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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Posts
    94

    What if TB never traded for Jon Gruden?

    During Tony Dungy's tenure as TB's head coach from 96-01, they went from the laughingstocks of the league to consistent playoff contenders and came one blown call away from potentially going to the Super Bowl in 1999. After back-to-back beatdowns from PHI in the next two postseasons, Dungy was fired and the team traded for OAK head coach Jon Gruden.

    Like Dungy, Gruden helped turn the fortunes of his team, but his exit from OAK was a bit different than Dungy's. Gruden had playoff disappointments (his high powered offense was neutralized by BAL's legendary 2000 defense in the AFC Championship and the infamous Tuck Rule game in the following postseason), but his exist was mainly due to offensive differences between him, a West Coast offense advocate, and OAK owner Al Davis, who favored an old school vertical passing game.

    After firing Dungy, TB would eventually trade a king's ransom to OAK in exchange for Gruden's services. The end result was a blowout victory over Gruden's previous employer in Super Bowl 37, thanks in large part to Gruden's knowledge of OAK's playbook.

    Now, what if TB elected to keep Dungy and never make the trade in the first place?

    Gruden traded to WAS
    WIth TB out of the running, here were the other openings at the time:

    -IND: The fact they hired Tony Dungy in the real world showed they would have preferred a defensive-minded coach. Plus they probably would have wanted to save the draft picks to build their defense.

    -CAR: Held the second overall pick, so the trade would have been way too expensive for them.

    -HOU: Just created, so they needed their draft picks to build the foundation of their team.

    -SD: Division rival.

    The leaves our winner of the Gruden sweepstakes: WAS.

    Despite finishing the season 8-3 in 2001, Marty Schottenheimer was fired by WAS and was replaced by...Steve Spurrier. Yeah that didn't end well. Besides owner Dan Snyder loves making flashy moves such as this, the fact the team moved on from Schotty so quickly is a sign they felt they were just a coach away from contention.

    Gruden would more than likely not win a SB in DC, but overall they'd be competitive under him. Assuming he receives a contract similar to what he received in TB (5 years, $17 million), he probably would have opted to not re-sign or leave in some capacity shortly before due to butting heads with Snyder.

    More coaching changes
    Here's how the previously mentioned openings would be filled:

    IND: John Fox - Schotty is in play here, but perhaps IND would prefer the younger, more long-term option than the retread.

    CAR: Steve Spurrier - They go for a hard reset and pull in Spurrier by giving him GM duties.

    HOU: Dom Capers - This is who HOU hired in the real world.

    SD: Marty Schottenheimer - Same as Capers, but this would have been the best fit for Schotty.

    Super Bowl 37: PHI vs. OAK
    It's possible Dungy's Bucs get the eagle off their back, but I have my doubts due to Dungy's lack of offensive prowess to keep pace with Andy Reid's. As for who wins this SB, it's anyone's guess, but I'd pick OAK. Jimmy Johnson's defense would keep the game close (Barrett Robbins would still lose his mind the night before), but I just wouldn't trust Donovan McNabb in a big game, especially as raw as he was at this point in his career.

    If PHI wins, McNabb and Reid would stay together in PHI longer than they did in the real world.

    An OAK win wouldn't change much. They had the league's oldest roster by far and Al Davis started showing his senility by drafting a kicker in the first round, so their collapse was inevitable.

    Super Bowl 38: PHI vs. NE
    With Spurrier in CAR, they stay in the pits and Jake Delhomme never becomes their starter. This prevents another barrier getting in PHI's way, so they go back to the Super Bowl and run into NE. I know PHI fans will hate me, but I'd have them losing here too. Sorr, but McNabb sucked and sucked harder in big games.
    Last edited by d.m.g.; 04-17-2021 at 03:44 PM.

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