous year, going 8-8 and establishing a solid defense that ranked fifth in the NFL (284.4 avg.).
Gruden was the third-youngest head coach in Raiders history at age 34 when he was hired in 1998. Al Davis was 33 when he was named head coach and general manager of the Raiders in 1963 and John Madden was 32 when he was promoted to the top post in 1969.
Prior to beginning his initial tenure in Oakland, Gruden was a seven-year NFL assistant, helping his teams qualify for the playoffs five times. Gruden spent three seasons (1995-97) as offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles. He was the NFL’s youngest offensive coordinator at age 31 when head coach Ray Rhodes hired him in 1995. The Eagles posted a record of 26-21-1 during his time in Philadelphia, including playoff appearances in 1995 and 1996.
In 1997, the Eagles ranked third in passing, fifth in rushing and fourth in total offense in the NFC. In 1996, they led the NFC in passing, ranked third in rushing and led the conference in total offense. In 1995, his first season as a coordinator, Philadelphia finished fourth in the NFL in rushing (132.6 avg.).
Before joining Philadelphia, Gruden worked for three years at Green Bay from 1992-94. He served as an offensive assistant to head coach Mike Holmgren in 1992 and spent the 1993 and 1994 seasons as Green Bay’s wide receivers coach. Gruden worked as offensive assistant to head coach George Seifert with the San Francisco 49ers in 1990, also assisting then-offensive coordinator Holmgren and helping the 49ers to a 14-2 record and an NFC Championship Game appearance.
Gruden served five years in the college ranks, spending the 1991 season as wide receivers coach under Paul Hackett at the University of Pittsburgh after coaching wide receivers at University of Pacific in 1989 and logging a stint as passing game coordinator at Southeast Missouri State in 1988. He entered the coaching profession as a graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee in 1986 and 1987, helping the Volunteers to a 17-7-1 record and victories in the Liberty and Peach Bowls.
Born August 17, 1963 in Sandusky, Ohio, Gruden attended South Bend (Ind.) Clay High School and was a three-year letterman at quarterback at the University of Dayton, graduating in 1985 with a degree in communications. He helped the Flyers to a 24-7 record in three years and was honored with the prestigious Lt. Andy Zulli Memorial Award, given to the senior player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship and character. Gruden and his wife, Cindy, a former University of Tennessee cheerleader, have three sons, Deuce, who is in his first season as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Silver and Black, Michael and Jayson.
Heavily involved in the community at each of his coaching stops, Gruden and his wife have hosted youth groups at games and camps, worked on fundraising and awareness campaigns for the American Red Cross, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Gruden has worked to raise awareness about youth sports funding through the FFCA, hosting events that recognize the work of local high school coaches and presenting deserving programs with grant support and equipment. In 2015, the Moffitt Cancer Center dedicated the Gruden Huddle Room at the Moffitt McKinley Outpatient Center in Tampa in recognition of the Gruden family’s support.
Gruden’s father, Jim, is a long-time veteran of professional, collegiate and high school football coaching and scouting. He served as a personnel consultant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after spending 17 seasons in the San Francisco 49ers’ scouting department. He was Tampa Bay’s Director of Player Personnel (1984-86) and running backs coach (1982-83), joining the NFL after coaching stops at the college and high school levels.
Gruden’s brother, Jay, is entering his fifth season as the head coach of the Washington Redskins. He joined the Redskins after serving as offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals (2011-13), head coach (2010) and offensive coordinator (2009) for the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League (UFL) and was an offensive assistant under his brother for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for seven seasons (2002-08). Jay spent 18 seasons in the Arena Football League, forging an illustrious career as a quarterback and head coach. In nine seasons as head coach of the Orlando Predators (1998-2001, 2004-08), he led his team to four ArenaBowl appearances and won two championships. In six seasons as quarterback for the Tampa Bay Storm (1991-96), he won four ArenaBowl championships, was named the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1992 and was inducted into the AFL’s Hall of Fame in 1999. He returned from retirement to quarterback the Predators from 2002-03. Jay played quarterback in the World League of American Football (WLAF) after lettering four years at the University of Louisville.