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Jon Gruden critical of Rex Ryan firing, says Jets ‘lost one heck of a football coach’

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Jon Gruden said he always feels awful for head coaches fired on the NFL’s “Black Monday” as he had to go “through that several years ago” when he was let go by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Even though he has a soft spot for all coaches canned, the onetime coach turned “Monday Night Football” analyst was particularly critical of one of the teams for its decision to cut ties with its sideline general: The New York Jets.

Gruden believes that it was a mistake for the Jets to fire Ryan, saying the team “lost one heck of a football coach” during a conference call Tuesday with national media, per a New York Post report.

The Jets had a miserable 2014 campaign, dropping eight games in a row after winning its season opener. The team finished 4-12, missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season and Ryan essentially played out the string over the final months of the season as a lame duck coach.

Ryan has interviews lined up with several teams, reportedly including the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons. He also reportedly had an interview with ESPN earlier this week as a quasi-backup plan should a head coaching job not be in the cards this upcoming season.

Despite Ryan testing the waters of the talking head world, Gruden believes Ryan’s heart lies in coaching.

“He’d be great at whatever he decides to do, but I can’t imagine him not coaching, to be honest,” Gruden said.

But more than anything, Gruden feels bad for Ryan.

“I’m really disappointed for him,” Gruden said. “I understand winning and losing are certainly the defining number for some people, but I expect Rex Ryan to get picked up quickly.”

Gruden arguably recognizes that the Jets didn’t give Ryan much to work with and that the odds were stacked against the coach given the dearth of talent.

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

Ryan’s strength of course comes on the defensive side of the ball and despite the argument being that he suffered from a relatively bare cupboard in the terms of talent, he nevertheless was able to consistently field above average defenses during his tenure with the Jets.

His inability to develop a quarterback, though, arguably served as his downfall with the Jets. But with a team, such as the 49ers and Falcons, who already arguably have franchise quarterbacks in the fold, Ryan might be a great fit.