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Jay Gruden, Mike Zimmer are now free to interview


With the Bengals, who had gone 8-0 at home in the regular season, losing by 17 at home to a Chargers team that Cincinnati had beaten on the road, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer have become instantly available to be interviewed and hired as head coaches elsewhere.

Both have drawn interest during their time in Cincinnati, where they have remained key members of the Marvin Lewis staff for three full seasons. Some think that the time has come for at least one of them to leave for a bigger job.

Jay Gruden, the younger brother of former Raiders and Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, seems to be more likely than Zimmer to get the promotion. Still, shouldn’t at least some portion of the failure of Andy Dalton to develop into a franchise quarterback be assigned to his offensive coordinator?

In places like Washington and Detroit, the primary challenge for the next head coach will be to get the most out of their young franchise quarterbacks. For Jay Gruden, the biggest unknown is whether he indeed has gotten the most out of Dalton, or whether Dalton’s underachievement can be blamed in part on coaching.

Regardless, look for Jay Gruden to be pushed aggressively for one of the vacant jobs. Some league insiders believe that Gruden’s agent, Bob LaMonte, has an internal pecking order that entails Jay Gruden getting hired now, with other clients Josh McDaniels and Sean McDermott on deck, followed by youngster Adam Gase, who has been persuaded by someone to not interview for any of the open jobs while the Broncos are still playing.

Meanwhile, it seems that Zimmer could once again be ignored. A semi-hot candidate a couple of years ago, the Dolphins reportedly found Zimmer to be too blunt and honest.

And he very well may be just that. Zimmer once called former Falcons coach Bobby Petrino, who quit after one year on the job, “a gutless bastard” and “a coward” who “didn’t have enough nuts to stay there and finish the job.”

Um, hire this man.