Jay Gruden’s formal interview for the Washington Redskins’ head coaching job is to come Wednesday, a day after the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator arrived in town and was reportedly spotted having dinner with Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen.
One person close to the situation said not to read too much into the reports of Gruden’s dinner Tuesday night with Allen, calling it a routine practice league-wide and adding it would have been significant only if Redskins owner Daniel Snyder had attended.
Even so, Gruden’s ties to Allen and others in the Redskins organization could be significant as the interview process moves forward. Some people connected with the league-wide hiring process now seem to consider Gruden one of the favorites to land the job and wonder if the Redskins will make a push to hire Gruden immediately during his visit.
It is not clear if Gruden would be receptive to such an approach even if the Redskins were to take it. He appears to have other options. He interviewed Tuesday with the Tennessee Titans and is scheduled to interview Thursday with the Minnesota Vikings.
Gruden formerly worked with Allen with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also has worked with some of the Redskins’ assistant coaches who were not immediately fired when the team dismissed Mike Shanahan as its head coach and ousted much of Shanahan’s staff. Gruden worked with secondary coach Raheem Morris and tight ends coach Sean McVay with the Buccaneers. He worked with McVay and Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett in the United Football League.
Wednesday’s interview is expected to take place at Redskins Park. He becomes the sixth candidate known to have interviewed with the team, following offensive coordinators Darrell Bevell of Seattle and Jim Caldwell of Baltimore, Dallas special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia and defensive coordinators Sean McDermott of Carolina and Perry Fewell of the New York Giants.
The Redskins have been expected to interview Vanderbilt Coach James Franklin, although the status of that prospective meeting was not clear after speculation increased Tuesday that Franklin was in line to be hired as Penn State’s coach. The Redskins also have sought to interview offensive coordinators Ken Whisenhunt of San Diego and Greg Roman of San Francisco and defensive coordinators Mike Zimmer of the Bengals and Vic Fangio of the 49ers.
Gruden, the brother of former Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden, has been a head coach in the UFL and in the Arena Football League. He oversaw the league’s 10th-ranked offense this season with the Bengals.
Update, 8:50 a.m.: One person familiar with the matter said there is sentiment that Gruden has emerged as the front-runner for the Redskins’ coaching job.
“I think he’s their first choice,” the person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly on the team’s or Gruden’s behalf.
But even if that is the case, it does not ensure that Gruden and the Redskins will strike a deal. Gruden has other opportunities and could proceed to his scheduled interview Thursday with the Vikings. Another person with knowledge of the matter did not rule out Gruden being hired by the Redskins but cautioned that both sides might be inclined to complete the interviewing process.
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