Jon Gruden played quarterback in high school, served as a backup QB at Dayton, then coached on the offensive side of the ball in college and the NFL before becoming a Super Bowl-winning coach with Tampa Bay. Plus, he does those ESPN “QB Camp” shows annually with the top pro prospects.
So the “Monday Night Football” analyst was a good guy to weigh in on the Jets’ unsettled quarterback situation. Brian Hoyer met with team officials Tuesday. But Gruden, in Manhattan to receive an award, thinks there should be a remarriage between the Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who have been in a contract standoff for more than a month.
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“I think Fitz needs to come back,” Gruden told Newsday. “You have to have some continuity, I think personally. The offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey, has been with Fitz way back in Buffalo. Nobody knows Chan like Fitz and nobody knows Fitz like Chan . . . But it’s got be reasonable for both parties.”
Gruden was at the Conrad Hotel where he was given the first DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation Sports Matter Impact Award for his own efforts promoting youth sports and his work with the foundation’s Sports Matter program, which raises awareness and money to benefit the funding crisis for them, from high school on down.
“I’m blown away by it, really,” Gruden said of the honor, which came with $25,000 for him to donate to any youth sports program.
The foundation hosted a Sports Matter event in conjunction with the Tribeca Film Festival. There was the red carpet, then the premiere of “Keepers of the Game,” a documentary about the Salmon River girls high school lacrosse team from the upstate Akwesasne reservation. And there were panel discussions with athletic, corporate and media personalities to illustrate the value of youth sports and the funding issues.
“Some of the best lessons that I’ve ever learned are on a ball field — basketball, football, baseball, golf,” Gruden said. “And I learned great lessons from my coaches — being on time, being mentally tough, having some discipline and being part of a team . . .
“We’re in trouble. And it’s not just high school football. It’s not just youth football. It’s all sports . . . Let’s save our young people. Let’s keep giving them what they need.”
The Jets need to solve their quarterback issue for this season and beyond. Gruden said he doesn’t know yet whether Geno Smith or Bryce Petty can be a legitimate No. 1. Right now, the Jets own the 20th pick next Thursday. Maybe Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch will still be available.
“I love Lynch,” Gruden said. “You find me a 6-foot-7 guy that’s 240 pounds who can do what he’s done. He filled the stadium at Memphis for cryin’ out loud . . . He’s got to get with the right coach. He’s still a young pup, but, man, does he have talent.”