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Jon Gruden: In firing Rex, Jets let a good coach get away

ESPN broadcaster Jon Gruden is shown before an

ESPN broadcaster Jon Gruden is shown before an NFL football game between the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills in Foxborough, Mass on Sept. 14, 2009. Credit: AP

Jon Gruden made it clear on a conference call with reporters Tuesday that he is not a candidate for the Jets' head coaching job -- or any other coaching job.

Then he made it clear he thinks the Jets just let a good one get away.

"That was a tough day for me [Monday], because I went through that several years ago and a lot of these [fired coaches] are my friends, including Rex,'' the ESPN analyst and former Raiders and Bucs head coach said. "I'm really disappointed for him. I understand winning and losing is certainly the defining number for some people, but I expect Rex Ryan to get picked up quickly.

"I'm sure there are some celebrations in Buffalo and New England and Miami. But the Jets, they chose to move on. I wish them the best in their endeavors, but I think they lost one heck of a football coach.''

What advice would Gruden give to Ryan should he decide to spend a pit stop of a season on TV, mostly likely as a fellow ESPN employee?

"Just prepare like you prepared as a coach and be yourself and try to be a great listener; try to listen to the producer and the director and the people running the show and be a great listener and a great teammate,'' Gruden said. "He'd be great at whatever he decides to do. I can't imagine him not coaching, though, honestly.''

Said Gruden's partner, play-by-play man Mike Tirico: "Rex was so popular with the New York media, a guy who was on the hot seat handled the New York media and that room as well as anybody has since [Bill] Parcells and the guy understands how to use the medium to communicate, to communicate good messages, bad messages. So there's no learning curve of getting comfortable in front of the camera, in front of microphones. There's no learning curve in how to massage the message.

"If Rex does go that way I think it's as smooth a transition as you could see from head coach to media guy. I'm with Jon, by the way. I hope he coaches. If there was the right offensive mix I think a team could make an immediate jump to a playoff team by hiring him.''

Tirico made the point that the current head coach openings are clustered in some of the nation's biggest media markets, something not likely to intimidate Ryan.

"I don't know where you're going to find all these coaches,'' Tirico said, "and if you look back I know what the record was with the Jets but Rex did a pretty darn good job there overall and I think with the right offensive mix and stability at quarterback that would be a head coach who could turn around a team quickly.''

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